Wednesday, June 5, 2013


The folks over at Inception Media Group released a grab-bag of geek genre goodness this past May, and I've finally gotten around to tackling the three films they've presented.  I eagerly awaited the sci-fi adventure Battle Earth, familiar looking ghost story, A Haunting at Silver Falls, and the promise of thrilling horror with Stripped.  Shortly after these DVDs arrived in my mailbox, a beautiful thing called "finals week during my last semester of college" reared its ugly head and these DVDs were pushed to the back burner in place of Adderall and Red Bull.  I have decided to review these films as a group, because they arrived together and were all watched in the same sitting.  My mood was greatly affected by the completion of each film, and some residual emotions trickled down into the next film.  Normally, I wouldn't condone this sort of behavior, but I highly doubt these films were going to have a vast improvement upon further views.

Battle Earth was the first on the chopping block.  I'll admit, looking at this cover got me a lot more excited than it should have.  One of my earliest memories of science-fiction movies was watching Independence Day at the drive-in with my mother. (I was born in 1990. Get off it.) The alien space ship on this cover immediately brought back some nostalgic feelings of my childhood.  I got sucked into the hype, and was immediately kicked out of it.  This movie was a bigger disappointment than the similarly named Battlefield Earth.  Wanna know why? There's no battle. Zilch. Nada. Nope. This film was nothing more than a couple of Canadian soldiers dicking around in a forest talking about shit. That's it. There's some weird "Holy crap, now we're running and the camera suddenly turns into Cloverfield" moments that does nothing more than muddy up the dialogue and give me a headache.  The CGI looks better in most SyFy made-for-TV movies, and the alien (yes, there is only ONE alien in the entire movie) looks like a bastard rip-off of a Cthulhu & District 9-esque Halloween costume.  I keep mentioning other films in this review, because Battle Earth is nothing more than a re-hashing of every sci-fi trope ever thrown in an invasion film.  Hell, I was waiting for Slim Whitman's "Indian Love Call," to play just to ensure EVERY alien invasion movie was ripped off at some point.  This movie may take the crown for the most misleading cover art in the history of cinema, and I would bet my college tuition loans that I'm not the only one completely duped by this cover art.  It should be punishable by law to have such a misleading cover for such a boring movie.  Honestly? This doesn't even deserve to call itself a movie, I've seen more intense fights on a playground and better camera work from my drunken relatives at family reunions.  I could have examined my belly button for an hour and whatever minutes and done more for cinema than this piece of garbage. Ultimately, this was an incredibly boring movie that I wouldn't even re-gift to someone as a White Elephant present.

Hoping to cleanse the palate left from the turd sandwich of Battle Earth, I turned to the ghost movie A Haunting at Silver Falls.  Apparently inspired by true events, (but aren't all ghost movies at this point?) A Haunting at Silver Falls feels like every single ghost story your older sister told you when you were a kid to give you nightmares.  Surprisingly, this movie wasn't nearly as bad as I had anticipated. Sure, the story is a bit simplistic and the scare factor is only appealing to a younger audience, but I actually might keep this one around as a gateway horror flick for the little ones in my life.  It really does feel like badly written creepypasta, but the film itself looks quite lovely and is pretty well cast.  The story follows a girl who has moved in with her sister after the death of their father, and finds herself being followed by the ghostly presence of a young girl (that screams like something out of a scary maze game.)  There's the typical 'scary twin' factor going on, but the acting is actually pretty solid.  Despite a laughably unoriginal storyline, the film was excellently crafted without ever relying on cheap camera techniques or shock factors.  I'd be really excited to see what the director, Brett Donowho, would do with a more original script.  The biggest pitfall the film has is its horrendously cheesy ending.  Oh my god. I've seen fanfics off junior high livejournal accounts with better endings than this film.  The film isn't altogether bad, but it's nowhere near strong enough to survive the ending.  It's a sad day when the final 20 minutes of a film can completely destroy the first 60, but the ending is just that bad.  I'm not sure I'd willingly ever recommend this film to any avid horror fanatics, but it definitely could serve a purpose reeling in some "safe scares" for horror newbies.

Did you ever think to yourself, "Gee, Hostel III was such a good film, I'd totally like to see an exact replica of it with 1/8th the budget and without the ability to focus on one camera style?"  If you answered "Yes" to the previous question, have I got a movie for you!  If someone with dissociative identity disorder decided to remake Hostel III, you'd get Stripped.  For a director that was recently nominated for the ASC's Best Cinematographer award, it's mind-blowing for a film to be so poorly executed.  All of the found-footage scenes feel thrown together as nothing more than filler, and it doesn't really add anything to the storyline itself.   It's a bit coincidental that the last time I did a "three-movies-in-one-sitting" marathon it ended with a bunch of bros in Vegas getting their innards played with like a preschooler discovering play-doh.  Actually, that's an unfair comparison because at least Hostel III gave us pay-off.  The characters in J.M.R. Luna's Stripped are so unlikable, I spent the 95% of the movie just waiting for them to die.  I bitch a lot about actors that seem to be nothing more than pretty faces that want attention, and this film's entire cast is nothing but that type.  It was painful to watch, not because of the subject matter, but because of how mind-numbingly annoying every single character was in this god forsaken movie.  Don't waste your money, don't waste your time, I can't believe I'm even saying this, but you'd be far more satisfied watching Hostel III.

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