FEBRUARY 12, 2007
There must be a lot of empty seats at the weddings of unseen movie characters. That’s the destination of our four heroes in Ti West's The Roost, and like all of their cinematic ancestors, their car breaks down on the way (the filmmakers obviously couldn’t afford to actually wreck the car so this scene is hilarious). Seeking help, the kids go to a barn that is loaded with killer bats. If they are bitten, they turn into zombies. After a few deaths, the survivors find a means of escape, only to get to the edge of town and find their route blocked. They get out of the car and get killed too. The end.
That’s it. That’s the whole movie. It could be 15 minutes long, maybe 20. Instead, it’s 80. The other 60 minutes are filled with long pauses between dialogue, cutaways to things like empty doorways, empty hallways, and empty driveways, and a Zacherley-esque horror host who, at one point, interrupts the film to express his dismay with the current scene, then rewinds the film and has the characters do something else. Whatever.
It could have been a really great short horror film. The idea is great, the acting is fine (Wil Horneff!!! Ghost in the Machine for life!!), the main girl is hot as hell, and the 16mm film looks sweet and totally appropriate for the retro feel. But by needlessly padding the film out to (barely) feature length, it often becomes a chore. Perhaps it should be used as the basis for an AVID exercise given to first year film students. “Here kids, here’s 80 minutes of film (well, actually 70, with about 10 for credits). Cut it down to 15-25 minutes.” There are a few technical problems as well (muffled audio, confusing blocking, etc), but none of that would have mattered if director/writer/editor/etc Ti West kept the film going and knew when to trim his shots. Hopefully his Cabin Fever sequel, if nothing else, will utilize better editing.
And it’s a giant missed opportunity that the DVD has no commentary track, since the film would be useful to film students and the like. Padding or not, West still made a full length film with a small crew and little money which led to him directing a major horror film, which is to be lauded and respected (regardless of how the original film actually turns out), and he could have offered advice, anecdotes, tips, etc. Instead, there’s a half hour making of that doesn’t offer much insight, though it does have often unreadable titles (drop shadow those mofos!).
I should point out that even if I thought the film was the greatest movie ever made, West would still be an enemy of mine for bashing Halloween III on the making of. That will not fly with me. “Stonehenge!”
What say you?