Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Something Wicked

We went to see the posthumous release of James Gandolfini's last (?) film but ended up seeing Brittany Murphy's last (?) film, a five-year-old why-are-they-releasing-it-now horror flick called Something Wicked.

The Flower was so appalled, it took me weeks to talk her into seeing another movie.

Solid horror movies are pretty rare. A lot of horror movies work well up to a point. The vast majority of horror movies do something well. It's not uncommon for a horror movie to set up a good atmosphere, for example, or an interesting premise. Most can manage a few cheap (but effective) shocks through (say) tight editing, and a few manage moments of suspense or boast a really fine performance.

These are all things missing from Something Wicked. Even its 90 minute runtime feels long and sloppy due to the editing, which does the acting no favors. Murphy does all right, I guess, but it's not like there's a lot to work with. I'm guessing the other actors actually can act, since most of them have pretty extensive credits.

The lead, Shantel VanSanten comes off particularly poorly, though this is doubtless due to the nature of the material, which can't really make up its mind what her role should be.

That's 'cause it's actually a big ol' cheat. In the desperate attempt to fool the audience with a "twist", the movie just lies to you from the first important scene—which, by the way, I spotted as it was happening.

That would be fine—I assume most people wouldn't see it coming, because it was really stupid, and you'd have to watch a lot of horror movies to pick up on it—but then the movie wants to set up a ghost story, for the cheap shock factor. And when I say cheap shock factor, I mean lone-girl-spooked-in-swimming-pool-goes-to-take-a-shower. (Because what girl doesn't respond to the threat of physical danger while scantily clad by getting naked in a publicly accessible yet more secluded place?)

Basically, the climax of the movie manages to both be completely absurd and totally unsurprising, punctuated by moments that are actually laugh-out-loud funny. Not enough of those to be in the so-bad-it's-good territory, unfortunately, but—well, at one point, while staring down the barrell of a gun he's just been shot with, a character says:

"Babe...have you gone crazy?"

As I said, it took weeks to get The Flower back into a theater, and I may never get her into another horror movie, since it's not really her thing to begin with.

Felt bad, though. There were two potentially good movies here, if they had picked one and stuck with it, instead of trying to Scooby Doo it up and give us a twist ending, and in the process invalidating every single plot point and possible moment of suspense. Even Scooby Doo doesn't do that any more.

Speaking of which, have you watched the latest Scooby Doo series, Scooby Doo, Mystery Incorporated? It ran for two seasons in 2010 and with a clearly planned and executed story arc. Ridiculously well done with an amazing cast and tons of in-jokes.

You should go watch that.

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