The Caretaker (2008)

JULY 24, 2009


I grabbed The Caretaker to take to Comic Con mainly because it had no extras whatsoever, unlike the other films that I was watching (many of them rentals that I wanted to get out of the way). So it’s kind of funny that I learned the next day that it was at Comic Con LAST year that I got the damn thing; according to my friend Ryan, we got them in a gift bag or something. Good to know. Movie’s a complete waste of time, but at least I know how I acquired it in the first place.

The script isn’t the worst thing ever. There are some truly horrid lines and “jokes”, like a girl who for some reason doesn’t understand the term “female charms” in a double entendre setting, and repeated references to Myspace that make the film already feel dated, but the backstory is fine and the pacing harkens back to the older ones, where it’s half setup and half execution (as opposed to a “Kill every 10 minutes” structure that you get in most modern slashers). It’s a formulaic script, hitting every beat that you expect and doing very little new (it’s actually quite reminiscent of Prom Night IV, of all things), but there’s a certain comfort in that. Unfortunately, that comfort can only be obtained if the performances and direction follow suit, and in this movie, they most certainly do not.

Let’s start with the “actors”. Our only two names are Jennifer Tilly and Judd Nelson, and it’s pretty obvious that their casting blew the entire budget since the other actors are all amateur and terrible (not to mention that the film as a whole resembles a short film a real director might put on a DVD and say “Hey this is what I did when I was twelve.”). Tilly’s role is entirely worthless in the grand scheme of things, and if not for the fact that her cleavage is always on full display her scenes would be the absolute worst in the film. You could edit her character out entirely and it wouldn’t make a lick of difference, plus they carry an absurdist tone that the rest of the film lacks, making them stick out even more. As for Judd Nelson, well, he only has two scenes. And since one is early on, you could be watching the film on mute (not the worst idea) and know what his other one is going to be about (hint: he’s the killer).

Oh wait, the guy that played the Creeper in Jeepers Creepers also pops up as a limo driver who acts creepy for no reason other than to try to make you think that maybe Judd Nelson isn’t the killer. It doesn’t work.

Worse than the actors, however, is the film’s horribly cheap feel. A slasher movie should have iconic shots of its killer, if nothing else, but director Bryce Olson and DP Vern Nobles can’t even be bothered to give him a decent reveal. More often than not he just sort of lumbers into the frame without fanfare, and the terrible lighting means you never even get a good look at him. His weapon (a sharpened fruit picker) is pretty cool, but you never see it make an impact; the five or six drops of blood in this movie are on wounds that were already made. The non-killer stuff is just as bland; two-shot, two-shot, wide-shot, close-up... there is simply zero flair to anything on the screen. Plus it all takes place in a standard house that wouldn’t even make a good location for a porno, let alone a slasher film.

Again, the disc has no extras, so who knows what these guys were trying to accomplish. Other than possibly giving one pause the next time they go picking grapefruits, there is nothing in this movie that clearly demonstrates why it was even made in the first place.

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