JULY 22, 2010
For me at least, today began Comic Con. I drove down in the wee hours of the morning in a mostly successful attempt to beat rush hour traffic in LA, and thus it only took about 3 hrs to get to San Diego (w/o any traffic at all it would take about 2:15 at 60mph, which is my vehicle’s top “it won’t start making odd noises” speed). Thus I had a lot of time to kill, as I had very little press obligations and picking up my badge was a remarkably quick affair. So I certainly had time for Dead Tone (formerly known as the insanely terrible 7eventy 5ive), but after watching it, I wish I had just parked on the side of the road, or maybe walked, or anything to use as an excuse for not watching the goddamn thing.
As always, the main problem with this modern slasher film is that it’s made by people who watched Scream a whole bunch of times (and Urban Legend, apparently - the killer is a complete ripoff in look AND motive - it basically comes down to an unbalanced character getting “back” at someone’s innocent prank by killing a whole bunch of people except them). Christ, the first modern day kill (we get a “10 years ago” opening scene) has the scary voiced killer calling the person he wants to kill and saying that he wants to know what they look like when he kills them. Come on, people, at least TRY.
And like Scream, the second half of the film all takes place in a giant isolated mansion owned by one of the characters, who has a big, sex and booze filled party, the likes of which I certainly never attended when I was in high school (though I did watch Scream with a bunch of my friends once, while drinking Barq’s). But unlike Scream, which had the good sense to send most of the characters home so we could focus on the ones we cared about, our guy kills a few we have no connection to, and as the party gradually dies down (not a pun), our primary cast finally sees a few bodies and goes into scared mode, with roughly 20 minutes left to go but also 6 or 7 characters still alive, which is about the number we should have had in the first place, which would allow for such wacky things as suspense and character development. Even with the film’s punishing length (100 minutes, spent with not a single likable character), the sheer number of characters keeps you from ever truly caring about a single one of them.
Hell they even make a Basic Instinct reference (like, you guessed it, Scream), which is just one of the many dated references the movie includes. It was shot in 2005 but was only released in early 2010, but even for 2005 I was a bit baffled by that one - the character saying it would have been about 2 or 3 when that film came out, and she doesn’t seem like the type that would keep up with anything beyond the newest dance flick. Hilariously, in another scene, characters refer to Tara Reid and Eric Benet as “sluts”, which will go over well in 10 years (hell, 5) when those people and others referenced in the scene have completely faded from memory (I’m already having trouble remembering who Benet is). The idiotic Flava Flav intro (as the completely not scary sounding “The Time Keeper”) will also probably just puzzle people in the next generation, and the fact that he doesn’t return for a closing segment makes it all the more pointless.
To try to class it up a bit (they fail), Rutger Hauer pops up from time to time as a cop who is trying to put the pieces together. Besides resembling Stephen McHattie whenever he dons his black hat, Hauer does his brief post-Batman Begins career resurgence no favors here, looking bored out of his mind and appearing in scenes that could easily be cut from the film without any consequence. The only other actor I recognized is Wil Horneff, from Ghost in the Machine and also The Roost, but sadly unlike that latter film he did not bring his super hot sister along for the ride.
In fact, I can say this about the cast - it’s a nicely diverse crowd. The film is considered an “urban” horror film, but there are African Americans, whites, Latinos, Asians... it’s a good mix. And the one good thing about not bothering to really characterize any of them beyond their stereotypes, and having so many goddamn people, is that it was a bit hard to guess who would die first/last/everything in between. Had I actually CARED, a lot of the other problems of the movie wouldn’t have been so damaging.
The sound mix is also nice at times. I particularly liked when the movie briefly went into Wrong Turn/TCM territory (much like Somebody Help Me, it seems that no one involved could decide on a specific sub-genre to rip off) with the characters going into a disgusting out of the way place, as the sound of flies kept buzzing around all of the speakers (an effect that worked even better on headphones - I actually swatted at my ear). The soundtrack was also as diverse as its cast, which was nice - there was rock, rap, some actually decent score, dance... I began to wish I had just LISTENED to the movie, but then I remembered all of the horrible goddamn dialogue, with even the fat nerdy white kid saying “Aiiight”.
There was one good dialogue exchange though. A girl and a guy are about to get it on, and she gives him a condom. Because he is the male lead in a shitty horror movie that is trying desperately to be funny on occasion, he immediately protests that he needs magnum sized. She tells him to figure it out. He asks “How about I just put the head in?”, to which she replies “How about you just put your TONGUE in?”. Hahahaha. I’m going to use that next time - wait, fuck. Well, anyway, it was a good line.
As for the kills, eh. A few decapitations are always welcome, and I liked the fact that no one survived, but without any suspense or buildup to the kills, it just got tiresome. And the two killer twist (spoiler, but again, they REALLY love Scream) meant an ending filled with too many explanations and flashbacks and not enough chasing - it seems the last 10 minutes of the film takes place in a single room, instead of taking advantage of having two killers in a very big and now very empty house.
The DVD has a making of. My screener does not. I am happy to have it on screener.
What say you?