Anna's Eve (2004)

JANUARY 14, 2012


Weird connection - some of the folks who worked on Anna's Eve were also involved with the 2002 movie Love And A Bullet, and select crew from that went on to make April Fools, the abysmal slasher movie. Perhaps I should seek out Love And A Bullet to see if I can understand the mystery of how the people who made it went on to make separate but equally amateurish horror films that seem like no one involved understood how horror WORKS.

But whereas April Fools had some lovingly stupid moments (and who can forget "People call me POOP"?) and had the good sense to come in at 72 minutes, this overlong (95 minutes) bore is free of anything that can be considered amusing. At no point do the actors seem to realize that the movie they are acting out is pretty pointless and dull and thus maybe they should try to spice it up a bit by over-acting. It's almost kind of remarkable in a way; the back-story involves a social work case gone horribly wrong, and Grayce Wey's script (in which she stars as the main character) manages to make the ghost/murder scenes just as uninteresting as the ones involving writing up follow up reports about certain child welfare cases.

And director Kantz (that's the whole name) is no help, botching the few scare scenes that are actually on-screen. Most just occur entirely in our imagination; at one point a character seemingly runs to safety only for some dialogue in the next scene to inform us that she was actually killed. A good director would at least show the ghost running after her or popping up in their path, which would be a "good enough" choice if they weren't able/willing to actually SHOW the kill, but Kantz doesn't roll that way, I guess. This also leads to plain ol' confusion at times, particularly in the opening sequence. The movie starts awkwardly anyway; I thought the DVD had somehow skipped the first chapter as it seemingly starts mid-scene, but then the main character goes into a house and sees... SOMETHING, which causes her to scream as we cut to the main titles. Then it's "eight months later" and she's now addicted to pills and driving a different car, so whatever she saw was pretty important - why the hell didn't they SHOW it then? Again, we just hear it through dialogue, as if Kantz had come from the radio drama world and hadn't gotten used to the idea of working in a visual medium yet.

Now, off-screen kills can be fine if they serve a more interesting or twisty story, but this one is just the usual "ghost seeks revenge for her death/improper burial" thing that you've seen in a million Asian horror flicks, and we even get a scare ripped off directly from Ju-On for good measure. Plus their attempts at twists just render the story incoherent - the "bad guy" is not actually the killer, and his actions/character motivations are constantly at odds with one another (without spoiling too much - though I don't know why I'd bother - he sure has a weird way of showing how devoted he is to the woman he loves). Worse, the ghost doesn't even seem to distinguish between who killed her and who is just kind of a jerk; it's almost like she SIDES with her killer because somehow deep down she knows the other guy is really to blame. It'd be like if the Poltergeist ghost confronted the Freelings and was like "Look, I know you didn't know that you built the home over my grave, so just give me the address of your boss and I'll go haunt him instead." In short, a rational ghost is not a scary one (and my example isn't even as stupid as what happens here).

It's also a shockingly ugly film. Kantz likes to shoot everything in master shots or soap opera-esque closeups, sucking all of the energy out of what could be exciting scenes. And I'll ignore the fact that it's shot with non-top of the line high def, but not their attempts to filter obvious day for night shots by seemingly drenching the image in Smurf blood. But I guess at least they were TRYING to color correct that stuff; other scenes go by with one side of a conversation drenched in orange sunlight and the other just regular daytime, slightly bluish tones. The productions attempts at matching locations are also abysmal - at one point they cause confusion by using the heroine's hallway for someone else's home as if we wouldn't notice that the layout is exactly the same as long as they threw up a beaded curtain to "distinguish" it. Nope. Maybe it'll fool a child, but a kid would have turned the thing off long before this particular shot, having been bored to tears with the repetitive plotting and lackluster ghost scenes.

You'd never know the movie was a mess from the commentary by Kantz, Wey, and Lemar Knight who plays the film's "comic relief" character of a local crackhead (indeed, he IS the only amusing thing about the movie, but his character is awkwardly introduced and is there only to provide crucial info - I wondered if he was a ghost himself since he just showed up at important moments to help move the plot forward). Apparently the script was written in a week (what took THAT long?), they were frequently shooting without permits, etc. Kantz only second guesses ONE of his many botched scare scenes (one that wasn't even that bad, really), and Wey explains some of the movie's confusing plot points )mostly revolving around the ever-present teddy bear), but does so in a way that makes it sound like we're dumb for not understanding it, not that her week's worth of writing may not have been enough to produce a good script. To be fair they claim that 30-40 minutes were cut (and IMDb lists a runtime of 110 minutes) so maybe these things would have worked before, but they're sitting there watching their independently produced movie - if there was anything important missing they probably would have mentioned it. I do like the bit where they laugh at a health-conscious actor's work with a bag of Cheetos though - he spends the scene trying as hard as he can not to actually eat any. So for about 70 seconds I was finally entertained by Anna's Eve. Thanks guys!

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