SEPTEMBER 6, 2011
The original Somebody Help Me was the very first film I was sent specifically for review at Horror Movie A Day, and thus I have kept it despite having no interest in watching it again; sort of like framing the first dollar you ever made or whatever. But maybe I should have given it another look before enduring the sequel, the simply titled Somebody Help Me 2 (I would have gone with “Somebody ELSE Help Me”), which picks up three years later after the events of the first film that I barely remember.
But I do remember that at least a couple of main characters died in that one, which doesn’t seem to happen here. Just about everyone is left alive at the end, or with their fates left vague, with only a few anonymous folks being offed. Even characters who exist seemingly for the sole purpose of being killed at some point, such as the very dim pair of cops who claim that they can’t report a teenaged girl missing until 48 hours have passed (didn’t get the memo about the Amber Alert, I guess). I figured they’d show up to help near the end and get gutted, like most rather anonymous movie cops, but no, they never even show up.
Ultimately, casting issues seem to have caused more casualties than the movie’s killer (same guy from the first one, he apparently survived), as even though our two heroes survived along with their girlfriends, they both have new love interests this time around. While one is clearly a new character, the other I suspect was just hastily rewritten into someone new when the original actress couldn’t/wouldn’t return, as there’s no explanation for where she is or why they broke up, only a quick line that he still thinks about her. I don’t see why they couldn’t just pull a Bewitched (or Hatchet) and recast – are there die-hard Somebody Help Me fans out there who would cry foul at such a thing?
The real problem is that nothing happens in the damn thing. While they have admirably (for lack of a better word) remained focused this time around, sticking with a straight up revenge-seeking killer instead of switching from slasher to survival horror to ghost story as the original did, it’s just not particularly interesting. If the guy’s been alive, where has he been for three years, and why has he decided to return on the exact anniversary? “March 6th” is mentioned more often in this movie than people say “Christmas” in a holiday film, as if it was some memorable date. Are they going for some sort of Friday the 13th motif here or something?
The screenplay is also terrible, with a final twist of sorts that seems designed solely to explain everything we thought was just pointless padding in the previous 80 minutes. For example, early on we see the hero take his buddy’s girl to the doctor to check up on her pregnancy, where we learn all about her miscarriages and watch him take a lengthy nap. Why? Well, because the doctor’s nurse is actually her adopted mother! That’s why we spent 5 minutes watching them read magazines and talk about why she couldn’t tell her boyfriend about it! And as the villain goes on and on explaining their plan, the more the movie began to remind me of I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, which is pretty much the last movie anyone ever wants to be reminded of, ever.
And I guess it’s because of the budget, but it’s a poorly directed film as well. I don’t recall Chris Stokes doing that bad of a job in the original, but this one just FEELS cheap, with nearly the entire movie taking place in two different locations - hero Marques Houston’s house, and the Saw-like dungeon where Corbin (the killer) hangs out. Action scenes frequently contain baffling moments, like when Corbin manages to instantly get up off the floor (they thought he was dead/unconscious) and get around all four heroes to attack them again from behind – hey maybe this IS another ghost movie. And it’s shot 1.78:1 this time, which you don’t even need to remember is a change from the original since they don’t bother to crop down the 2.35:1 clips from the first movie that pop up with some frequency.
He also tosses in a bunch of these annoying yellow flashes throughout the movie, which I didn’t understand at all. Also confusing – why did Corbin wear one of those clear plastic masks in certain scenes? It’s not a whodunit, and he’s unmasked quite often anyway, so why bother having him put it on? At one point he even appears to stop and put it on while a chase scene is already in progress. Who is he trying to conceal his identity from? I also had to laugh at the casting credit, since it appears that Stokes didn’t cast the film so much as he just glanced around the table at a family gathering, with no less than four Stokes in the cast (plus another as a producer).
Well, no one cares, apparently. The movie debuted on BET almost a year ago and there still aren’t any user/external reviews for it on IMDb, and the messageboard has a mere two posts, one of which is a guy saying how this one is so much worse than the original and then asking if Stokes reads the board and if so can he write the next one (apparently two more are planned). But even if we assume that there is actually an audience for these movies, I am baffled how he thinks he can come up with two more stories in this very dull mythology when he could barely fill a feature length film this time (I do like that it was 85 minutes though, the exact length I requested in my review of the overlong original). If you take out the slow credits, flashbacks to the first film, repetitive scenes (a girl tries twice to seduce Houston, and he offers the exact same dialogue in response both times), and edit down overlong chase scenes that result in no one being killed or even seriously hurt, this movie would probably be 45 minutes long. And it would still be dull.
What say you?