DECEMBER 19, 2011
Today I flew back from Boston, where all my loved ones, friends, and most importantly, wall to wall Dunkin Donuts locations are located. I came home to an overflowing litter box, a jam-packed mailbox, and assorted other evidence that my house sitter wasn’t exactly on her A-game. I also had to pay an extra day rate for parking at LAX, as my plane landed late and then it took the usual forever to get my checked luggage, something I realized as I sat in traffic on the way home. Thus, even though Killing Katie Malone was pretty lousy, it was hardly the most obnoxious part of my day.
In fact it’s only a few jaw-droppingly stupid moments shy of a Wicker Man-style “OMG WHAT THE FUCK WERE THEY THINKING?” type movie, albeit on a much smaller scale and with a guy that actually played Superman (Dean Cain) instead of the one who was inexplicably once up for it (that would be Nic Cage). Actually Cain barely appears; despite the fact that his name is above the title on the poster, his screentime amounts to less than 5 minutes. If some no-name actor was playing the role, he probably wouldn’t even have been listed until the end credit roll.
No, the bulk of the film concerns a trio of overly close friends (two male, one female) who decide to pitch in and buy a ghost on an eBay type site. And while this plot should be accompanying a Three Stooges short or maybe the next Dorm Daze sequel, it’s actually played fairly straight. Weirder, the guy who is so gung ho about it doesn’t seem to think that ghosts are real, even when crazy shit starts happening the second the box arrives. Someone will say “it must be that ghost you bought!” and he will scoff at the notion, as if the timing was just coincidence because ghosts aren’t real. I mean, a little skepticism on the part of the OTHER characters would be OK, but you’re the one who bought the fucking thing! If you’re so dismissive of the paranormal, why did you piss away forty dollars on a “fake” ghost? Go down to the 7-11 and buy 40 dollars’ worth of lotto tickets if you want to spend money on nothing!
Things get even sillier in the 3rd act when the hero and the girl of the group, who are more like brother and sister, decide to finally go on a date and then jump each other’s bones later on. Again, what is wrong with this idiot? Throughout the movie, anyone who has done him wrong (or his friends, by extension) has ended up dead, so NOW he decides to risk losing one of his best friends? Anyone with the ability to think would realize that this sort of thing probably wouldn’t work out, and then as a result the ghost would “defend” him by going after the girl. Nice job, asshole.
But the movie saves its stupidest bit for the climax (spoilers!). Rather than have Cain finally take an active role in the movie (he was the ghost’s previous owner) or have the kids find some ancient spell or whatever, it boils down to… selling the ghost on the auction site. If it was merely the final scene, it could work, sort of like The Ring where it ends up the kid making a copy to pass on to some poor schmuck when they realized that the curse hadn’t been lifted, but no. As the ghost terrorizes the other two, our hero stares at his auction webpage, saying COME ON! as it counts down to the end of the auction (what, no “Buy It Now!” option?). Then, the cherry – the girl buying it says “My card was declined!” and has to find another, which is this movie’s version of making matters worse for the heroes. It’s easily the most inane climax to a horror movie since Pulse’s ridiculous “Let’s drive until we don’t have a cell signal anymore” race.
And again – all of this is played totally straight. It’s also seemingly aimed at teens, as there are subplots about cheating on tests and getting paint all over borrowed clothes. And the “first date” scene lasts longer than any of the horror sequences, which makes the thing feel like an ABC family “horror” movie at times. Yet, the deaths are surprisingly harsh – one girl is slammed around into walls before being torn apart! The ghost actually loves doing that – poor Cain has to throw himself around, Bruce Campbell style, in one of his three scenes, and you can almost see him thinking “Why the hell didn’t I ever turn my leading role on a hit series into something slightly more respectable?”.
Because the plotting was so silly, I guess it’s pointless to ask WHY the ghost is so vicious, or even angry at random folks. Late in the movie we hear her back-story, and it’s kind of tragic, but it doesn’t really correlate with the overly violent ghost that will murder a woman just because she threatened to fail one of her owner’s friends in her Shakespeare class. Hell I don’t even really know what it is the girl who got torn apart did to deserve death in the first place, she seemed pretty nice to our hero. Seems someone that crazy would just kill anyone, instead of being so selective.
Oh well. I’ll give the movie a few points for novelty – I’m 2000+ movies into this thing and this is the first that revolves around buying a ghost – but it’s otherwise too generic (and poorly directed – there’s no energy whatsoever to ANY of the horror scenes,) and stupid to make it worth a look, and sadly not idiotic enough to get drunk and watch with friends, as there are far better selections for that sort of thing. Unless you’re an alcoholic tween, then I guess it might be a good late night option.
What say you?