The Telling (2009)

SEPTEMBER 27, 2010


The most interesting thing about The Telling is that none of its three stories have any real twist at the end of them, which is unusual for an anthology. Not that the movie is any better (in fact it’s much worse) than the average modern anthology movie, but at least they were consistent with the characters when it came to the stories being told, as the gimmick was that they were all being told by sorority pledges, who probably wouldn’t be able to concoct Saw-level narratives even when they had time to think, let alone when being put on the spot to tell a story as they are here.

So it’s actually kind of fitting that the stories are simple, pointless, and not very interesting/scary, because they are essentially being made up as the teller goes along. But for all I know that wasn’t even an intention of the writer, and even if it was, it doesn’t make the movie any better.

Another problem is that the wraparound segments start with a typical “outcast girl gets picked on” story that results in the poor girl (who, as I usually find with these things, is better looking than any of the “pretty” ones, but whatever) committing suicide. So we know the end of the movie will result in the girls getting their just desserts, and that pun is intentional because they get poisoned by cookies. Clever. So basically the only mystery is whether or not one of the stories will play into the wraparound (like in Tales From The Hood), and which of the girls is the one who plans to get revenge. Spoiler: it’s the one whose story involves (different) bitchy sorority girls getting killed.

The first story is probably the weakest, despite a setup that could have produced the best one. Basically, a girl and her boyfriend are living together and his out of town ex comes to stay with them while she looks for a place of her own. At the same time, he gets a talking doll, and the girlfriend starts to crack up, thinking that the doll is trying to take her place. OR IS IT REALLY ALIVE? Honestly I didn’t care, because I wanted all three of them to die, since they were so annoying. And the actress playing the girlfriend was woefully bad, which didn’t help.

The 2nd one’s a bit better, because it involved a little midget DP named Foot Candle, which is about the wittiest thing in the entire movie. But it also applied a sort of "Dorian Gray" tale to an actress who was getting past her prime, and was shot/lit like a gothic horror film from the 50s, so it at least looked interesting. And there’s a cool absinthe-tinged nightmare scene that comes out of nowhere, which is always nice. The only real flaw was a pair of 30 Seconds To Mars-esque modern rock songs that played over the big horror scenes. They’re not bad tunes, really, but they were horribly out of place, and totally killed the mood. It’d be like putting a My Chemical Romance song in the middle of The Wolfman or something.

The 3rd one is OK, mainly because it’s hilariously anticlimactic. It’s the old “prank call turns deadly” story, and our girls are visited by both a creepy cable guy and a cop who arrived alone and rather quickly. Guess which one’s the killer! Um... neither of them. I have no idea who he is. One of the girls kills the cop (thinking he’s the bad guy), and the cable guy is tied up, and then the real killer shows up out of nowhere and kills the last girl. What a twist? But again, it fits the idea of someone making something up as she goes along. Also, one of the girls is killed by getting a coaxial cable wrapped around her throat, which I believe is the first for a horror movie. As much as I hate them getting tangled (and getting eaten by my cat), I have an odd affection toward AV cables, so this delighted me. One of my dream Halloween costumes is “A/V Mummy”, where I’d wrap myself in cables of every sort (I have a big foot locker full of them), but I suspect it would be damn near impossible to move.

The main girl in the wraparounds is Holly Madison, the Girls Next Door star who was Hugh Hefner’s girlfriend (Hef is thanked at the end). Ew. As with most reality show stars, she can’t act worth a shit, so thankfully her role is limited to sitting around and being a bitch. Wikipedia also tells me that the wraparounds were directed by Jeff Burr, though IMDb says otherwise. Hopefully they are right; Jeff deserves a hell of a lot better than this (he has used pseudonyms in the past so I can’t be sure if it’s just wiki nonsense), though I guess I can’t blame him (or anyone) for signing on to direct a bunch of attractive bimbos looking to further their acting career. There’s only like 3 dudes in this entire movie.

Well, whatever. The movie probably exists only to provide Girls Next Door fans with something to watch in between seasons, and those folks were probably entertained. Who cares what I think with such things?

What say you?


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