APRIL 4, 2008
One thing about living in LA is that when you see someone who looks like a celebrity, there's a damn good chance it really IS them. So tonight when I went to see the premiere of Grizzly Park, I sat next to a guy who looked suspiciously like Ron Howard. If I knew for sure it was him, I would obviously grab him and yell "GIVE ME BACK MY SON!", but since I wasn't sure, I opted to just sit down. However, fate was on my side, as the trailers began, and there was one for a documentary/thriller thing about the same subject matter as Da Vinci Code. Halfway through the trailer, the woman who was on the other side of him asked "Is that your footage?" Bingo.
As it turns out, Ron is a very nice guy, and we continued to make small chat through the rest of the trailer reel. I wish I could have talked to him more about a few of his films, such as Apollo 13 (easily the best of the series) and, obviously, Ransom, which is my personal favorite of his films. Sadly I didn't get the chance. Oh well.
You might be wondering why I've devoted two paragraphs to a guy who has nothing to do with the movie. Well, that's because the movie is pretty bad. But it's NOT soullessly bad, like your Drive Thrus and what not. No, it's obvious that everyone was trying really hard, but that the film was noticeably shot without anywhere near the budget the script required. The result? LOTS of padding, very little action, ridiculously bad prosthetic effects, and just an overall feeling that had they had a decent budget, this one could have been a lot of fun.
Part of the problem is the lack of, well, GRIZZLY action. The bear only shows up seconds before he kills someone in a hilariously edited manner, amounting to probably less than 3 minutes of actual bear action. He's not even the only killer, as a wolf takes out one (possibly two) of the eight kids, and honest to dog, a SERIAL KILLER also accounts for 1/4 of the killings.
Yes, an escaped prisoner impersonates the cop who is supposed to be taking these delinquent kids (the "bad kids cleaning up" plot is lifted from the superior See No Evil, right down to the 'freezeframe w/crimes listed' sequence serving for introduction) into the woods, and he offs the real cop and another ranger before becoming the first (and for over and hour, only) bear victim. Hilariously, the guy seems pretty intent on impersonating the cop right down to the last detail, kindly bringing up sleeping bags and supplies for the kids.
And that's part of the problem with the film. 90% of it seems like deleted scenes from a better, funner movie. Why would the killer bring the goddamn sleeping bags up the mountain? Because it takes 2 minutes of cheap screentime up. At one point they just cut to poor Glenn Morshower (the film's sole bright spot) putting a clipboard up on a wall. Why are we watching this? There are also about a half dozen scenes of the kids discussing their crimes, none of which matter in the long run. And when the "twist" ending comes around, it renders some of what we saw earlier even more useless.
The twist(s) are so idiotic, I can't possibly spoil them for anyone (especially since the film isn't out on DVD yet, which is where I'm guessing 99% of its audience will see it). Suffice to say that the first twist is rendered pointless since it involves someone who dies literally 30 seconds later. Then the second twist is so dumb I actually joked about it 10 minutes before. Again, I won't spoil it, but let's just say that when I made the joke, it never crossed my mind that I was actually calling something that would actually happen, because it is so ridiculous. In between these two twists is a random, abrupt news report sequence in which the reporter says "(So and so) reporting live, from the woods", at which point I nearly lost my shit and probably scared poor Ron Howard.
I feel bad dumping on the movie, and to be fair, besides Morshower, it does have some good moments. The kills are nice (bad prosthetics aside), and there's a fantastic payoff to a minor subplot concerning one of the female characters' fake breasts. But honestly, I just fail to see why it was shot when they didn't have the money to pull it off correctly. It's not like the low budget horror scene is spread really thin and they needed to make SOMETHING to keep the genre afloat - it will probably be one of 29 horror movies to come out on DVD that week. And it bums me out, because I know that one of those other theoretical 29 movies will have the right amount of resources, but waste it on a totally worthless script. Team ups, people, team ups!
And why was Mr. Howard there? His dad, Rance Howard, was in the film for 2-3 minutes, also unnecessary padding. Ron also proved himself to be much smarter than me, dozing off for a good 20 minutes. He missed nothing. After the movie I told Ron that his dad fared far better in Sasquatch Mountain. But still, the guy needs to stay away from "Monster in the woods" movies.
What say you?