JUNE 27, 2007
Look, I don’t know why I’m not labeling Dark Fields “Crap”. When I think about it, there is nothing in the movie to recommend (other than the killer’s motive, see below, preferably after reading the text above it). Possibly because after seeing my favorite non-horror franchise get its fucking balls cut off (plus part of its cock, and like half its spleen) last night, I am just too broken a man. Dark Ride, now is your chance! I’m dishing out somewhat positive reviews and not apologizing for it!!
However, I am still of a right enough mind to realize the movie is terrible though. The level of technical incompetence is right on par with A Brush With Death, but unlike that film, at least the story makes sense (more or less) and moves along at the expected pace. In fact, things might even move a bit too quickly – as soon as you hit play on the DVD, you are in the middle of a scene. No “LionsGate Presents” credit (or logo), or FBI warning, or anything. We’re watching a girl jog and we're not going back! Actually, the whole DVD is mastered rather stupidly: the main menu consists of “Play” and “Special Features”, which is a submenu featuring the subtitle option (that belongs in “Set Up”) and scene selection (which is not only NOT a special feature, but usually get its own main menu option). Plus it has "Play Movie" in it, leaving the entire “Main Menu” entirely worthless.
But let’s not blame directors/writers/producers/editors Al Randall and Mark McNabb for the DVD, it’s about the only thing they DIDN’T do on the film (far as I know anyway). Neither man has any other credits to their names, and I doubt this film will help matters any, since the technical mistakes on display here are beyond horrendous. I mean, if you’re making a “We’re lost in the middle of nowhere and need a gas station” movie, you would think that you could at least find yourself a road that DIDN’T have a giant fucking Shell station clearly visible in the background as the characters discuss how they have no idea which way to go for gas. It reminded me of that one "Goth Talk" sketch with Rob Lowe where he is in the “Forest of Despair” and there are some jocks playing Frisbee behind him. Later, a girl is instructed to wait “in case a car drives by” and yet does nothing as three or four cars drive by.
There are also some bizarre storytelling problems. For example, how the fuck far away is this concert? They drive for what seems like an hour or so, then when they notice they are almost out of gas the driver says “there’s a service station 45 minutes from here.” Well where the fuck is the concert? I once drove 16 hrs for a show, but I am an idiot (and I took two days to do it). I certainly wouldn’t drive longer than an hour or so for one on a school night. Our characters also split up when they enter a barn. “You two take that door, and we’ll go through this one. I’m sure they meet up again further on.” How the fuck big is this barn??? They approach it as if it were a fucking corn maze. And it must be huge, because a few minutes later someone gets killed and the other people don’t hear the commotion. But they make up for it later when the 2 girls suddenly scream and run from nothing at all. No sound, no falling object, nothing. They just simultaneously get scared and go with it.
It’s the strange little touches like those that make me sort of love this movie (I haven’t even mentioned the guy who has a fake beard for no reason). It’s SO inept that putting it down is almost like hating a kid with downs syndrome for not being able to follow Memento. Brush With Death had shitty sound, a general lack of understanding how a story is told, and not an iota of anything approaching suspense. But here, the script is a standard “Car breaks down” movie, no more or less stupid than any dozen others, but there’s a puzzling sort of charm to watching it unfold alongside the cameraman’s shadow that is visible in every other scene. And in what I believe is a first for a slasher movie, the credits feature a blooper reel (including one 'blooper' of a car driving by in a take, no different than anything in the finished film), before giving us a "ccopyright" date of 2003 (the DVD was released in 2006). Awww, come here, little movie, give us a hug.
And the killer’s motive alone is brilliant enough to declare this movie worth watching. As we find out later in the film, the killer is a survivor of a family who was butchered by gas thieves. So now he seeks revenge on those who would attempt to gas up their car using his pump. If a gas station opened next door (or people weren’t blind to the Shell station), the killer would probably never kill again. After watching something like 40 movies that feature characters who get killed after traveling to some creepy house looking for car assistance, it’s absolutely amazing to see one where they get killed SPECIFICALLY because they tried to get some gas. Maybe that’s why we never see the fate of the first kid, the one who fills up from the killer’s pump. He just completely disappears, so maybe the killer just destroyed that gas stealing prick. Strangely enough, at one point they find the corpse of one of the other guys, one they already knew was killed, and scream as if they are shocked he is dead. Why we find his corpse and not the other guy’s is beyond me, but you can ask him I guess: he posts on the movie’s IMDb board (and he’s pretty hilarious: responding to a guy who said he got the movie for Easter, “Sorry I ruined your holiday.” Hahahahaha)
I should also point out the high level of Canadahol in this movie: it is far more than the legal limit of .08%. “We have to get OAT of here!” is an exclamation I will never tire of hearing. One girl in particular seemingly goes out of her way to mispronounce her “about”s and “without”s. And it’s actually SET in Canada as well, so kudos to Randall and McNabb. Many of their peers have forever damaged the United States’ tourism board by making it look like you can find yourself stranded in the middle of nowhere and then killed in just about every state. Dark Fields is here to remind us: Canada has backwoods psychopaths too!
In closing, I would like to leave you with this bit of trivia. The original title of the film was “Study Hell”, which brings to mind a high school set horror movie. However, only one scene in the film is set in school, and it’s a doozy. As the scene begins, our lead drops her books for no reason, then sits down. The teacher the enters and asks the class to begin by diagramming a short story (?). We then immediately cut to a random girl we never see again, then the teacher smiling, and then… the bell rings. Total classroom time: maybe 23 seconds. There are no fades or shots of the clock or anything to denote any time has actually passed. Further hilariating matters, someone off-screen says “I thought this class would NEVER end.” Christ, have some fucking patience!
What say you?