DECEMBER 23, 2011
You're lucky it's Christmas, Savage Island, and thus I am in a giving mood, because you fully belong in the Crap genre. A failure on nearly every level, there is absolutely nothing in the movie worth defending, other than the fact that (spoiler) it's fairly grim, something I also admired about director Jeffrey Lando's Goblin, which also had the benefit of being watchable.
This, on the other hand, is exactly the sort of movie that makes me almost excited about the fact that I'm calling it a day in 2013, because that means I'll never have to suffer through this sort of crap again. If it wasn't so late by the time I started it, I might have just watched something else, because I could tell right away that it was going to be rough, thanks to a couple that is introduced yelling at each other. Not that this sort of scenario can't work, but it takes certain factors to be successful. Vacancy comes to mind - they were at each others' throats too, but we have a familiarity with the two actors, both of whom are very likable as well. Here, I don't know who these folks are, so when they start giving each other a hard time moments after the first time we've laid eyes on them, what incentive do I have to care about their story?
Worse, it's ugly as sin, as Lando apparently shot the thing with his iPhone (I wonder how many takes were ruined by an incoming call). The daytime stuff doesn't look TOO bad - unprofessional and bearing many of the flaws of digital video, but nothing that would seem out of place on the Decrepit Crypt set. It's the nighttime stuff that truly assaults the eyeballs, as the low grade video combined with what looks like a strict "no light" policy results in some of the ugliest footage ever, often resembling surveillance footage than an actual film. The grain is thick enough to choke a horse, it becomes quite difficult to tell who is who in the shots, and the color all but completely drops out. There are also a number of left to right wipes, none of which are implemented properly - one in particular looks "backwards" as the characters are moving in the opposite direction. Perhaps this was supposed to make us uneasy or whatever, but it doesn't work like that - it just looks like a sloppy movie.
It also feels endless; not a huge problem for a 3 hour movie, but a mighty large one for a "film" that clocks in under the 90 minute mark. The plot of the movie is basically about a family of redneck hicks seeking revenge for the accidental death of their youngest member, and the sides are evenly matched more or less (might be one or tow more rednecks), but 3 of the good guys are taken out rather quickly. So the movie just becomes a repetitive chore as our rednecks terrorize one of our heroes while the other makes largely unsuccessful rescue attempts. There's a surprisingly dark outcome for one of them, and it happens earlier than one would expect that character's exit, but in an 85 minute movie, there should be more than one moment that sticks out.
The only other thing of note about it is that it features familiar (and unfortunately late) character actor Don S. Davis, best known for Stargate SG-1. Granted, he was never the kind of guy who might end up on the cover of a magazine, but he's well known enough to warrant a "What the hell is he doing in this piece of shit?" reaction when he first appeared. I can only assume he was friends with someone on the production and was doing them a favor. Unsurprisingly, he's the only character I liked at all, though his laid back, friendly demeanor in the first act (there's a wood-cutting scene that borders on Norman Rockwell levels of old style charm) instantly disappears the second there's a sign of trouble. Not that it would "save" the movie or anything, but I would have liked it if he wasn't so instantly pro-active - dude grabs a gun as soon as the first redneck arrives on his property!
The film's ending seems to be setting up a sequel; thankfully as of this writing no such thing exists. But if there are plans - you have about 16 months to make it and put it on DVD, or else the only possible audience for the movie (me) will have "retired", and thus won't have any reason to continue following the saga of the Savage family (yes, that's their name - the title is a play on words!).
What say you?