Dark Floors (2008)

NOVEMBER 17, 2008

GENRE: Christ, fuckin... all of em
SOURCE: DVD (STORE RENTAL)

The reason I have been skipping over Dark Floors as I made my way through the Ghost House Underground set is, as usual for me, a lame one: it had the most extra features. Since I’m still not completely caught up from the madness of October, I have been avoiding movies that have extensive features, due to my OCD need to watch them all before I write the review (especially for rentals, as I won’t have a chance to catch up on them later on). But had I known about the awesomeness of LORDI, I would have probably watched it first. Hell I may have bought it on principle.

Much like Gwar, Lordi is a metal band that sticks out from their peers by dressing up like monsters on stage and in any sort of promotional capacity. This results in what may be the funniest thing I’ve ever seen on an extra feature, a press conference with the film’s director, two of the stars, and five grown men (oh wait, one’s a girl) in full monster makeup, sitting at a table and answering traditional questions. Even funnier, they don’t TALK like monsters, if anything they sound like meek businessmen. So you see this monkey man/devil whatever thing talking about when their next album will be released. It’s bliss. There are also a couple of music videos that are equally awesome, and a behind the scenes montage which is also inadvertently hilarious. It starts off like the usual boring piece, but then it just becomes a bunch of random BtS footage sans narration or talking head interviews. And then what has to be the band’s awesomest song, “Beast Loose In Paradise” just starts playing over it in its entirety before the movie’s ending is shown in full. That’s it.

Listen to this while you read!

I talk about the extras first because they are fare more entertaining than the movie itself. For something subtitled “The Lordi Motion Picture” (I guess they are a pessimistic group to use “The” instead of “A”), Lordi sure is absent for a lot of it. Each member has like one scene (and none of them are ever seen together), and they don’t even really seem to fit with the film’s general concept. Christ, Mr. Lordi (the band’s singer) didn’t even film his scene in the same building – the commentary reveals all of his shots were done on a studio set later on. And one could argue that the less you see a monster in a studded leather coat running around, the better, but since the movie doesn’t make a lick of sense, I say go all out.

For the record, the only one that truly looks like a goofy guy from a rock band and not an actual monster is Mr. Lordi, and since he has the least amount of screentime of the five, it’s not too much of a problem, but still, I think by keeping their appearances so brief, they actually seem MORE ridiculous. You never get a chance to sort of get used to the idea that these particular monsters are a bit flamboyant. Having never heard of the band until I popped in the DVD, maybe I am the exception to the rule, but when one of them busts through a wall, I wasn’t seeing Ox the bass player, I was seeing a monster bust through a wall. And I wanted to see him more.

(I have no idea if Ox is the bass player, or even the one who came through the wall, but you know what I mean)

So Lordi’s combined screentime is probably less than 10 minutes, what do we get instead? Christ, what DON’T we get? Ghosts, zombies, monsters... and maybe it got edited or I just missed it, but since the end credits point out that no animals were harmed, I guess there were some rabid dogs or whatever in there too. Plus, it all starts when the elevator breaks down, so it’s kind of a Breakdown/Survival movie too. And then there’s all the supernatural stuff. None of it is ever explained, and much like Somebody Help Me, the movie’s biggest blunder is ultimately the fact that the writers seemingly couldn’t decide on a genre.

On top of all that, the movie is ultimately in the vein of Jacob’s Ladder, Silent Hill, and most closely, The Sickhouse. It’s NOT all a dream, as Mr Lordi points out in the commentary (yet refuses to explain what it actually is, which puts him in the same group as douchebag fans of Donnie Darko), but rather some sort of moebius strip narrative, from the POV of a little autistic girl.

From what I can sort of gather, she freaks out at the beginning of the film because she keeps going through this ordeal over and over, and knows that getting on the elevator will start it up again. And she seemingly thinks that the key to escape lies in what color of crayon she uses. So at the beginning, she tries red (and thus says “I want the red crayon!” over and over), and that doesn’t work, so the end of the movie, when it all starts again, she tries blue. Again, this is just what I came up with for an explanation; the movie sure as hell didn’t bother. Feel free to post your own conclusions, as long as it’s not “it was all a dream”, because Mr. Lordi said it wasn’t. And he should know, it’s his storyline.

Back to the girl and her autism, she seemingly took her inspiration from Miko Hughes’ performance in the underwhelming Bruce Willis movie Mercury Rising. I half expected her to yell out “Simon is home!” And her “red crayon” nonsense is excruciating; she must say it more in the first ten minutes than Dustin Hoffman says “definitely” in the entirety of Rain Man.

Still, the movie has an undeniable appeal, and even though it’s slow at times, and offers almost zero gore (or even Lordi songs – the only one is during the end credits; instead we get a score that is mostly stolen from Nightmare on Elm St), I still enjoyed watching it, mainly because it stubbornly refused to make any goddamn sense. But also, the parallel timeline aspect of the story had some really cool payoffs, like when the hero realizes that he is the one who fired the bullet that grazed his buddy earlier in the film. It’s sort of like when you play Portal and you see yourself entering a portal from the other end of the room. It’s also incredibly well shot and looks like it cost a lot more than it did.

I also want to point out that, like Room 205, the back of the DVD explains far more than is necessary to describe the movie. I tried getting my wife to watch it with me and she literally got bored just listening to me read the thing. Think I’m joking?

“Sarah is a diseased little girl whose father is worried about her health. Concerned for her after near-fatal accident with a hospital scanning device, the father decides to immediately remove his daughter from the institution. With his daughter and her freaky monster drawings in hand, he makes way for the nearest elevator, but it breaks down, trapping them with others. Yet, the incident...”

Yeah, there’s more. It eventually gets around to the horror part.

I mean, for the love of Christ, what is so hard about this? “A man and his daughter are trapped in a hospital with four other strangers. At first it seems they have survived a disaster, but they soon discover that they are not alone.” Done. Unless the movie is a documentary about hospital equipment, or about a child prodigy artist, the terms “hospital scanning device” or “freaky monster drawings” should never appear in a plot synopsis. Christ, even a review would have glossed over those details, unless they were being used as examples for the terrible plot synopsis (see what I did there?).

The needless over-explanation doesn’t stop there either. The opening credits (which are all out of traditional order) include what I believe is the first full sentence in opening credit history: “The story is based on an original idea by Mr Lordi and Pete Riski”. Well that’s nice. I wish all of the credits were so polite. “The wonderful costumes you see were designed by JoJo Costumeface.” “Do you like the score? It was composed by Mark Musichead!”

Speaking of Riski and Lordi’s collaboration, their commentary is pretty interesting, because it seems like Riski is about 2 seconds away from telling Mr. Lordi to shut the fuck up throughout the entire thing (probably because he keeps making bad jokes and saying “...or was it?” whenever a plot point is explained). For example, during Mr. Lordi’s one scene, in which his dialogue is just a bunch of growls, he keeps saying the “real” lines, which results in Riski mocking his poor attempt at humor. He’s like “Oh I get it, you’re doing the dialogue.” Hahaha. Passive aggressive commentaries rule.

So I dunno. The movie kind of sucks since it’s not scary, isn’t gory, and doesn’t make a lick of sense, but the sheer ridiculousness of the whole endeavor amused me. And simply putting the DVD in is rewarded with the music videos and performance footage, so do that, and then if there’s time, watch the movie for the hell of it!

What say you?


3 comments:

  1. I have dug Lordi ever since they won the Eurovision Song Contest. Have you ever heard of it? It's a pop song competition held every year and twenty odd countries from around Europe send their song of choice to be performed, then rated by judges in all the other countries.
    And Lordi represnted Finland a couple of years ago and won. It was brilliant. Instead of strange songs sung in French and the wierd thing Malta does, a bunch of metallers in monster masks took to the stage and got the most votes.
    Brilliant!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I, just like yourself, liked and disliked this film. On the one hand it was an amazing work of very strange horror, and on the other hand it was an annoying Donnie Darko-esque trip.
    I also wish that the Lordi guys were in it more than they were, it would have given the film some more kick really.
    Does the Lordi guy explain why his scenes were shot separately, or is that never explained?

    ReplyDelete
  3. holy shit i hated this movie. i agree the parts where they interacted with their past selves was neat but it really wasn't fully explored.

    donnie darko made complete sense until i watched it with the commentary... i don't think they know what the movie is actually about.

    ReplyDelete

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