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John’s Horror Corner: Jason X (2001), a wonderfully bad movie featuring a sexy fembot versus Mecha-Voorhees in space.

January 12, 2018

MY CALL:  This is bad in all the ways I like. Despite ignoring almost everything that ever mattered in the franchise, this was gory, had good pacing and energy, funny and clever death scenes, and was self-aware in its own raunchiness and style  MORE MOVIES LIKE Jason XLovers of this film may not appreciate the early Friday the 13th (1980) and Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981), and I’d only suggest part III (1982) for the sake of story completists.  Then part IV: The Final Chapter  (1984), part V: A New Beginning (1985), part VI: Jason Lives (1986) and part VII: The New Blood (1988) were all quite redeeming—with part VII starting a campier off-the-wall trend.  So part VII and part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) get a bit more silly, and Jason Goes to Hell (1993) is outright bonkerstastic entertaining mayhem—like Jason X.

For some detailed podcast discussions about this quality film check out episodes by the How Did That Get Made? and The Horror Movie Podcast.

This movie is the now 17-year old 9th sequel of a true slasher classic… yet a classic it most certainly is not. But a guilty pleasure it was in 2001, it is in 2018, and it will be in 2118—such a joyously bad movie!  So, this classlessic begins on the Crystal Lake Research Facility… in space!  Yep, you heard that right.  Coming from a special effects background (e.g., Gremlins, Enemy Mine), director James Isaac (Skinwalkers, Pig Hunt) follows in the late ‘90s path of Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996), Leprechaun 4: In Space (1996) and Event Horizon (1997), and decides to take the Friday the 13th franchise to outer space.

Not only that, but we find Jason—who used to become ever more grossly decomposed with each sequel—perhaps in better shape (putrefaction-wise) than he’s been in a while.  And not just that, but we find him ALIVE—and with no electrical Frankensteinian resurrection to be witnessed.  So, for those of you keeping track at home…

Jason’s death and resurrection SIDEBAR:  Jason Voorhees (Kane Hodder; parts VII-X, Hatchet) has been electrically (or telekinetically) resurrected and subsequently drowned (in Crystal Lake or a NYC sewer) in parts VI-VIII.  Then Jason Goes to Hell (1993) broke any sense of rules and decided that Jason was a deadite that possessed new bodies either by heart-ingestion or wriggly mouth-to-mouth demon parasite transmission.  In that movie, he was “permanently” killed by his sister’s daughter—yup, Jason apparently had a niece.  No clue how he ended up on a space ship.

So, yeah.  Jason’s back and alive and chained up on some sort of space station named after the very lake where he killed about 200 people (if we include his Manhattan graduation trip).

Franchise Timeline SIDEBAR:  So when does this movie take place???  Part 1 took place in “present day” (1980), parts II-IV all occur in rapid succession 5 years after the events of part 1 (so 1985), part V jumped forward 5-6 years (so 1990-1991-ish) and (probably more of a writing flaw than anything) part VI took us questionably another 10-ish years yet further into the future (soooo, 2001…?).  Part VII provides no time statement, but could just as well occur in the same year as part VI.  I guess it makes sense that too much time hadn’t past, or the fish and freshwater bacteria would’ve whittled him down to nothing.  So, parts VI-VII could have taken place in the same summer, and VIII is about 10 months later (into the next year; so, 2002???) since our victims are on a high school trip around graduation.  No clue on part IX, but if it was also in about 2002, then the sequels have caught up within a year of present day!  And now we’re going to the future. So, who even cares anymore?  Oh, right, skip to the year 2455!

Jason has greater martial prowess than we’ve ever seen before… it must be the weaker gravity.  He’s trapped in cryofreeze in a machete-swinging attack pose (pretty sure freezing doesn’t work out like that).  Then a group of “space students” open up his chamber and decide to thaw the huge masked mongoloid holding a machete in an attack pose!!!!!

Incontinuity SIDEBAR: My past comments (see the sidebars in my reviews of part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan and Jason Goes to Hell) about franchise inconsistency get Hulk-smashed by the nonsense transpiring before my eyes as I watch with a sort of child-like wonderous glee.  Ever since part VII: The New Blood (1988), things have grown ever more exponentially bonkers and I couldn’t be happier.  Continuity out the window—from deadite destroyed by prophecy in IX to whatever he is now, Jason X and Freddy vs Jason violate the rules and timeline that perhaps once mattered to filmmakers and fans.  So, I guess the timeline really ends with IX, right?  You know, after his niece killed him when he vaginally (yes, I meant to type that word) possessed the dead body of his sister (and yes, they just decided he now had a sister).

Rather than playing off themes from A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987), NOES 4: The Dream Master (1988), NOES 5: The Dream Child (1989), The Hidden (1987) and  The Evil Dead (1981, 1987) movies, this sequel decides to pull from an appropriately different genre.  The sci-fi honoraria run rich as we have a David Cronenberg (Nightbreed, The Fly, Videodrome) cameo, Aliens-esque Colonial Marines and sinister financial motives, they’re from Earth 2 and en route to the Solaris space station (after the 1972 film), we have Trekkie jokes about “beaming” to safety, the Bishop-ish Kay-Em 14 (Lisa Ryder; Andromeda, Forever Knight) wants to be more human (like Star Trek’s Data) and has nipples and makes out with her inventor (not at all like Star Trek’s Data), and there’s even a gory little callback to Alien: Resurrection (1997; airlock scene).

The action, death scenes, special effects, make-up and gore are all adequate and entertaining.  We have a juicy slimy gooey behind-the-mask scene during another messy Jason autopsy (as in Jason Goes to Hell), the sleeping bag kill (during the Crystal Lake simulation) harkened all that was good about the sleeping bag death in part VII: The New Blood (1988) and feistily played on tropes about as well as The Final Girls (2015; based on this franchise).

Overall this movie looks cheap… as in way cheaper than any of its predecessors.  Sure, we have some wonderful “Jason pose” shots.  But everything else is direct-to-DVD quality; like porn quality down to the ultra-cheap sets (in some cases).  And don’t even get me started on the CGI spaceships. Geez.  But with “cheap” can come “funny.”  In a somewhat pinnacle moment of “Bad Movie Glory,” the ship’s repair nanites create an upgraded Jason that smacks of The Guyver (1991)—basically he’s a demonic zombie cyborg.

The spaceships are called the Tiamat and the Grendel (do we have some Dungeons and Dragons-mythology geeks among the writers?) and this sequel was hypersexualized (because… Dungeons and Dragons fans).  There’s an S&M mid-term sex party, a scantily clad autopsy, a sexy resurrection in skimpy chainmail, sex scenes (Lexa Doig; V, The 4400, Continuum, Andromeda), and a love bot with magnetic robot nipples.  Kay-Em reminds me way too much of Alice (Resident Evil; which actually came out after Jason X), all dolled up in a saucy tight black leather outfit, doing cartwheel kung fu, and playing superhuman gunfighter against Jason.  But the real highlights are the liquid nitrogen head-crush kill, the crawling torso, and Jason’s second punch decapitation (since Jason Takes Manhattan).

In an elegantly graceful swan dive into a lake of clichés, Jason is ejected from the spaceship only to burn up re-entering the atmosphere of a presumably Crystal Lake-like camp. And while this was the last we’d see of Jason until the 2009 reboot, I thought it was a pretty fun ride worthy of my time (again).

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Goon: Last of the Enforcers: A Fun Sequel That Loses its Central Character

January 11, 2018

Goon (2011) was a breath of fresh air that featured fantastic performances, great sports action and lots of heart. Sean William’s Scott performance as a badass hockey enforcer who has a heart of gold hit a chord with me because it proved  nice dudes could also beat people up. It featured a charming central relationship that let Alison Pill to shine, and allowed Leiv Schreiber to become one of the most believable badasses I’d seen in a long time. Goon is in constant rotation at my house and I’ve pretty much told everyone how great it is.

Goon: The Last of the Enforcers begins with Doug taking a beating to a hot new prospect named Anders Cain (Wyatt Russell). The beating forces him to retire from hockey, accept a job selling insurance, and settle down with his pregnant wife Eva (Alison Pill). The retired life proves to be boring, so Doug starts secretly training for hockey again and finds himself back in touch with his frenemy Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber – always great).  Ross starts teaching Doug the art of “southpaw” fighting, and enters Doug into some hockey fight clubs where he can get his mojo back. Eventually, Doug finds himself back on the team, but he has to learn to coexist with the new captain Anders (of course) who joined the squad after Doug left.

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Watching Goon: Last of the Enforcers was tough because it felt like one of my favorite characters was being lost in the shuffle and becoming something he wasn’t. I really disliked that Doug started to regress in regards to intelligence and earnestness. It didn’t seem natural that he would lie to his wife considering he is so honest he got himself beat up because he stole Eva from other guy. Also, Scott was so great in Goon I wanted him to have another showcase to prove he is capable of carrying non-Stifler roles in the future.

I listened to a lot of Jay Baruchel’s Goon: Last of the Enforcers interviews (Happy Sad Confused is the best) and it’s evident he loves the characters and put everything he had into the film. I don’t want to say anything negative about the process because he wanted to step up and direct. I’ve also worked on many sets and know how difficult it is to create a cohesive and coherent end product. I just wish that instead of turning it up to 11, Baruchel would’ve focused more on what he liked about the characters instead of making everything more broad.

I know I have no agency over the characters, but I didn’t like that Doug regressed as a person. It is a frustrating film that got better the second time around (Thanks Netflix). There are some very funny bits in Goon: The Last of the Enforcers (Holy shit on Mary’s tits) and it features a lot of people you like. If you go into the experience expecting a very different experience from the original you will find a lot to like about the film.

Watch Goon: The Last of the Enforcers and hope that Hollywood will realize that Sean William Scott has a lot more to offer than Stifler-esque roles.

The MFF Podcast #113: Elise, her Demons and the Insidious Franchise

January 10, 2018

MFF

Download the pod on iTunes, PodBean, Stitcher or
LISTEN TO THE POD ON BLOG TALK RADIO.
Please SUBSCRIBE, REVIEWRATE and SHARE.

SUMMARY: This week we discuss Insidious 4: The Last Key (2018), how it fits in the Insidious franchise, why is Lin Shaye so awesome in these Insidious films, and what makes the Insidious franchise work.  Along the way we also question the cash-grab nature of horror sequels, their high profitability, and where we estimate this franchise to fall in such debates; and we assess Pinhead’s footwear cleanliness and Dwayne Johnson’s fanny pack versatility.

Fans of this episode (or these films) should check out our reviews of Insidious (2011), Insidious Chapter 2 (2013) and Insidious Chapter 3 (2015; a positive review and a more negative review).  I’d also suggest venturing deep into the Waniverse with The Conjuring (2013), Annabelle (2014), The Conjuring 2 (2016) and Annabelle: Creation (2017) to round out The Conjuring Universe.

For more podcast discussions about the Insidious movies and the Waniverse…

Insidious 1-3 (2011-2015) in episode 18: Insidious Rex.
Annabelle (2014) in episode 4: The Sarlac Pit, Annabelle and jumping the shark.
The Conjuring 2 (2016) in episode 63: The Wan, The Witch, and The Conjuring 2.
Annabelle: Creation (2017) in episode 108: The Best Horror Films of 2017.

Download the pod on iTunes, PodBean, Stitcher or
LISTEN TO THE POD ON BLOG TALK RADIO.
Please SUBSCRIBE, REVIEWRATE and SHARE.

Mother!: A Divisive and Enthralling Roller Coaster Ride

January 9, 2018

Mother! is a bonkers experience that immerses you into a world that is loaded with obvious allegories and unexpected tonal changes. I did my best to stay away from the reviews and I’m really glad I saw it with fresh eyes. Mother! is an experience like none other and as the insanity unfolded it put a big smile on my face. Director/writer Darren Aronofsky crafted a religious/environmental/art allegory of a movie that never leaves Jennifer Lawrence’s face and thrives on sledgehammer tactics.

Mother! revolves around a husband (Javier Bardem) and wife (Jennifer Lawrence – crushing it) dealing with murder, riots, fame, flooding, renovation and terrible house-guests. Their tranquil country living existence is interrupted when a man (Ed Harris) stops by thinking their house is a bed and breakfast. Eventually his wife (Michelle Pfeiffer), children (Domhnall Gleeson) and friends show up, and then it starts getting weird. What starts as a quiet film becomes a wild ride that looks and feels like something totally original and earnest.

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I can see why audiences were confused by what unfolded in front of them in the theaters. Mother! was marketed as a horror film that featured Academy Award winning actors dealing with some sort of terror. However, the movie strays away from horror and plays like a roller coaster ride of paranoia, uncertainty and terrible visitors.  Aronofsky admitted that he wanted to make a divisive film and he succeeded on all fronts. I don’t see the movie as divisive because I was able to role with the allegories while spotting them fairly easily. I don’t want you thinking that I was only looking for metaphors, allegories and more allegories. I was 100% immersed in the experience, and when it finished I was disappointed that it was over. Very rarely have I had the pleasure of watching something as wildly ambitious as Mother!

Mother! is a rare film that feels totally fresh and auteur driven. It ain’t subtle, and I kinda loved that because it was purposefully turned to 11 to frustrate and confuse. Please watch Mother!. It is a bonkers experiment that makes for a unique experience.

 

MFF Special: Breaking Down the Mariner vs. Sea Beast Moment in Waterworld

January 8, 2018

Kevin Costner killing the Sea Eater in Waterworld has long been a scene that I’ve been obsessed with. I wrote about the Sea Eater in 2015 and Waterworld has been featured in my jet ski action scenes are the worst, and people getting swallowed whole and surviving posts (it’s random I know). I’ve always loved the idea that someone can jump into the water and be attacked/swallowed whole in a span of 20 seconds. The biggest problem I’ve always had is there is no way he would be able to stay attached the rope he was trolling on. Thus, his boat would sail away whilst he was trying to free himself from the innards of a giant monster. This means he would have to use his super swimming abilities to catch up with the boat, turn it around, and then cut the meat off of the sinking monster.

Here is a breakdown of the scene.

Costner (AKA Mariner…AKA Grumpy Costner) gets annoyed that the women on his boat are actively trying to feed themselves via fishing, so he grabs their fishing poles and throws them into the water. After throwing away his gear, he grabs some supplies (speargun, rope), turns on the boat’s trawling engine and jumps into the water (:46). Once the rope is fully extended he starts stroking the water gracefully in an effort to lure prey. Something underwater sees this display of graceful swimming (1:09) and thinks it has found dinner. The large beast surfaces and swallows Costner whole (1:20) and Costner ends up murdering the beast from the inside. Then, Costner cuts off roughly 100 (being generous) pounds of meat and three people feast.

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This scene left me with several questions:

  1. Why was it so easy to kill a monstrous sea beast?
  2. Had he killed large creatures before?
  3. Why did he throw away his fishing poles?
  4. If large sea beasts are plentiful, why would people ride jet skis?
  5. What happened after the death and before they ate?

After scouring the internet for data on the Sea Eater, I learned that people don’t know much about it (I got zero responses from people who read the novelization). I have nothing to go with in regards to the monster and Costner’s past hunting, so I decided those questions will be left unanswered. What I can fill in is what happens after the monster eats Costner and before they gorged on delicious looking meat.     

Here is what we know so far:

  1. It took eight seconds for the 40-foot rope to become taught after Costner jumped into the water. This leads me to believe the boat was moving at a leisurely pace of 3.41 miles (2.96 knots) an hour.
  2. He turned on his trawling motor before he jumped into the water. However, he didn’t use the cable attached to the winch on the back of his boat.
  3. According to kaiju.wikidot.com the Sea Eater is 40-feet long and weighs an estimated 20 tons.
  4. During the sea atoll attack earlier in the film, Costner covered 120-feet in eight seconds. That comes to 10.2 MPH which means the dude can fly in the water. I came to 10.2 MPH by finding a picture of the atoll, measuring the boat (60 feet long), and then measuring the distance from where he jumped.
  5. Costner let go of the rope after the monster attacked. I know this because the boat would’ve stopped momentarily and the rope would’ve split in two if he held on. There is zero chance a tiny rope could withstand the force of a moving boat and a suddenly dead 20-ton monster (watch this clip of a marlin sinking a boat for proof of what would happen if the beast lived).
  6. Since there is no sign of salt or proper drying methods, I’m assuming Costner only took as much as he could carry for one or two meals maximum. This means that at least 39,900 pounds of sea eater meat was left behind for other hungry sea denizens.
  7. It was dusk when they started eating the food. This makes sense because he had to heat up the charcoals and prep the food.
  8. The scene reminds me of a Mitch Hedberg joke

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Here is what happened after the monster was murdered:

  • After watching various clips where people have to free themselves from dead/animatronic animals I’m guessing Costner (and his super powers) needed two minutes to free himself from the innards of the monster. It was clearly sinking, blood must’ve been everywhere and stomach lining is a beast to crawl through (not speaking from experience). He also had to secure his gun because he could not super swim with it.

  • By adding the original Costner/boat distance and time it took to free himself, secure his gun, and start swimming I’m thinking the boat was 715 feet ahead of him (40 + 600 + 50 +25 = 715).
  • The women on the boat must’ve been justifiably shocked as to what had transpired. So, in their shock the boat floated far enough away for them to not hear anything Costner might’ve shouted. We know Helen could steer the boat, but after the shock wore off, the process of turning the boat around would’ve been a beast of a job. I’m also guessing that Costner was still grumpy about losing his spear gun from earlier so he swam to the boat and did everything himself.
  • Knowing the creature was sinking, Costner started towards the boat, and since he could move at three times its speed he only needed 75 seconds of super swimming to catch up.

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  • He turned the boat around and made his way back to the sea monster. He would’ve needed AT LEAST seven minutes to turn the boat around, travel back to the monster and anchor the boat. I’m guessing he was able to speed up the 1,840 foot return journey which would cut down the trip.
  • He dove down to catch the sinking beast. I don’t know anything about the floating tendencies of dead 20 ton monsters with holes in them, but it seems likely that it would sink because there is no way gasses could build up because of the massive holes in it (Thanks research!).

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  • He prepped the diving bell (watch underwater Denver scene) and gathered supplies (five minutes) and dove to the bottom of the ocean to cut off some prime meat and potentially fist fight another creature (eight minutes). After watching various clips of chumming it’s evident that the majority of the stuff that exploded would’ve sunk by the time he returned.
  • He swam back up and put all of his gear back in place because he is particular like that (eight minutes).
  • The cooking started (30 minutes to heat grill, at least 30 minutes to heat massive meat steaks).
  • They ate!

Conclusion

After breaking down all the variables (known and unknown) the entire process before cooking everything would’ve taken AT LEAST 32.25 minutes because Costner had a lot to do before he could even start preparing the food. This may sound like a lot of time, but it’s not too bad when you consider the killing, swimming, boating, prepping gear, swimming, cutting, more swimming and putting away gear.

There you have it! The full breakdown of what happened after the killing and before the cooking. You can rest easy knowing that you will never have to spend another sleepless night thinking about what happened!

If you like this dumb data make sure to check out our other posts!

  1. Jet Ski Action Scenes Are the Worst
  2. How Long Did it Take The Joker to Setup the Weapon Circle in Suicide Squad?
  3. Michael Myers Hates Blinkers
  4. Jason Voorhees Can’t Teleport?
  5. How Far Did the Merman Travel in The Cabin in the Woods?
  6. How Far Did Matthew McConaughey Jump in Reign of Fire?
  7. How Fast can Leatherface Run?
  8. Deep Blue Sea and Stellan Skarsgard
  9. How Far Did Michael Myers Drive in Halloween H20: 20 Years Later
  10. How Did the Geologist Get Lost in Prometheus?
  11. People Love a Bearded Kurt Russell
  12. A Closer Look at Movies That Feature the Words Great, Good, Best, Perfect and Fantastic
  13. An In-Depth Look At Movies That Feature Pencils Used as Weapons
  14. Cinematic Foghat Data
  15. Explosions and Movie Posters
  16. The Fast & Furious & Corona
  17. Nicolas Sparks Movie Posters Are Weird
  18. Predicting the RT score of Baywatch
  19. The Cinematic Dumb Data Podcast
  20. What is the best horror movie franchise?
  21. How Fast Can the Fisherman Clean a Trunk in I Know What You Did Last Summer?
  22. It’s Expensive to Feature Characters Being Eaten Alive and Surviving Without a Scratch
  23. How Long Does it Take Your Favorite Horror Movie Characters to Travel From NYC to San Francisco?
  24. What was the Guy’s Blood Pressure in Dawn of the Dead?
  25. Why Were There So Many Lemons in National Treasure? 

 

 

 

 

 

John’s Horror Corner: Hellraiser IX: Revelations (2011), basically a fan film honorarium to the 1987 original, with a dash of home invasion.

January 7, 2018

MY CALL:  Passable, not quite the worst of the franchise, and uninspired.  But at least the special effects were okay, right?  MORE MOVIES LIKE RevelationsBe sure to see Hellraiser (1987) and Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988) first, of course. Then maybe Hellraiser 3: Hell on Earth (1992) and Hellraiser IV: Bloodline (1996).  Hellraiser: Inferno (2000), Hellseeker (2002) and Hellraiser: Deader (2005); all are more standalone films.  Hellworld (2005) is easily the worst.  Oh, and apparently Hellraiser: Judgment (2018) is set to release this year!

I’ve waited a loooong time to finally watch this film, and I waited for a reason: the reviews were abysmal. After Rick Bota’s (Hellraiser VIVIII) long run, director Víctor García (Mirrors 2, Return to House on Haunted Hill, The Damned) boldly follows the worst sequel to come before it: Hellworld.  And not only that, but he is doing so without the very man who breathed life into Pinhead: the beloved Doug Bradley (Hellraiser I-VIII)? Yikes.  But, to his credit, Víctor García has a filmography that I have found highly entertaining; not “good,” but enjoyable.  So, let’s see if the litany of soul-slamming reviews match my opinion… I mean, one would hope it would at least be better than Hellworld (2005), right? LOL

On a quest to get laid, a pair of Los Angeles teens—Nico (Jay Gillespie; 2001 Maniacs) and Steve (Nick Eversman; Once Upon a Time)—decide to cross the border to Tijuana for a weekend of tequila, dead hookers and Puzzle Box experimentation.  They open the box, Pinhead appears and spews exposition at them, and their parents (including Steven Brand; Mayhem) are left wondering what happened to their missing kids for months until one of them randomly shows up to a dinner party with some strange answers.  For whatever mystical convenience, their cell phones have no signal, the land line is dead, and all the cars have disappeared.

Bloodline (1996) took us to France and outer space, Deader (2005) to Romania, and now Revelations takes place in Mexico.  And not since From Dusk ‘til Dawn (1996) have I seen so many Mexican prostitutes murdered, which we see in flashbacks bouncing back and forth between present LA and past Tijuana.

Regarding the special effects, the gore was decent and looked visceral.  Our new puffy-faced Pinhead (Stephan Smith Collins) looks passable, the female Chatterer Cenobite (Jolene Andersen) is fine, and Pinhead’s Mini-Me protégé looks the best (best thing about the movie).  It was all fine… until I had my “good grief” moment: two lesbian Cenobites…  Really?!? 

But, you know what, that was actually forgivable.  The effects were actually pretty decent considering the humble $350k budget—impressive even.  I especially pleased with the face-peeling scenes.  As far as special effects go, I’m going to say this film was victorious at entertaining me.  Now, as a Hellraiser film?  That’s another story…

This sequel replays many familiar notions while painstakingly explaining everything in “no child left behind” detail.  We see reconstructions of Julia bringing Frank (i.e., Hellraiser) victims to reconstitute his body; they literally open a dictionary and define Cenobite; the vagrant is here, however gratuitously forced he may feel; the Pillar of Souls looks like something from an Ed Gein butchery (all mystique squandered); and we even witness a recreation of Frank’s original demise.  So, what am I saying here???

In many ways, this ninth installment to the franchise is to Hellraiser (1987) what Jurassic World (2015) was to Jurassic Park (1993) or what Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) was to Star Wars: A New Hope (1977); a fan film.  And a rather failed fan film at that.

All things considered—yes, there is a dreadful Hellraiser film that tries but fails to do honor to the franchise.  However, the rather even pacing of effects-scene reveals actually make this quite a passable film (although I’d still say the only sequel inferior to it was Hellworld).  Dare I say it, but to someone who knows nothing about the franchise, the “fan film” honoraria were probably helpful in understanding this world.

John’s Horror Corner: Mayhem (2017), 28 Days Later (2002) symptoms meet Purge-like (2013) tendencies in this corporate Belko-esque rampage.

January 6, 2018

MY CALL:  This film spends more time trying to be brutal than it does actually being brutal…and it spends too much time explaining itself.  Basically, this is Belko-Lite.  But, that said, I was entertained even if unimpressed.  MORE MOVIES LIKE MayhemThis film most closely reminds me of The Belko Experiment (2016) and The Purge (2013), both being clear influences.  The execution also resembles The Signal (2007).  Some other murderously mania-driven films include The Mist (2007) or The Experiment (2010).

Director Joe Lynch (Wrong Turn 2: Dead End, Chillerama, Knights of Badassdom) has an interesting background.  He’s helmed a brutal and thematically over-the-top gorefest (i.e., incestuous cannibal hillbillies), a tremendously raunchy horror-comedy (complete with a giant monster sperm), and a geekcentric comedy (i.e., LARPing).  During the opening sequence Mayhem’s tone deviates from The Belko Experiment (2016) with a more jocular tone as it introduces us to what is essentially a 28 Days Later (2002) rage virus—only this one has a time limit.

From bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to a cold suit, Derek (Steven Yuen; The Walking Dead) narrates his climb up the corporate ladder along with a brief history of this red-eye virus which leads to, you guessed it, uncontrollable murderous rage.  And guess what?  The virus sneaks its way into this cut-throat corporate office building to melt away moral boundaries and edify what remains with rage during its 8-hour life (which makes no sense at all unless everyone is a genetic clone and has the exact same immune response after being infected/exposed at the exact same time).  This odd time component creates a “Purge effect”—a time window during which mayhem is legally forgiven, and people behave accordingly to their incentives and desires.

After the introductory scenes, the exposition of the dialogue becomes overkill. At times this is sort of funny, but most of the times it’s just plain annoying.  I don’t recall thinking The Belko Experiment (2016) was particularly “tactful” in its storytelling.  But, by comparison, Belko feels quite eloquent.

Now infected and resenting his superiors, Derek teams up with Melanie (Samara Weaving; The Babysitter, Ash vs Evil Dead) to kill his way up the corporate ladder to the top floor.  On their way they dispatch seven-figure suits nicknamed The Boss (Steven Brand; Demons, Teen Wolf), The Siren (Caroline Chikezie; Aeon Flux) and The Reaper (Dallas Roberts; The Grey, Shadow People, Tell Tale).  The violence and blood are abundant.  You can tell this film really wanted to be brutal… but it just wasn’t. Violent? Yes, very. But brutal? Not when compared to the likes of The Belko Experiment (2016) or The Purge (2013).  Not even close.  Not that it won’t be entertaining for fans of ultraviolent movies.  People are beaten to death as their assailants cackle with blood dripping down their face.  It just never made me wince.

The major flaw in this film—what most kept it from being as fun as it could have been (for me, at least)—was that this movie couldn’t seem to decide exactly how this virus affects people.  Not everyone’s morals break down as the scientist on TV dryly overexplains—at least, not consistently.  Some infected people seem to have total control, some have odd temper tantrums, and some go zompacalyptically berserk with bloodlust. It’s almost like The Signal (2007) in how madness overtakes the infected.  One minute someone is calculating and rationale, the next they are mindlessly rabid.

Overall, I was left feeling many things. I was happy to see Steven Yuen step outside The Walking Dead while staying near horror; I was largely disappointed by the storytelling and dialogue while pleasantly surprised by the opening sequence and some of the general blood-lusted hysteria; and, I guess although I was not at all impressed, I was definitely entertained.  Take from that what you will.

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