Walled In (2009)

FEBRUARY 28, 2009

GENRE: SURVIVAL
SOURCE: DVD (OWN COLLECTION)

If Watchmen is a big hit, I bet we still start to see a lot more “outside of the box” comic adaptations being put into production, alongside the traditional Marvel and DC films. And that means we’ll probably get a lot of direct to video stuff like Walled In, which is based on a rather obscure French comic named "Les Emmur├ęs" - something I wasn’t aware of until after I had watched the movie. It’s curious then, that Anchor Bay would splash “based on the best-selling graphic novel!” on the back of the DVD and not provide the title or author, especially for a US release. Why bother calling attention to it when the intended audience won't be familiar with it anyway?

I can only assume that the comic is more mysterious and exciting. It’s a decent enough thriller, but also sort of lackluster. The setup is pretty great - a demolitions expert arrives at a building due to be destroyed and uncovers its secrets thanks to (or in spite of) the efforts of a few remaining residents. And the cast is pretty interesting - Deborah Kara Unger is always a welcome presence (taking roles that Sharon Stone probably would have been offered 10 years ago), and it’s nice to see Cameron Bright a bit grown up and moving beyond “I am the key to mankind’s future” roles. I have never watched a single episode of The OC in my life, so I’m not familiar with Mischa Barton, but she seems OK enough, and her character is supposed to feel out of place (a female demolitions expert - why not?), so it works.

But it’s just not particularly exciting. There are a few decent scares (the opening sequence is terrific) and one character’s death is pretty awesome (great capper to it too), but at the end of the day, it’s about a building. Remember that scene in Big where he’s got the robot that turns into a skyscraper instead of a car or a gun or something, and he’s like “Who wants to play with a building?” Same deal here. And not only is it about a building, but Barton also narrates with passages from the “Dummies Guide to Demolition”. I’m sure there are some folks who are incredibly excited over the idea that there’s a wall 16 feet closer than the blueprints claim, but the title of the movie gives the reason why. She also rambles about how it’s all about weakening a few key points in the structure in order to completely destroy it. There are also at least two scenes in which folks read and discuss books about architecture. I can only hope that Michael Scofield has gotten a copy of this movie; he’ll love this shit.

One thing the movie does have going for it is its creepy French sensibilities. Bright’s character is in love with Barton (ten years his senior, at least), and the 3rd act of the movie has him place her in a pit so he can watch her dance and kiss a fellow prisoner. She then tries to trick him into letting her out by flashing him. There’s also a scene where she hurts her leg, and rather than just roll the leg up like a normal person, she takes off her pants and lets the kid tend to her wound (and then gets confused when a 15 year old boy gets excited over touching an older woman’s thigh). He also has a vaguely “too close” relationship with his mother.

Oh hey, I need some help here: was the “1, 2, Freddy’s coming for you!” from Nightmare on Elm St a wholly original nursery rhyme, or was it a rewritten version of a traditional (and presumably not as creepy) one? If it WAS entirely WesCraven’s song/idea, then he should sue these guys. Not only does it sound identical, it’s even about the movie’s killer.

The DVD has a bunch of trailers (AB has seemingly finally given Hatchet and Behind the Mask a rest), including one for the film itself. We also get a making of that isn’t too bad, focusing on - what else? - the building and production design type things.

Strangely, today I also watched Pineapple Express, which I missed in theaters. Among its many eventually-forgotten plot points (I was underwhelmed by the movie to say the least, though it does contain many solid laughs) is that the James Franco character is an architecture buff. Only I could manage to watch two completely different movies in a single day and yet find a common theme that is also an example of why the film failed to live up to its potential (in Pineapple’s case, the incredibly lazy plotting, though maybe that was just a meta-pothead joke).

What say you?

5 comments:

  1. The original rhyme was "One, Two, Buckle My Shoe." See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One,_Two,_Buckle_My_Shoe

    Like many nursery rhymes, it may have been about the plague.

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  2. I believe the 1, 2 thing was based on the old jump rope song: 1 2 tie your shoe, 3 4 shut the door, 5 6 pick up sticks, 7 8 lay them straight, 9 10 start over again. Could be wrong, as I can't jump rope.

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  3. I dunno.. trailer didn't look *too* bad. I'll have to check it out and see for myself.

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  4. Your description of Mischa Barton's character reminds me of a snarky review I once read about Carre Otis' character in "Wild Orchid." Ridiculously asking the viewer to believe that this person would actually have this job.

    For my money, the closing shot of “Love Me If You Dare” (Jeux d'enfants) is the scariest scene involving walls in France. I still have nightmares about it, but then again my greatest fear is being buried alive.

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  5. The nursery rhyme, I imagine, comes from the old counting rhyme:

    "1, 2, knock on my shoe, 3, 4, shut the door, 5, 6, pick up sticks, 7,8...something something, 9, 10...go to heaven (?)"

    I just finished watching the film. I like architecture and found parts of it interesting (but didn't get the whole "16 feet closer" reference). I did like the parts where they're looking through the primitive architecture book (wonder how much of that is true...?) and the notebook (reminded me a LOT of 13 Ghosts).

    Like you, I was a bit perplexed by the whole "taking off her pants" thing. Uh...why can't you just roll up your very loose pant leg?! It's not like you're wearing stiff Wranglers or something. And then the whole thigh-grazing thing? Ew.

    Overall, though, I got a good creepy vibe.

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