MAY 25, 2009
I think Aliens was the first film I saw with Lance Henriksen, so it’s safe to say that I’ve been a fan of the guy for over twenty years. As far as I’m concerned, he’s a hell of a lot better than 90% of the material he has to work with, and while he’s not getting any younger, I still hold out hope that James Cameron or someone will give him one last meaty role in a worthy film. For now though, I will continue having to say “The only good thing about this movie (in this case, Necessary Evil) is Lance Henriksen”.
So it’s with some sadness that I have to point out that he also personifies a lot of what is wrong with this movie. For starters, he narrates the entire first ten minutes, and a lot of what comes after. Granted, he’s got a great voice, but in this case, the narration seems awkward, because it seems to have been an after-thought, a “necessary evil”, if you will, to help explain some of the muddled (at best) storyline.
If I had to guess, I would say that the script for the film required a budget far greater than what was given (just under one million, according to the IMDb), and rather than wait until the funds were available, or rewrite the film to suit it, director Peter Eaton simply filmed whatever he could afford to, and had Lance record some narration to fill in some of the plot gaps. But if that’s true, then either there’s a limit to what Lance can do, or he severely under-estimated how goddamn incoherent this movie is.
Let me try to describe the plot, based on how I understood it (for lack of a better word). Lance is a doctor trying to develop some new drug named Reficul (first invented by Alucard in the town of Nilbog?). To do this, he needs a town populated with folks under his watchful eye, some soldiers, a monster, and Danny Trejo. The drug, a neon green liquid that is injected much like heroin, gives people green eyes and a Darth-Vader style power to choke people with their mind. His attempts are thwarted by two folks: a cop whose daughter disappeared 15 years ago, and a reporter who is out to take down the FDA. But - plot twist! - the reporter girl has had her memories replaced, and the people she thinks are her parents are really the parents of someone else, who...
OK, I give up. I don’t have a goddamn clue what the hell this movie is about, and I even went back and rewatched some scenes that I assumed were “key”. Is the monster real, or a hallucination? The monster is linked to another guy, who claims to be the reporter’s dad. But is it really him, or is it the cop, who says his daughter was kidnapped 15 years before? Ah, who cares.
Hurting this movie more than the unparalleled incoherency are the woeful performances of the two leads (the non-Lance ones; Trejo’s role is little more than a cameo). Eric Feldman is the least convincing cop I’ve seen in a movie (even the two guys in Suburban Sasquatch were more believable), and Kathryn Fiore’s performance (as the reporter) is shrill and hysterical at all times. Watching someone have a conversation with her is akin to watching someone try to reason with a drunken sorority girl. I’ve never seen either one of them in a movie before, so I can’t tell if their terrible performances are the result of not having a clue what their dialogue was supposed to mean, or if they are merely bad actors. I’m feeling generous, so I’ll go with the former. Either way, it’s a shame to see Lance having to share the scene with these two; you can almost see him thinking “Wasn’t I just in a movie with Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen?”
The other crippling flaw is how cheap the movie looks. It’s shot like a soap opera and looks worse. The “best” example of this is the “police station”, which looks more like a high school administration office. Except it isn’t, because it’s obviously a set as you can see where the walls end (so if it’s NOT a set, then it’s merely the world’s most poorly constructed high school administration office). We also have a “Professor Colbert” (which is what it says on his desk; I guess he has no first name) using the “Interrweb” (their typo, not mine), and when he searches for a guy’s name he instantly gets a video that provides him with the answers he was looking for.
There’s also a scene where someone says “Would you rather have a million dollars, or double a penny (and double that, and so on) every day for a month?” He points out that at the end of the month you’d have 1.3 billion pennies. Well, his math is wrong (it’s 1.073 billion, and that’s in a full 31 day month; if we’re in February you’d only end up with a little over 100 million pennies, which is chump change), but he fails to point out the crucial flaw in this scenario - after like 8 or 9 days you’re going to die of tetanus from touching all of those filthy pennies. Then again, maybe that’s what Lance’s character was trying to prevent with his new drug. It makes about as much sense as anything else in this movie.
So here we go, another movie that has no reason to exist. The director didn’t have the money or resources to pull it off, but went ahead and made it anyway. Because there is apparently a need for incoherent medical horror movies with Lance Henriksen that someone had to fill, and by golly he wasn’t going to sit idly by and let someone else have the glory. Well, grats. Your movie sucks, but no one else can claim they did it first.
What say you?