MARCH 17, 2008
Once again I totally forget to watch a Leprechaun movie for St. Patrick’s Day. I’ve only seen 2 of the 6 films (and the two I’ve seen I pretty much forget entirely), so they are perfectly eligible for a daily movie. So why am I watching stuff like Hack! on the holiday? Whatever.
Hack! is something I’ve never even heard of, despite a fairly genre-friendly cast (William Forsythe, Juliet Landau, Lochlyn Munro, and Kane Hodder in a rare turn as a victim). I saw it at the store and immediately shrugged and said “eh, why not,” armed only with the knowledge that it was yet another “killer kills the people making a horror movie” slasher film. However, either I read it wrong or they lied on the box (I’m too lazy to look), because as it turns out, the killer was the one making the horror movie; the victims were college kids doing some sort of eco-environment project on the remote island.
(Yeah, because it really makes a huge difference.)
Luckily the movie wasn’t all that bad. The movie references are pretty evenly split in terms of being funny or not; early on I almost broke the disc in half when someone comments “We’re going to need a bigger boat,” referring to one of the future victims’ excessive luggage. But later in the film, during the slasher staple “find all the dead friends” sequence, the hero points out the movies from which each of the victims’ deaths were paying homage to: “Hellraiser... Texas Chain Saw Massacre... Thirteen fucking Ghosts? Are you kidding me?” Holy shit, I almost pissed myself. Also, all of the characters are annoyingly named after horror icons, which is kind of stupid when they are all talking about horror movies – no one bothers to mention the “coincidence” that their teacher is named Mr. Argento? They also break the fourth wall when one character says “they always split us up in these movies!” or something to that effect. Look, it’s one thing to wink at the audience, but directly addressing them is another matter entirely, and since it’s the ONLY joke of its type in the entire film, it’s a bit stupid.
However, the same guy more than makes up for it when he suddenly breaks into dance and sings the theme from Fame for no reason whatsoever. They even pull a bit of a fast one on the audience here, because the guy is singing “I’m going to live forever!” over and over, yet he doesn’t get killed right away. Nice work. I also like that they referenced both modern and classic horror movies – some of these other types of “reference” movies seem to forget everything past 1980 or so, but we get references to Saw and even Jack Frost mixed in with Psycho and The Birds.
Another thing I was surprised by was the fact that, for the first time ever in slasher movie history, the resident jock douchebag character actually displayed a bit of humanity. There’s a bit where he goes into the freezing water and suffers from shrinkage. The others, obviously, mock him for this, but rather than punch out the nerd or act like a ‘roid freak, he laughs along with them, and later admits he thinks the nerd is an OK guy. The smallest touch like that (which is so rare it’s almost considered a plot twist) is enough to make you care about the guy a little. In fact, there’s a lot of genuine camaraderie on display (particularly between the black guy, the nerd, and the punk rock girl – the character stereotypes are actually part of the plot), which keeps the characters from being as annoying as they otherwise would be (and they ARE annoying at times).
The killers’ identity is revealed fairly early on, but there are still one or two other light surprises in store to make up for it. I’ll refrain from spoiling any, other than to say William Forsythe’s character is NOT the bad guy, for once. He plays a Scottish outdoorsman, and Forsythe positively revels in playing him so over the top and nutty. In fact, his character is one of the very few in his career that could be considered broadly humorous, so it was nice to see him take some time away from playing hardass authority figures or psychotic villains for once.
I was also very impressed with the film’s technical level. In addition to a surprising amount of bloodspray in the kill scenes (plus a few prosthetic effects, such as an eyeball popping), the film looked fantastic. The credits don’t provide any information as to what it was shot with, but some messageboard postings claim it was digital. If so, it’s among the best I’ve seen (then again I was watching it upscaled to 1080p, so it probably aided the picture quality). There’s a scene about midway through the film where some stock footage of piranhas is used, and it becomes even more apparent how good the lighting and quality stock for the actual movie is.
Then again, the quality is so good that it becomes even easier to tell that poor Drusilla is a LOT older than I thought. It also makes the digital effects easier to spot: there’s a horrible exit wound that doesn’t even stay locked onto the guy’s shirt properly, and apparently director Matt Flynn was unable to film this guy against a real sky:
That guy is Jay Kenneth Johnson. I knew the name, but for the entire film I didn’t recognize him from a damn thing. Finally I looked him up and realized why: he’s on Days Of Our Lives, a show I have created the end credits for every day for the past 2 years. Obviously I’ve never watched the actual show, but making sure his name and his character of Philip Kiriakis is spelled correctly from day to day is how I make my living. Nice to “meet” you, Jay!
The DVD is sans extras, and the humor is hit or miss (plus you gotta factor in how many people hate the idea of mixing horror and comedy to begin with), so while I enjoyed it, I can’t wholeheartedly recommend buying the film to everyone. But if you’re OK with this type of humor and like a sort of different type of slasher movie every now and then, you could do a lot worse.
What say you?