MAY 18, 2010
“What is the essence of Nebraska?”, Tony Todd asks at a late point of Are You Scared 2*. It’s a question folks have been asking since it joined the Union in 1867, and a valid one to be sure, but I’m not convinced it has any business being asked during the climax of a Saw ripoff. Other things that have no discernible reason for being in this movie include giraffes, Tony Todd impersonating a turtle, Tony Todd playing with an etch-a-sketch, or the title Are You Scared 2.
See, as they are wont to do, Lionsgate simply took an unrelated crappy movie and gave it a new title that would connect it to one of their other crappy movies. So thus, as The Maize became Dark Harvest 2, Geohunt became Are You Scared 2 (and yet, a legitimate sequel to Machined simply became Reborn. Lionsgate must simply enjoy making confusing things for people). Luckily, it’s a SLIGHTLY better fit than the Dark Harvest “sequels”, because it’s at least the same type of movie - once again, a criminal mastermind is killing young kids for the sake of a sadistic online game show. But that’s about it - there are no traps this time, just a weird religious freak and a Leatherface clone killing our heroes whenever they find it convenient to do so.
And to give it some credit, they at least do a few original-ish things. For starters, we actually get to know our characters for a good 20-25 minutes before they are drugged, locked up, and told of their predicament, something you never get in the Saw films, which usually introduce their protagonists after they’ve been kidnapped by whoever the writers decide to show kidnapping them 2-3 films later. Also, while its clumsily executed in every conceivable way (to the extent where I think I now know LESS about the topic), the geo-caching backdrop is fairly novel, and there’s some effort to give them a reason for poking around where they shouldn’t be, instead of the idiots in the first movie who easily agree to play a game that will more than likely get them killed.
However, these minor things are the only reason the movie isn’t being tossed in the Crap pile, because it’s fucking terrible. None of the heroes are even remotely likable, save for maybe the girlfriend of the main guy, simply because she doesn’t whine the whole time like the other girl (who at one point complains about her car being dirty, even shouting “LOOK!”, but the directing/writing team of Russell Appling and John Lands aren’t skilled enough filmmakers to actually show what she’s talking about with a cutaway of said dirty car - just one example of the many baffling editing/shot choices throughout the film), nor is she an insufferable douche like the two male leads, who seemingly live in a world where geo-caching is the most attractive and awe-inspiring thing one can do with his life. See, throughout the pre-“oh shit” section of the film, we are treated to shots of very attractive girls curled up with their laptops, following their adventures online, which is supposed to establish how “awesome” these guys are. We also get Buffy’s Adam Busch as a sort of rival geo-hunter, who is upset that our main guys are about to break the record for geo-hunting.
It’s also shockingly boring. The least any of these fucking things can offer is a lot of bloody death scenes, but no! There are only I think six kills in the entire movie including the three villains, many of which are off-screen. Most of the film is given to the leads looking at their little geo units and trying to figure out how to exit (while ignoring things like windows and clearly flimsy doors/walls in just about every shot), or running up and/or down stairs (yes, we see them go both ways in one single sequence). That, or Todd in his little control room, talking to his turtle or just saying things at random. I really like Todd, and I’m not sure what he did to go from being a dependable heavy in several high profile films of the 90s, to appearing in garbage like this, but I hope he regrets it as much as fans do. Even Lance doesn’t stoop this low (well, Mangler 2... maybe they’re tied). Then again, Tony’s credit has a different font than all of the others, so he got himself a pretty sweet deal. Everyone else has what appears to be Calibri, but he’s got some “scary”, not Microsoft Word standard deal. Go Tony!
We’re also treated to some gloriously awful CGI maps and “walk-thrus” whenever we see the GPS screens, which literally show every step of the way they’d have to take in order to reach a giant yellow EXIT arrow (a waypoint, if you will). There’s also some nonsense about everyone with tracking devices, and they show up as blue or red dots on these screens, but the dots just float around on the diagrams in a manner not befitting any human I know (we will also see all of them moving around, even when the characters have stopped to look at it), and as far as I can recall, its never used for any meaningful way. You want to see a good “the beep is getting closer” scene? Watch Alien. THAT’S how you do this sort of thing. There is seriously not a single moment of actual suspense in the entire movie.
Luckily, the DVD has no extras of any kind, save for the trailer reel. I just hope whatever movie they slap the title on next gets the series back on track! There have been 5 Saw movies since the first Are You Scared?, it’s a goldmine of plot devices to rip off!
What say you?
*I’m sort of amazed that they didn’t go with Are You Scared TOO?, because not only would they get to keep the question mark in the title, but it would put it in company with similarly worthless sequels like Teen Wolf Too and Look Who’s Talking Too.