DECEMBER 7, 2009
Hey, Twilight fans, riddle me this - why are so many of the actors from your favorite movie also in horror movies with incest themes? Robert Pattinson fucked his aunt in The Haunted Airman, and now Ashley Greene fucks her half-brother in Summer’s Moon. Not to mention Anna Kendrick’s Elsewhere featuring a creepy father/daughter relationship, and Jackson Rathbone is in Dread, which features a character who was molested by her father (he also had a oddly close relationship with his sister in Hurt). Plus the Cullens themselves are made up of vampires who pair off with (i.e. fuck) their step-siblings.
Anyway, Summer’s Moon is, obviously, kind of a weird movie. It’s like the “torture porn” version of Taboo 2, with every possible (straight) pairing between four members of a family played out or at least planned. SPOILERS AHEAD! Basically, the movie is about a guy named Tom (who has been shacking up with his mom) kidnapping and sleeping with a girl (Greene) who turns out to be his half-sister (something he learns and yet keeps nailing her), and then their father comes back and intends to make Greene (his daughter) his new woman. But instead of hardcore sex, there’s a bunch of killing and people tied up in basements and such.
There’s also a bit of Motel Hell in there, as our guy kidnaps the girl but also wants to make her his bride, and she sort of goes along with it. And hell, he even has a garden! But instead of people it’s just actual plants, and the people are sort of metaphorical plants, in that he wants to tend to them and let them flourish, albeit under his control. As “it’s ____ meets _____” plots go, it’s certainly the most wacky combination, I’ll give it that much.
But it never quite reaches its full potential. For a movie so steeped in crazy shit, it also feels oddly stunted at times. All of the deaths are off-screen (often cutting away to a character’s horrified reaction), making the movie feel like a TV cut instead of a movie that is rated R for “bloody violence”. And not to sound pervy, but there isn’t any nudity either; even when the father (Stephen McHattie!) takes in a hooker, we are spared anything graphic. It’s obvious the movie was designed to be sort of out there, so it’s strange that they kept pulling their punches. It’s the “classy” version of your usual “incest clan that kills hookers” story.
It’s also a tad on the inert side. They all but flat out say that Greene is McHattie’s daughter at a certain point in the movie, but it takes another half hour for it to be officially “revealed”, so the movie just spins its wheels until it hits that point. And the subplot about the snooping father of the last girl the family killed is wholly anticlimactic, since we know the guy’s a goner and again, we know nothing major will happen until McHattie returns to the family home in the 3rd act. The elements are all there, but they’re sort of in the wrong order and awkwardly paced.
I had fun with it though. The gonzo subject matter and McHattie’s fully animated performance smooth over many of the issues (such as a few terrible edits; the brother guy is injured at some point but how it happened and the exact nature of his injury is never made clear), and I was quite happy to have Greene front and center for a film, even if she’s made to look weary and filthy for most of the running time (I also miss her pixie ‘do).
I was also tickled by the fact that the guy plays classical music for his plants. I read an article a few years ago about scientists playing different music for plants to “listen” to as they grew, and they discovered that the best things were classical music and... wait for it... Bat out of Hell! Yes, apparently listening to Jim Steinman’s bombastic perfection made those particular plants grow faster and stronger. I actually relayed this information to Steinman, who brought up another study saying that it’s the worst thing to listen to when driving (because you’re more likely to get killed as you speed up along with the character in the song, I assume), and how the song thus had its own unique cycle of life or death. I love that man.
Oh and there are constantly flies buzzing around and landing on/near the brother guy, which also tickled me. Seriously, almost every time they cut to him there’s a fly on his shoulder or flying around near his head. And for every time you see a fly, there’s probably an equal number of times that a character threatens to cut out the tongue of another, a warning that makes at LEAST three appearances in the film. Make a drinking game out of it!
The DVD has only a trailer and a brief making of in which the director keeps saying that it’s not a horror movie. Since he is only credited as the director and not one of the three credited writers (none of whom appear), I assume this is probably exactly why the movie has such an unbalance. They wrote a horror movie, but he didn’t shoot one. The result is an entertaining but flawed film, and with its biggest appeal being Greene (the trailer even uses Twilight’s font), it will likely miss most of its intended audience and merely scar the minds of teenaged Alice Cullen fans.
What say you?