“When you’re growing up in hell, an active imagination is all that keeps you from losing your mind.”
Bobby’s rating: This is a perfect title, cause I hated every minute.
Bobby’s review: I saw this film at it’s LA premiere at the fabulous Egyptian Theatre. Sounds all cool and “Hollywood” right?
I found this event listed on a web site. While the name Bruce Campbell was enough to get me interested in it, I did some research on the movie before going. All I could really find was a brief synopsis and a few raving reviews (one actually said, “Evil Dead, eat your heart out”). The synopsis I found on line went like this: Nine years in the making, this movie (based on a work by Edgar Allen Poe and produced by Bruce Campbell) follows a serial killer who sees demons and angels as they fight for control of his mind. So I shelled out my ten bucks and made the drive.
What’s not to like? Oh, this could have been good…
First off: nine years in the making? Actually it took five weeks to shoot, and then sat on an editing table for EIGHT YEARS while Kallio tried to raise the money to get it finished. Eight years to find investors? I think that would have told ME something if I’d been him. And the phrase “based on a work by Poe” is a very general term. By general, I mean, they got the title from a poem by Poe and a few of the lines of the poem show up twice in the movie (once printed on screen at the beginning and once said by the killer near the end). The lines follow:
I heed not that my earthly lot
Hath little of earth in it–
That years of love have been forgot
In the hatred of a minute:–
Turns out the movie IS about a serial killer, but there is only one demon (affectionately dubbed “Baldo” by the cast) and one angel, whom the vast majority of the moviegoers thought was Eric’s gay friend for the first half of the movie. Baldo is in the majority of the scenes, because, as Bruce put it, “When in doubt, we cut to Baldo.” One could play a drinking game called “Where’s Baldo” (drink when he’s on camera) but you would be wasted before the movie was half over.
So enough whining, you want a real synopsis. It has a good premise. Eric is a 20-something guy struggling with the memories of an abusive step-father beating his mom. He has a fiancée, friends, and a job transcribing autopsy tapes. The memories still come back to haunt him, particularly when an autopsy deals with violence to women. The death of his mother by heart attack pushes him over the edge, and his childhood comforter returns to the scene. Although he doesn’t speak, his presence encourages Eric’s “dark” side. Through conversations and comments we realize this is an evil angel. To counterbalance the evil, Eric also has a good angel who encourages him to “save himself”. Eric begins a killing spree, his targets are women he believes are subject to violence from men, and by killing them he is saving them from the pain.
The scenes with his mother and step-father and poorly staged (her head whips back before the fist was near enough to hit her), Eric’s anguished screams of “I’ll bury you alive” just elicit laughter (not nervous laughter, more like wow-this-sucks laughter) from the crowd, and the good/bad angels don’t really have any good interaction. In fact there really is no chemistry between anybody in the film. I never really cared if any of the characters lived or died, except to move the action along. There was some huge, blatant foreshadowing of an event that didn’t happen. And these are just a few of the problems with the movie.
The violence is mostly off-screen, besides a few choking scenes, and what is on screen isn’t anything we haven’t seen before. The writer/director/star claimed it’s a “creepy little movie” that gave him nightmares. Um… nope. No nightmares here, except for maybe the nightmare that I might have to watch this again.
Some people thought this movie was brilliant. It could have been good, but it just fell flat. It didn’t truly follow any of the paths it started. It could have been really scary, or could have been intellectual, or a psychological thriller, but it didn’t really develop in any particular direction. I think the main problem was the movie became an ego project for Kallio. He wrote it, then directed it, and then stared in, and edited it. He did audition a few stars, but they didn’t quite meet his vision, and he figured he’d always been around for reshoots, so why not make himself the star? Then after filming, the movie went through four editors, the first one was fired, the second one quit, and then Kallio took to editing it himself. Finally, at the instance of a producer, they brought it John Walter to finish the editing. As someone who thinks they’re creative, I know how easy it is to fall in love with a scene or a phrase, or even a whole movie, and not want to change it, and I think that’s what happened here.
It could have been great, but I think someone in my group said it fairly well when he said he should have spent the money to see this movie on a six-pack instead.