FEBRUARY 15, 2011
It’s kind of a bummer that horror movies *have* to take place at night, and also that the heart of the genre lies within independent films, which are now all shot with digital cameras that produce less than flattering images in the dark. At its core, Trespassers (aka Blood Waves) is actually a pretty cool movie, but the lo-res and underexposed images just turn the entire 3rd act into an incoherent blur of pixels and artifacting errors. In fact, even the daylight stuff looks pretty bad at times, which makes me wonder just who the hell chose this camera and/or who was in charge of transferring it.
Ironically, this problem is made worse by the film’s biggest asset – it’s inspired by 70s horror fare like Hills Have Eyes, in that it doesn’t really kick into high gear until that third act. So the first hour, which is largely visible, is mostly just folks walking around looking for the other folks who wandered off earlier, or talking to locals, and generally not getting killed. And that's fine - I like slow builds and I dug the throwback approach. Problem is, once they get to the goods, the film's already questionable presentation just gets worse.
But there's a lot of sexual frustration to enjoy! One dude legitimately runs away from the others so he can jerk off. Also, the two female characters, played by uber-hot Michelle Borth and Hatchet’s Joleigh Fioravanti (though she uses the name Pulsonetti here, for whatever reason) are fighting over one guy who seemingly doesn't seem to care which one he ends up banging. There's also a gay dude, who was my favorite character because he stayed out of their shenanigans and was also the most intelligent of the group. Joleigh hits on him too, but then returns her attention to the hero guy, at one point even offering to “suck your cock all the way back to LA”, which sounds exhausting for both parties.
And thus, of course, Borth’s character is a prude, not even letting him put lotion on her backside (but getting angry when Joleigh encourages him to do the same for her), and then getting angry at the two of them and taking off with the other guy to go look for help. But she makes up for it in the most random way possible; igniting a sex scene after they’ve been chased into a little cave by the cannibal zombie things. Of course, it’s so dark you can’t see a goddamn thing, but it’s the thought that counts I guess (also, they are interrupted before he can finish, so the poor sod has to fend off zombies and run around and such with blue balls).
The back-story is also a bit more novel than I am used to/was expecting) Rather than the usual “look if you go to a foreign country you’re just going to end up being killed” xenophobic approach, the cannibals are actually former or recruited members of a cult that was in love with the land and thus decided to live off of it. But when food ran scarce (possibly because they set up their HQ on a friggin’ beach – try a farm, assholes), the leader decided to start feeding them little kids without telling them what the “meat” was. Things got ugly, folks died, and now they attack anyone who comes around that is disrespectful of the land (i.e. by dirt biking around on it, or littering, etc). Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but I like that it was almost sort of noble – they kill only to eat and to keep douchey surfers from trashing the place. Can’t really go fault them on that one.
Also, I liked that it took place on the beach, which is surprisingly rare for horror movies. I racked my brain while watching, and honestly couldn’t think of another horror film set entirely on the coast and in various sand dunes and such near the water. Most of the time, it’s stuff like Jaws or Piranha, where there will be a few scenes on the beach and then they get out on the water or lake, but here they stayed on dry land for pretty much the whole movie.
I just wish I could have SEEN it! I mean, I can cut it some slack because I’m sure Netflix’s stream didn’t help, but I can tell the difference between a poor transfer and a poorly made movie. The cameraman’s shadow makes so many appearances it should have been given its own cast credit, and the lighting (when they have it) is obviously a bright spotlight being moved around, getting as much of the actors and background in its beam as possible. It starts to resemble a documentary or episode of Ghost Hunters or something, because there’s a constant light source that has no place in the scene but never lets you stop being aware of it. And then, again, for the 3rd act they didn’t even bother turning it on anymore – you never really get a good look at the monsters, and I could never tell who was winning during most of the fight scenes until someone walked away (thankfully, or perhaps intentionally, the hero wears a light sweatshirt, so he’s easy to spot). The camera itself seemed kind of low-rent too – you know how any movie with a character who has a video camera will switch to his/its point of view, and it’s noticeably different than the footage being used for the actual movie? Yeah, that doesn’t happen here. We switch to his POV and back and I couldn’t even tell the difference.
And I find that odd, because the director had several other (non-horror) films under his belt, plus Borth and Fioravanti were already established actors... why did they have to shoot this thing on what appears to be a Youtube brand camera? Or did someone just fuck up royally in post? Either way, most dark rooms are better lit than this movie, so it wouldn’t have helped the “hey what am I looking at here?” aspect of many of the action scenes. A pity – the script was worthy of a better presentation.
What say you?