APRIL 7, 2008
Yes, as bad as the original was, this one is even worse. Filmed for what seems like negative money, it features hands down the worst CG effects in the history of cinema (rest easy, Stephen Sommers... for now), abysmal acting across the board, horrendous attempts at humor, and yet: a pace that makes all of that seem boring. When you merely yawn at the sight of yet another badly composited scarecrow shot, something is rotten in Denmark. Not to mention in your DVD player.
Who are the audiences for these movies? Blind, drunken, mentally challenged 3 year olds? Who else could possibly be entertained by this crap, even on a “So bad it’s good” level (which the original at least KIND OF had, at times)? It offers absolutely nothing, even to me, the guy who recommends The Hitcher and Black Xmas. If you can’t even entertain ME, even mildly, you’ve really fucked up your stupid scarecrow movie.
The CG is what really kills the movie. The bad CG on the kill scenes is to be expected (thrill as “wounds” slide around unnaturally on people’s skin!), but this movie has more digitally “enhanced” shots than a Star Wars re-release. The Scarecrow seems composited into every shot, even when he’s just standing there, and several other shots in the film (featuring the human characters) suffer from the same problem. And the film predates Sin City and Sky Captain, so the “let’s film everything in greenscreen and add CG backdrops” attitude wasn’t in vogue yet. At one point, our hero is composited into a shot that doesn’t have anything in it! It’s just a dark background, yet clearly filmed separately from the actor. Whatever.
Director David Michael Latt also felt the need to put orange, blue, red, green, and whatever other color blurs over most of the film. And at one point, our heroine is shown in color while everything behind her is needlessly de-saturated to the point of almost being black and white. It’s like one of the editors had a bet going that he could use every single After Effects filter in the film, whether it made sense or not. Worse, they add CG effects when they are not even necessary. To show a cell phone not getting service, they (badly) paste some CG wavy lines and static on the cell phone screen, which looks as unnatural as an effect possibly can.
I’ve also never seen the camera as many times as I have in this movie. Sometimes it’s more subtle, like when you can just see some light glaring off the lens (in another blank background shot), but other times it’s hilarious how blatant it is. At one point a truck drives out of frame and you can see the camera, (with tripod, red light, the whole nine yards) on the left side of the screen. What makes this example even more inept is that the shot is being held too long, and had they just cut when the truck began moving out of frame (maybe even employing one of those Lucas-style vertical wipes!), the camera wouldn’t have been seen. If you make a bad edit that shows off the cinematographer’s ineptitude, do they cancel each other out? Nope. Adding to the cheapness is the audio, which frequently blows out when people shout or scream. And like the original, it’s presented in fullframe, despite the “making of” showing the clips in the 1.85:1 ratio.
The film’s only sort of saving grace is this guy Gavin. He’s the ex of our heroine (Nicole Kingston, who looks like Mary Elizabeth Winstead), and he’s kind of a noble jerk. The irony is, he’s like the only one in the film who’s not trying to be funny, but since no one actually IS funny, he comes off as the best part. He also has one of the quickest turnarounds in film history – the heroine is trying to convince him that the Scarecrow is coming to get them. “There’s no such thing! It’s a myth!” he yells. Then we hear a fairly small thud coming from down the hall. Instantly, he believes her ridiculous story and springs into action. It’s amazing.
Top-billed Tony Todd gets killed 25 minutes in, and spends most of his screen time sitting in a chair or laying down in a bed. It’s probably the closest the movie got to creativity – it makes him look like he’s in it a lot (in the first 25 minutes anyway) but his scenes probably took all of 4 hours to shoot.
Am I being too tough on the movie? No. When you make intentionally bad crap, there should be some charm to it, or actual fun. This movie fails to achieve that, even occasionally. Its worse crime isn’t being so woefully under-budgeted and pointless, but simply being boring. Even the scarecrow showdown at the end is dull (plus, the scarecrow seems to have lost his kung fu powers), and even if it wasn’t it would be far too little, too late.
And there’s a fucking THIRD movie! Which, judging from the decline in quality from the first one to this one, is very likely the absolute worst thing in all of existence. Yet, I’ll watch it.
I’d like to note that my disc from Blockbuster is obviously a copy from a real video store, and not Blockbuster (it has the original store’s logo on it). I like to think someone took a huge shit on the original copy, and then realized it would be a brown spot on their account, so had to buy the movie pre-viewed from a bricks and mortar store and send back that disc.
What say you?