OCTOBER 20, 2011
First off, congrats to the Enter Nowhere team – it has been picked up by Lionsgate, making it one of the few Screamfest entries that have firm distribution plans for the US (or at least, that we know of). Secondly – please don’t try to market this as a horror movie. While there’s some tension and a minor somewhat supernatural twist, it really falls closer to science fiction/Twilight Zone-y territory; I just have this fear of a trailer showing people in the woods running and screaming (our hero even brandishes an ax at one point, cut the right way into a trailer and it’s a shot from a slasher!), and then as a result people rent/buy it expecting Wrong Turn 5 and get angry that it’s a blood free “What if?” tale of sorts.
Of course I can’t explain in detail why I feel this way, since the movie’s not out yet and won’t be for a while (if they just picked it up it’ll be several months at least), and even with HMAD’s loose policy on spoilers that wouldn’t be fair or helpful to anyone. So I’ll just stick with the first act, even though ironically that’s the stuff that feels the most like a horror movie.
Basically we have a survival tale of sorts, as three folks end up in this tiny shack in the woods during a particularly cold winter. One had a car crash, another ran out of gas, and the third… well we’re not sure how she ended up there. There’s no food, very little water, and seemingly no way of contacting the outside world. Worse, it appears they are not alone, as gunshots can be heard every now and then. How everyone got there and what their life was like prior to this predicament provides the bulk of the film’s second act, and I will stop there, only to say my initial guess as to what was happening was not only wrong, but far less interesting.
What works about the film is that it totally commits to its potentially silly idea. No one questions it or tries to get ahead of the audience by pointing out a possible plot hole, something that only works in a movie like End Of Days where taking it serious would be detrimental (hence lines like “Midnight? Is that Eastern time?”). You either go with it or you don’t, and as I’ve said a million times, I will always go with a kooky idea as long as I never get the feeling that the director is laughing at us. And any movie that uses Pac-Man as an example to explain part of its plot is automatically worth some respect (though the second callback to it was a bit unnecessary/laughable).
Also, it’s not a particularly action-packed movie (we don’t even see the various automobile issues that got them there), but that just means we spend more time with our characters and learning to like them as they bond, which makes investing into their plight during the hectic third act a much easier task. Sara Paxton’s character is abrasive at first, but quickly drops her guard and becomes close with Katherine Waterston (a very warm presence), who instantly bonded with Scott Eastwood as Tom, who is the most proactive of the group and does his dad proud – he’s got a nice Chris Evans-esque thing going on (or perhaps a Sam Worthington with some actual charisma).
It also has one of the best Halloween references I’ve ever heard in a movie, and it ties into a very clever aspect of the script that makes you rethink certain things about the characters. When all of the answers are in place, what seemed like a character’s quirky character tic actually has a far more “normal” explanation, and it would be fun to go back and watch the movie again knowing its secrets – something that Lionsgate must appreciate in today’s marketplace. It’s not disposable! You might want to watch it more than once, so buying is a conceivable option!
Looks great, sounds great, etc. Screamfest has come a long way in both its selection and its presentation over the years; I remember seeing movies that seemed to be screened off highly compressed CD-Rs a few years back, not to mention amateur productions that made me wonder if the filmmakers were aware of how to turn on a light, but that is not the case anymore. Just about every feature film I’ve seen this year looked just as good/professional as anything you can find at the multiplex right now, and Enter Nowhere was no exception. Even the CGI near the end (can’t even say WHAT without spoiling, though I guess “an explosion” is vague enough for one of its examples) isn’t too bad, and for once I can’t really fault them for not going with practical, given their nature.
Hopefully once the movie gets released (I assume they will go straight to DVD with it; Paxton is the film’s only name and “the star of Shark Night” isn’t exactly a great marketing hook) some of you folks will come back and leave comments and I can follow up without being so vague. You might even wonder why I bothered; the esteemed Simon Barrett figured out a chunk of the twist rather early, so perhaps I’m just dumb (I thought he was joking, in fact). It’ll be a fun movie to talk about, and that is of course what HMAD was designed for in the first place. And you guys will hopefully not go into it expecting a full blown horror movie, so you might even enjoy it even more!
What say you?