JANUARY 3, 2008
I sort of felt lame during Solstice when, early on, a character mocks another character’s Ipod, which has (presumably) been the source of the pop rock stuff we have been hearing. He claimed it was terrible music, whereas I sort of enjoyed it. Clearly, me and “Christian” aren’t on the same wavelength (also, I should not that the song during the end credits is top notch, if you like that sort of thing... think The Fray, Keane, etc., but not QUITE as weepy).
But the music was about the only thing I ended up really enjoying in this dull movie. In 91 minutes, there are maybe 7 of anything resembling action, mostly in the film’s finale. The rest of the time, it’s just some kids hanging out in a cabin in the woods, yakking away about whatever and spending far too much time dwelling on the death of one of them the previous year. Way to have a “weekend of fun” guys.
Of course, I never would have even considered such a film (it’s PG-13 too. Bonus!) if not for its director, Dan Myrick, who was one-half of the team that made Blair Witch Project; one of my all time favorite movies. It’s a damn shame that it’s taken him (and Eduardo Sanchez, who made last year’s interesting but far from great Altered) this long to make a film, even if it lived up to his first effort, but it’s downright depressing that after almost a decade, this is the best he could come up with (I assume The Believers, which he must have made back to back with this film, is better, if only for the presence of Johnny Messner).
To be fair, Solstice is a remake of a Swedish film called Midsommer (which I read somewhere has a scene of kids in the woods with a video camera; if that's true, the scene has not carried over to this version, for obvious reasons), so the thin story, overused locale, etc. cannot be attributed to Myrick or the other new writers. But it remains unclear why they chose not to make the concept more interesting, or at least add an element of danger to the film (at no point, even during the ‘suspense’ scenes, do you get the impression anyone will be killed or even harmed).
The cast is decent enough, acting-wise, but they are all bred from the same bland WB stock you have come to expect from these sort of movies (indeed, many of them are known primarily for One Tree Hill, 7th Heaven, etc). And whoever cast it should have been laughed out of the room for suggesting that these two could pass for the same age:
The guy playing the main girl’s (who looks like the offspring of Michelle Trachtenberg and Rachel Nichols. Mmm.) boyfriend is either Jimmy Olson from Smallville or Iceman from the X-men movies, not sure. Don’t care either. The only actor of real note is R. Lee Ermey, who looks almost angry to be there in his 5 minutes of screentime (at least they were honest enough not to make a big deal about his appearance on the cover).
The main problem with the film is that there are scarcely any horror elements in it. It’s one thing to build character and flesh out the back-story, but it’s another for the film to go so long without any sort of suspense or scares that you forget what kind of movie you were watching. I swear to God, at one point I thought to myself “I hope I have time to watch a horror movie today” during my viewing of this film. The only reason I remembered that I WASN’T just watching a teen soap was because the film was, for some reason, shot in scope widescreen.
The commentary is slightly more entertaining, mainly because Myrick is an intelligent adult, so I felt less dumb listening to him than the characters in the film (one of whom claims to have once wiped his ass with a potato chip, which doesn’t even seem possible). But there’s a lot of silence, and Myrick frequently simply narrates the on-screen action, leaving little worth to the track as a whole. And sadly, Blair isn’t even mentioned, nor does he provide any information why the director of one of the most successful horror movies of all time took like 8 years off and is now directing this sort of teen crap. He also seems to be confused as to how long his film is, claiming it’s over 100 minutes when it is only 91.
The swamp locale and half-assed voodoo elements reminded me of Venom at times. Sad to say, since that movie was hardly good, but you’d be much better off watching that instead. Come on Myrick, get back with Sanchez and give us the followup we deserve.
What say you?