JUNE 8, 2008
Man, I wish Sight was merely a short story or novella that I had read. Or even if I had just read the script, I’d probably come away liking it a lot more. Because it’s an interesting story (a guy who sees ghosts gets caught up in a mystery involving a woman he meets just prior to being beaten into a 2 year coma by her ex-boyfriend), but Adam Ahlbrandt’s direction is abysmal at best, and all but completely betrays his own script.
For starters, the editing is just terrible. Shots last too long or not long enough (more the latter than the former – someone taking a bag out of the back of a truck somehow takes more shots than seconds) throughout the film, and nonsensical cutaways to things like keys being dropped into a bowl happen so quickly you gotta wonder why they bothered with them at all. As for the camerawork, it’s no better - blocking is confusing (his lack of following the 180 rule doesn’t help), everything is shot in canted angle close-ups that even Michael Bay would find extreme, there are almost NO reaction shots or even cross-cutting during conversations – someone says a line, then pauses, we cut the other person right before they begin to speak, they say their line, pause, we cut back to the other..., etc. Sound is also atrocious – whenever there is a cut, the audio level/tone cuts as well, and with the quick cutting, this gives some scenes (particularly the noisier outdoor ones) an incredibly unprofessional feel. Your movie can cost 100 million or 10 cents, it’s entirely free to record 2 minutes of room tone and lay it out over the entire scene to help blend the cuts together. Last I checked, Sight is not a sequel to a giant blockbuster – the release date isn’t set in stone, so you can take an extra few days to make your film more presentable. The old excuse “it’s supposed to make you feel uncomfortable” only applies when you employ the technique in small doses and in particular scenes; why should we ‘uncomfortable’ during a scene of someone delivering groceries (the woefully underrated film Stay, with Naomi Watts, is a good example of how to ‘break the rules’ effectively)? And normally I share the blame with the editor or DP, but in this case it’s all the same guy (he also composed the score, which I didn’t have a problem with). It’s admirable that he did so much on the film, but when his talents (writing, composing) are marred by his weaknesses (directing, shooting, editing), it’s ultimately just a shame.
Another flaw in the film is structuring it in a way that keeps the incredibly beautiful Allison Persaud out of it for a solid 40 minutes, but I won’t hold that against it.
The guy playing the lead has to have the record for most jobs held by a single person in a film (well, except for Ahlbrandt). Granted, all indies have some doubling or tripling of duties, but usually its like the makeup guy is also in the movie as the monster or the producer also did the music or something. But Clayton Haske takes the cake. Not only is he the star (and in every scene of the film except for a few flashbacks to his character as a kid), but also the producer, the casting director, and the production manager! Goddamn, man. He also resembles Jimmy Eat World lead singer Jim Adkins, which makes me wish Haske had used his producer/casting skills to actually HIRE Adkins to play the lead, which might have let him pay more attention to his director’s terrible camerawork and editing. Plus, maybe Adkins would break into “Carry You” or “Your Sweetness” and liven things up a little.
Still, like I said, it’s an interesting little story, and at 80 minutes it moves along OK enough, though it’s padded out with numerous quick cut flashbacks to information, as if we were stupid and couldn’t remember people’s names or something (at one point they ‘remind’ us of something we saw not 5 minutes before). There are some brutal killing/injuries for gorehounds to enjoy, and the twist ending is deliriously batshit. There is also a brief incestuous overtone; always welcome (THAT’s how you make an audience uneasy – not by framing a guy so you can only see his right cheek and eyeball).
Here’s a movie I am all for remaking. Take the script, maybe flesh out certain aspects of it, and have it filmed by someone who knows what they are doing, and viola: Decent/good, fairly original (irony of being remake aside) horror movie. But no, Lionsgate (who distributed this movie, and again they gave it an anamorphic transfer! Two in a row!) is more interested in remaking My Bloody Valentine, which is sounding more and more like a shot for shot remake (if that’s the case they better retain the goddamn end title song!), i.e. worthless.
What say you?