Unearthed (2007)

APRIL 19, 2007


Another unreleased movie. Coincidence? I dunno. I’m sure if I dig I could find something else to tie it together with yesterday’s movie. But it’s really not worth thinking about Unearthed for that much time. There are blades of grass to watch.

Matthew Leutwyler’s previous film, Dead & Breakfast, was a spirited but ultimately failed attempt at making an Evil Dead 2/Brain Dead type film. There were hints of brilliance here and there, but for the most part, it was a waste of time.

This film isn’t as good.

And I am even more disappointed with it than I normally would be, because this film has a bigger budget, more professional actors, and one would assume he would learn from his mistakes on the first film for his second. Instead, he has seemingly taken a step backward as a filmmaker.

For starters, the monster is awful. It’s kind of a bad sign when your monster movie has a shitty monster. It’s a terrible CGI creation that, when you can actually focus on it in the few instances Leutwyler actually stops using a blender to edit the film (one assumes to try to hide the bad CG), looks exactly like Giger’s Alien (even its blood when looked at in a microscope looks just like something out of Giger’s art. I hope he sues.) There are occasional “man in suit” appearances, but they are few and far between, and never used long enough to make an impression. The monster’s origin is somewhat interesting but it’s barely addressed, since Leutwyler is far more interested in putting his actors in uninteresting locations that are apparently lit with Smurf lights. In fact, considering how bad the monster looks, this may be the only monster movie in history that would have worked better if the people just kept talking about it.

The monster isn’t the only problem. His direction is piss-poor throughout the film, again even worse than D&Bs. There are occasional freeze-frames for no reason, nonsensical cutaways in the middle of scenes to other characters doing nothing, and he apparently has it in his contract that the audience can never be allowed to tell where any character is in relation to the others. Though one should also blame editor Shawna Callahan for these crimes (cinematographer Ross Richardson can be forgiven, since this is his first feature).

There’s other nonsense in the script (which he also wrote), like when we get a pottery lesson for no goddamn reason, and some half-assed backstory about Vaugier killing a kid, but not really (they never bother explaining it fully, but it has no bearing on anything anyway so it doesn’t matter)… whatever. Speaking of Vaugier, she has the film’s single best/stupidest moment, when an explosion causes her to not only fly back, but do about 3 backflips through the air as she does so. Nice work.

It’s not a total loss. Joe Bishara’s score is nice and unobtrusive (one cue in particular has a great Carpenter style atmosphere), the actors are good (M.C. Gainey!!!), or at least familiar (Charlie Murphy), and the practical makeup effects are all great. But their contributions are all but completely obliterated by the inept direction, writing, editing, and CG effects. As it stands, the film does rank slightly above other Sci-Fi Channel Premieres (which I assume this will be) based on those aforementioned highlights. But replace those elements, and you have one of, if not THE lamest of its type I have ever seen. And I’ve seen the Tremors sequels.

I should have known better when I spied a co-star’s name among the producer credits. When someone you have never heard of produces and stars in a film it’s almost never worth your time.

What say you?


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