Desperation (2006) — Fear and loathing outside of Las Vegas

“You have the right to an attorney. I am going to kill you. Do you understand these rights as I have explained them to you?”

Shalen’s rating: Warning: this review contains a very explicit word which may cause insanity and death. Do not read this review. And especially do not watch this movie.

Shalen’s review: Strangely, this is my first entire Stephen King movie. I watched part of The Shining in college, and I quit on it because it was too freaky for me at the time. Well, there’s certainly no danger of that here.

Even I know Stephen King has certain things he likes to put in his stories, though I’ve read nary a one, and every single one of those things is here. There’s a writer character. There’s a kid with supernatural powers, in this case talking to God instead of being psychic. There’s a set of situations that start out normal and get progressively weirder. I’m not sure if the little town with the convenient name is a King thing, or just something horror filmmakers are overly wont to do (see Darkness Falls). In any case, this film started out sort of interesting but became utterly predictable within the first ten minutes.

This is really too bad. Up to this point, I had yet to see a film with Ron Perlman in it that I didn’t like, whether it was Cronos or Alien Resurrection or Hellboy. Even Ron Perlman as the creepy sheriff (and heaven knows there aren’t enough of those around) couldn’t save this movie for me. His character isn’t around that long, and anything good or interesting or scary he presents is quickly counteracted by the presence of Cynthia and Steve.

Cynthia and Steve are a couple of unnecessary tacked-on love interest characters whose purpose is to stumble around discovering things. Then — I can’t count how many times this happened — Cynthia says something brutally obvious, like “Here’s a doll,” or “It’s a hand!” This can be preceded or followed by a scream, depending on preference.

They eventually stumble over a Native-American-looking dog statue that some deceased archaeologist found, which can apparently cause spontaneous orgasms. This is never explained. Nor is it explained why, when Steve starts to pick it up to take with them, Cynthia wants him to leave it behind rather than sell it on eBay for a million dollars. None of the other little statues scattered around demonstrate any powers, and it’s never explained why that one does. The whole episode is completely disconnected from the storyline. It exists only to attempt to add some prurience to a story whose other characters are married, old, or recently bereaved.

Then — spoiler — the entire set of weird circumstances, from orgasm statues to the town full of corpses to the crazy sheriff locking people up, turns out to be caused by an interdimensional rift in a mine once run by Chinese immigrants. Yep. A gateway to another dimension. Not Hell. And the evil being is not, in fact, a demon. Despite the fact that the David mentions God about twice per sentence,* Satan is not mentioned at all, in any way. God just wants them to close this interdimensional rift so the evil critter will get sucked back into its hometown. This strikes me as a pretty silly way to circumvent the tired old demon possession storyline, and it’s such an obvious facelift that it removes any credibility this junkpile might have had as a film.

My advice to you as my dear, beloved fellow Mutants? Don’t bother. Go watch reruns of Stargate or even, Lord help us, The Ghost Whisperer. This film is not worth your time in any way.

*Another significant awfulness about this film being the dialogue. For every cool line Ron Perlman says, Cynthia or David says something idiotic or awfully stilted. Bleh.

Didja notice?

  • That RV’s door keeps swinging even when there’s obviously no wind.
  • Steven King trademark story items and incidents.
  • Not a film for cat lovers. Ouch.
  • You know, I don’t think horror movies have had enough little dead girls in them recently, do you?
  • The actor (Matt Frewer) who plays David’s Dad plays a doomed Dad in Dawn of the Dead. Try and say THAT three times fast.
  • Actual buzzards are pretty goofy looking up close.
  • God talks to you through your dead relatives? Is David actually into Shinto?
  • If you’re going to plant pot on people (oh boy, another one) make sure it is in an easily identifiable plastic bag with a big smiley face on it.
  • Videogame-like problem solving. Walk down a hallway from first person POV, open a creaky door, retrieve a necessary item from a corpse, etc.
  • Motorcycle helmets protect you from demon, excuse me, from “being from another dimension” possession.

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