FEBRUARY 21, 2012
Lots of filmmakers like to blame their budget for the movie’s lapses, and a lot of time the problems with the movie have nothing to do with bad FX, inappropriate sets, etc. More often than not, the movie sucks because the script was terrible, the direction bland, and other things that can sink a movie with all the money in the world behind it (see, or don’t, Pirates of the Caribbean 4). But if anyone involved with Inkubus claims the low budget is the reason that their movie is underwhelming, I will believe them 100%.
See, it doesn’t lack for cool ideas or fun actors in the key roles; Robert Englund plays the title character, who strolls into a police station with a severed head and claims to be an ancient demon that may have been behind several historical unsolved murders (Black Dahlia, Jack The Ripper, etc). It’s pretty clear that he can’t be restrained and is hanging out in their cell on his own free will – all he wants is to talk to the cop (William Forsythe) who almost killed him 13 years before, and is just amusing himself by staying there, talking to head detective Joey Fatone.
Wait, what? The guy from N’Sync as a cop? Yep, that’s what we get here. Fatone is also listed as one of the film’s several hundred producers; in fact, one just needs to read the credits to get a good idea of how this movie came together. Someone had money, some other guys had some experience making movies, and everyone came together with a master plan to make a cheap horror movie that they could sell for lots of money because they managed to get an icon as their villain. That’s why the rest of the roles are miscast with known actors (Jonathan Silverman as an anonymous uniformed officer is a particularly baffling choice) or played by cousins of the filmmakers, who credit themselves over and over (“Produced by Chad Verdi” appears at least three times in the 80 minute film). Like Exit 33, it’s quite obviously a pretty cynical production.
Unlike Exit 33, however, it’s at least kind of fun. Englund can’t ever phone in a performance, and he’s quite lively here, clearly relishing the rarity of playing a horror villain without several pounds of latex weighing him down. Like his fellow “magic villain” buddy Warlock, he fucks with his victims on a psychological level before killing them (the deaths are gorier than I expected as well), and in these scenes the movie’s other issues don’t seem as big of a deal. Forsythe is a bit bored, and growls pretty much every line, but Englund picks up the slack admirably. And hell, even Fatone isn’t that bad; if you weren’t aware of his boy band past before the movie, you probably wouldn’t suspect it after seeing him here.
However the movie just never stops feeling cheap, which is a constant distraction. It was shot with a consumer grade DSLR camera, and while I’ve certainly seen worse digital images, it never looks like a real movie, either. The movie is also far too bright, like they dropped a maxed out “brightness/contrast” filter over the entire film before exporting to DVD. It’s also a bit too sloppy at times, killing would-be scare scenes. There’s a bit where a guy isn’t sure if he’s talking to Englund or another character, and the editor intercuts between footage of them both saying the same lines, but the main character keeps changing position in between the cuts, which ruins the effect they are trying to achieve. The FX are pretty good for the most part, however, and non-discerning audiences won’t care about that other stuff anyway, so that’s a “win” for them.
There’s also a puzzlingly pointless, strange scene where a cop checks the lotto numbers. They set it up early on, that a bunch of cops pool their money to buy a ticket, and he’s watching it very intently, so it should have a payoff, right? Instead, he just demonstrates a shockingly poor understanding of how the lottery works; he matches all but one number (they rattle off at least 5) and says that it’s the difference between $200,000 and a free ticket. Um, what kind of lottery system would only give a free ticket if you matched 5 of the 6 numbers? I even looked it up; in Rhode Island, even if he only matched four of the six numbers he’d get 200 bucks, regardless of the jackpot. You’d think someone that was so into it would know better. Just a waste of screentime in all aspects.
Another issue is the abrupt climax. The movie is only about 69 minutes long without credits, which is OK if that’s the plan, but this one feels a bit shaved. It’s a flashback movie, with Fatone telling the story from a mental institute – his stories of magic serial killers and demon babies aren’t believed by the shrink, needless to say. These sort of scenarios usually build to something, like Sam Neill finishing his story and then escaping from the now deserted hospital in Carpenter’s In The Mouth Of Madness, but this one just ends with Fatone still ranting about the demons as the shrink is (spoiler!) revealed to be the Inkubus in a blink or miss moment. It feels like there should be another beat to it, instead of just ending like it was the cliffhanger for the pilot episode about a guy trapped in a mental institute run by his arch enemy. It also feels like they actually WANTED to build toward a twist, that Fatone just snapped after his wife died, and then chickened out, using a quick last minute effect to tell us that the shrink is the Inkubus without any other follow through.
The disc offers no insight into the production, or deleted scenes that might explain the condensed running time – our main menu has but two options: Play and Chapters. Not even any audio options; Spanish speaking audiences or the hearing impaired are just as shit out of luck as anyone wondering why this movie makes several attempts to blind its audience with its garish cinematography, or if they were actually trying to rip off the movie The Traveler or if it’s just coincidence, or if these same issues will plague Infected, another horror film en route from many of the same cast and crew. I wish them well.
What say you?