AUGUST 3, 2010
Does anyone know what movies played in the Chicago Horror Film Festival in 2005? Because supposedly, Resurrection Mary was better than all of them, winning the Audience choice and Best Feature awards. Now, I don’t doubt that some folks like the movie, but if this was a horror film festival, why would an audience (presumably filled with big horror fans) vote this as the best, when there’s hardly any horror in it? I can only assume the other movies were even worse (my brief research turned up one other entry – The Hunt – so my theory is sound). I’m guessing The Descent or Hatchet (common 2006 festival films) weren’t in the lineup.
The urban legend of Mary has been covered in other stuff, including other movies with the same title, the pilot episode of Supernatural, and the obligatory segment on Unsolved Mysteries, so I can’t blame writer/director Michael Lansu for trying to make something a little more character/story based, instead of using the legend for a nonstop series of kills and jump scares. I can, however, blame him for hiring unappealing actors, writing a dull script, and ending the film on an undeserved happy note.
See, the whole plot kicks off with a guy named Shawn suddenly becoming hell-bent on cheating on his fiancé at a wedding, to the extent that he’s punching and kicking a bathroom stall door in order to get at his would-be usurper inside. Real charmer, this guy. So I dislike the “hero”, and this is BEFORE I spend most of the remaining 90 minutes suffering through him moping around, trying to “solve” a mystery that Joe Estevez (what the hell he is doing in this otherwise backyard production, I have no idea) explains in full – albeit in Estevezian crazy speak – at the halfway point, and ultimately trying to kill himself. Look, I appreciate the gesture, sir, but how about you just DO SOMETHING so we can all go home?
The girl he was trying so valiantly to bed in a bathroom stall is, of course, Mary, and she’s just as ineffective a villain as Shawn is a hero. For one thing, she apparently has a beef with Estevez, but decides to kill him NOW, decades after their encounter. Nice of her to leave him around to give exposition, I guess. And she pops up every now and then, usually in a completely unscary manner, but doesn’t really DO anything. I think the body count of this movie is two, despite a credit list that runs about 3 minutes at the end. I think it should be a rule that we get one death for every five speaking roles in your R rated horror movie. Luckily, one is Estevez, so that’s always a plus, but the other is just some random character we barely know. Hell, there’s even a scene where Shawn and his buddies go to the graveyard, but they survive! The whole point of a hero bringing a buddy to a cemetery in a horror movie is for the buddy to get killed (see: Jason Lives), so for both of them to get out alive is just inexcusable. What are we supposed to be scared of, exactly?
Also, a crucial scene in the story (one of... two) is botched by the hilariously bad compositing that’s supposed to make it look like the characters are driving fast on a dark road, and not at all like they are in front of a green screen in the director’s garage. In addition to the laughably mismatched color balance, the scale is all off – the background seems too small for the foreground image, so our characters look giant. But whoever designed the DVD apparently liked it – most of the menu loop is made out of shots from this sequence (way to make the viewer sigh in exasperation before the movie has actually started). Look, if you can’t afford a rig to really film a car as it drives (or is pulled), or a good post production team that can properly match backgrounds to your primary footage – just film from the back seat! It worked for Halloween (the whole “Ben Tramer” discussion); it can certainly work for you fine folks.
Speaking of the DVD – who the hell designed this thing? After an FBI warning that could actually cause blindness from being so damn bright, we get the very slow menu, and neither can be bypassed in order to get on with the movie. And then the film itself is coded in such a way that most players won’t be able to display either the time passed or time remaining. That’s not a problem for an interesting and/or exciting movie, but when it’s on a movie this uneventful and repetitive, it’s like being trapped in a moebius strip – I couldn’t tell how long it had been since I started; I did not know when (if?) it would end.
There was one bit I liked. Our hero decides to get all of the photos of the wedding developed, and starts going through them all, aided by the guy who works at the photo store. But for some reason, he keeps tossing the ones he has already looked at on the floor, and the little nerd who works there keeps getting mad and then picking them up. It goes on for a while, and it’s the only intentionally funny part of the movie (that I could detect), so it’s a wonderfully odd and slightly mean-spirited diversion. I also enjoyed pondering whether or not the Dr. Piccolo listed as an executive producer was the same person as the obviously non-actor playing a doctor (himself?) in certain scenes. The end credits were too long and messy for me to figure it out (seriously dude, learn how to center your names at least, especially if you're not even going to bother changing the default Final Cut Pro font), however. I’m sure I’ll get over it within the next 3 or 4 minutes.
What say you?
P.S. Has anyone seen any of the other Resurrection Marys? Any of them any good?