OCTOBER 5, 2008
When I did an interview with The Awful Show, they asked me if I had seen Five Across The Eyes, which I hadn’t (I hadn’t even heard of it at that point, actually). But it got me interested, and some research revealed that it would be hitting DVD courtesy of Anchor Bay later on in the year. Now the time has come! Does it live up to my mild curiosity?
No, not really. If there’s ever been a film that I would 100% support a remake, it would be this. The script is more or less great, but everything else betrays it. The acting is pretty abysmal across the board, and the camerawork/sound leave a lot to be desired as well. Apparently they only had 4 grand to work with, but that is no excuse for some of this stuff. Paranormal Activity’s budget was around the same – that movie looks like 100 million compared to this, if you want to believe that it costs a lot of money to record decent sound and present a quality image (wanna know a secret? You don’t!)
But again, the script is pretty great. A real time survival horror film with five girls trapped in a car, relentlessly pursued by an insane woman whose motive is never quite clear (we are led to believe her husband cheated on her and she is taking it out on these broads for whatever reason – more than Halloween offered for why Michael was after Laurie, at any rate). It’s pretty fast paced, and the realtime gimmick works nicely (one rule of thumb for realtime films is that not a hell of a lot happens until the end).
Sadly, it’s pretty much all undone by everything else. The audio is particularly troublesome; I had to turn the subtitles (actually close captions – so I got to read “thud” and “music playing” along with the dialogue) in order to understand a good chunk of what the girls were saying. They often shriek over one another, miss words entirely (lets pretend this is a result of great actors playing terrified, not amateur actors trying to remember their lines), etc. Granted, it’s not like the story is so complex that understanding every word is necessary (indeed, it would probably work just as well on mute), but it’s still an annoyance. Some of the dialogue is pretty wacky though – at one point the girl driving the van asks (shrieks) “Where’s my seatbelt!”. There is also a heartfelt moment where one girl apologizes to another for shooting bottle rockets off in her face (this IS Tennessee).
Worse though, is the camerawork. I’m all for frenetic “you are there” shakicam, a la the Bourne films or even Cloverfield, but it’s overboard here. There are better (and easier) ways to film events in a way that makes it difficult for the audience to tell what is happening, if that is the intent, but still come off like you know what you’re doing behind the camera. For example, at one point a girl hides in the trunk area as a girl is attacked in the front seat. We stay with the girl in the back, not quite sure what is happening to the girl up front. This is fine, but the camera begins turning 90 degrees clockwise, then 180 clockwise, back and forth – what the fuck? It’s bad enough I don’t know what’s happening to the girl off camera, but I don’t know what’s going on with the girl I am watching either!
Plus, since it’s shot with consumer grade...something (it’s so ugly I cant even tell what it is), it unintentionally gives the effect that there is a 6th person in the car with them who is filming the events as they occur. I almost wish that Albert Pyun had teamed up with these guys (Greg Swinson and Ryan Thiessen) and they made this film together, using his Invasion camera setup/idea but their script (none of the existing actors would be involved in this scenario, however).
I also wish they kind of had some more balls. Spoilers follow!
No one dies. They find some anonymous corpses, but none of our five girls get theirs. After a while, this seriously diffuses the tension, as it becomes kind of obvious that Swinson/Thiessen are seemingly unwilling to off any of their protagonists (on several occasions the antagonist has one at gunpoint or whatever and fails to do anything, there is also a lengthy scene where four of the girls scatter, we hear gunshots... and none of them are seemingly injured at all, let alone killed). It would also present the filmmakers with an easier way to film their movie – two or three fewer girls in the car would give the camera guy more room to move around, and the sound quality would likely be improved as well with only half of the shrieking going on at once. This can be addressed in the remake as well.
The DVD’s only “extras” are the aforementioned subs. Nothing else. Even the trailers that play at the top of the DVD aren’t accessible from the main menu. The main menu plays a crazy song that I can only describe as electronic metal though, so that’s cool. I let it run for at least 20 minutes before moving along to my next DVD. My traditional Monday “Watch the extras and write the reviews” marathon is doubly troublesome in the month of October extras – so actually, the lack of extras on the disc is a blessing. Still, I would have liked some production info or whatever. Oh well.
What say you?