APRIL 2, 2007
Today’s movie was supposed to be The Grudge 2. But its 109 minutes, and I only had time for 90. Now, every review I have read of Grudge 2 has pointed out that the film is plotless. Then why in plu-perfect hell does it run for 109 fucking minutes??? Goddammit, how many times to I have to say it (to whoever reads this blog, and my cats): No horror movie should run more than 97 minutes. There are exceptions, of course, but I can guarantee that Grudge 2 is not one of them.
Anyway, Unrest clocks in at 88, so I watched it. I used up the other 2 minutes repeatedly hitting “chapter +” past every goddamn trailer Lions Gate threw on before the film (one for each of the 8 films to die for, plus a compilation trailer of all of them). I wouldn’t be surprised if the trailer for Unrest itself was among them.
This movie is notable, to me anyway, for being the only After Dark film I have seen so far (except for Gravedancers, which coincidentally had some similar themes to this film) that didn’t make me angry or just plain baffled (or in Reincarnation’s case, both). It’s not a great film, but it’s certainly worth watching, and undeniably creepy at times. Apparently the director went to med school and drew on his experience (I assume the Aztec spirit killing people and writing things in their blood aspect was made up for the film, though maybe not and that’s why he dropped out), and thus 99% of the medical practices and facts are true. Did you know that just about every flight has a dead body on it? I didn’t, and now every time I fly I will think about it, and then in turn I will think about that movie Millenium.
The Britney Spears-ish (pre bald, white trash Britney I mean) Corri English is one of recent horror’s more interesting lead actresses, since she’s hot AND can actually act (course, the only other female of note in the film is one of the models from Deal or No Deal, so she doesn’t really have to try hard to stick out in that area). Jessica Alba’s brother Joshua shows up as the film’s Noonan*. He looks exactly like his sister, which I guess is an insult to one of them.
Had I not seen any of the other After Dark films before this (for the hell of it I’d like to remind everyone how much I hated Dark Ride), I probably would have dismissed this one, but the low bar set by all the others (again, except for Gravedancers) allowed me to be surprised with this one. It’s low key and well directed (though the image is very soft, not sure if that’s a DVD transfer issue or intentional), with a few good creepy scenes thrown in. It’s surprisingly nonviolent (the R rating is for, among other things, violence, but nothing happens onscreen that I can recall) and definitely shows a rare level of maturity for a film with primarily mid 20s-ish actors. And the title sequence is one of the best I have seen in ages, with flowing blood making the letters over a piece of gauze. Unfortunately, the sequence also has tribal, Aztec-y music that foreshadows the villain’s backstory. Is this the only film in history where the soundtrack could be considered a spoiler? Actually most of the music is kind of laughable. And you can’t say Aztec in a movie without me having flashbacks to The Puma Man.
Speaking of spoilers, the commentary has one of my pet peeves, which is the director (or whoever is on the commentary) saying “I don’t want to spoil (whatever) yet.” If he has someone with him, which is the case here, the other person will respond in kind, and then they will discuss whether or not people watch the commentary before they see the movie. Who the fuck watches a commentary before watching a movie??? NO ONE! EVER! And yet I hear this idiotic and pointless discussion on many commentary tracks. Stop wasting my goddamn time. Talk about what lens you used on the shot or point out an extra you nailed or something.
In the end, the movies’ only real flaw is, ironically (at least, if you can still remember the beginning of this abnormally long post), being too long. It’s slow at times, and the story isn’t exactly complicated. With some script trimming, this would have made the best episode of Masters of Horror.
What say you?
*Noonan is a character in Armageddon that I am endeared to. His sole purpose in the film is to even out the oil drilling teams. There’s Bruce Willis, Steve Buscemi, Will Patton, and the fat guy on one team, and Ben Affleck, Owen Wilson, Michael Clarke Duncan, and Noonan on the other. Four and four. But since he’s not a famous actor, or the funny fat guy, they don’t show him doing anything else. Noonan appears in none of the other scenes where the guys are goofing off, being brought to NASA, talking to the shrink, talking about Affleck fucking Willis’ daughter, or whatever. He has 4 lines in the entire film, and when he dies Affleck doesn’t even cry over his body. Anyway, since then I’ve noticed lots of other ‘group’ films have similar characters, who serve no function other than making things even. In Unrest, Alba plays this character. Since gross anatomy groups are four people, but the movie only has time to really develop three of them, Alba has no real purpose for anything. In fact, he disappears entirely for about half the film, only to briefly re-surface near the end before being killed. So in honor of the character that first brought this strange little cinematic phenomenon (one which may exist entirely only in my head), I dub such character’s “Noonan”s.