NOVEMBER 4, 2008
When you rent a movie with a title as generic as Ghouls, and the movie itself is pretty generic, is there anyone to blame but yourself for bothering? No one’s forcing me to see these things. In a way, I’d almost rather the movie was terrible, instead of just dull and bland, because then it would at least be fun to write the review. This... man, I dunno.
This movie has two things going for it: competent direction/cinematography, and William Atherton. There is a surprising amount of shotgun action in the film, and despite what couldn’t have even been a 7 figure budget, it’s decent and occasionally exciting to see a guy toss grenades and blast ghost/ghoul things that look like they are the Ringwraiths and the Orcs combined into one thing (at one point, LOTR is even mentioned directly, so they can’t claim they never saw the designs). Also, a lot of it takes place during the day, which is an admirable choice when your CG ghosty things look like ass (if it was dark, the poor compositing wouldn’t be as noticeable). And Atherton seems to be having a good time during the early parts of the movie, as he gets to play a rare good guy (until the predictable “twist” anyway). Good to see him in his third non-bureaucratic asshole role of the year (after Headspace and Girl Next Door).
Everything else pretty much misses the mark. The general idea (girl finds out she is to be sacrificed and take over a cult) isn’t the most original thing in the world, but it’s a perfectly serviceable story. The problem is that the script (by no less than 5 credited writers) never throws anything unique or interesting into the mix. I guess we are supposed to think that the dad is a good guy and that his new age-y girlfriend is working with the cult, but come on, you know it’s the other way around right from the start.
And why can’t any of these “It’s your birthright!” chicks in movies ever be into their upcoming transformation? They’re always like “no, not ultimate power!” Just once I’d like to see this plot get used on a really laid-back girl who’s like “Yeah, OK, sounds good!” when informed that she is about to become the next cult Queen or whatever the fuck. Also, for a heroine, the Jennifer character is incredibly annoying and dull; not only does she not have any personality to speak of, but the actress delivers nearly all of her lines in a whiny voice that grows tiresome after, oh, 9 seconds. Not that anyone could really pull off a howler like “You have to kill me now or the whole world will descend into darkness!”, but she has trouble with even the more traditional lines.
She’s not the biggest cast problem though. That would be James DeBello (aka the “For the nougat?” guy from Cabin Fever), cast as... wait for it... a Druid badass. Yeah. This is an example of the “Matthew Lillard as a prince” Boll school of casting at its finest. I mean, it’s almost kind of amusing to hear him say “I’m a Druid” and be totally serious about it, but that can only provide so much amusement before you eventually realize that no one in the production cared, so you shouldn’t either.
The DVD’s only extras are a bunch of trailers for other terrible looking DTV nonsense like Cyborg Soldier, which doesn’t even seem to be trying to distinguish itself from Universal Soldier. There’s also one called Sharks In Venice which I assume was greenlit based on the presumed success of Snakes on a Plane. Stephen Baldwin (who co-starred with Atherton in Bio-Dome, a movie they both probably thought would be their low point until these things came along) stars in that one. It looked hilariously bad, so look for a review soon!
What say you?