JUNE 11, 2007
There are many oddities about Popcorn, and I am not sure if they are due to the production troubles (both original director (Alan Ormsby!!) and star (someone else!!!) were replaced after 3 weeks by Mark Herrier and Jill Schoelen, respectively) or just a really half-assed script, but they really serve to make this movie stick out, if not necessarily in a good way.
For starters, “Popcorn” has nothing to do with the movie. OK, it’s at a movie theater, where popcorn can be bought. Fine, but that means the movie could just as well be titled “Soda”, “Ticket”, or “Gift Card”. There’s also one of the lamest final lines in movie history (“Can you hold me?” which is a far cry from the brilliant final line in Schoelen’s previous slasher, Cutting Class) which suddenly turns the movie into a love story. Speaking of Schoelen, she may be cute as hell, but the girl cannot act worth a shit. Her delivery is so wooden, she often sounds like the dubbed performer in an Italian movie. The rest of the cast is OK for this type of thing, with a few familiar faces (Kelly Jo Minter, Tom Villard). They are supposed to be playing film students, yet they never film anything and dismiss Ingmar Bergman, which is just confusing to say the least.
And for a slasher movie, this one strays too far from the established rules, serving to make the film not more original, but more oddly paced. For example, the killer reveals himself and his master plan with a half an hour left, and at least 4 would be victims still around. What sort of slasher does that? Plus, he literally leaves the climactic battle with Schoelen to go kill someone for no reason, only to come right back and pick up where he left of. Huh? He’s also strangely selective, with only 4 kills out of the group of 8 or so film students, a professor, 2 jerks, and an old time theater showman (that guy disappears from the movie entirely after his one scene). In fact, had the movie taken out its occasional F bombs, it would probably have gotten a PG-13, which would make a lot more sense, since the film is an homage to PG rated monster and mad science movies from the 1950s. The kills are bloodless, there is no nudity, and it’s certainly not “intense” in any way shape or form. And the kills are pretty damn lazy. The best scene in the film is when the film professor is skewered by a giant prop mosquito. And whoever directed/wrote it must have felt the same way, because they opted to do the exact same thing at the end to off the killer. Again, weird.
Even the credits offer something you never see (but didn’t actually want to): the laughable credit “Filmed on location in Jamaica.” Not, like, Kingston, Jamaica, or whatever. Just: Jamaica. That certainly explains all of the reggae music in the film, but doesn’t explain in what sort of world that it’s easier to send an American cast down to Jamaica to film a movie that takes place almost entirely inside a movie theater than to just film in LA (where the movie is supposed to take place). Like everything else in the movie, whatever.
I must point out that the intention of the film is A+ and is the only reason I’m not dumping it in the Crap genre. There is nothing wrong with paying tribute to the bygone days where going to a movie was an event, offering you something you couldn’t get at home with your own home theater. Especially in the wake of the pisspoor box office performance of Hostel II (the best chance the genre has for a while to climb out of its long losing streak – Saw III being the last real “hit” horror film), it’s nice to be reminded of when people actually went to the theater (and in turn, the theater provided the customers with an EXPERIENCE). There are at least attempts by some theaters to make things better. The Arclight in LA makes efforts to making movie-going a bit more classy (no ads, assigned seating, ushers stationed inside the theater to keep cell phone usage/talking to a minimum), and the Regal cinema chain has begun providing little remotes to customers that can be used to alert the theater to a problem (with sound, picture, audience). Such efforts are laudable, but they shouldn’t have been necessary to begin with. Hopefully, more theaters will follow their lead so we can at least begin to weed out all of the assholes who seek to ruin the experience for others, but I think going a step further and occasionally utilizing William Castle style gimmicks would help get people back to the theaters.
That or less crap. Either or.
What say you?