FEBRUARY 19, 2012
I can’t imagine how the folks who defended the original Warlock (of which I was not a fan) felt about Warlock III: The End Of Innocence (what?), which makes the original look like the Citizen Kane of horror movies in comparison. After a while I spent most of my time watching this thing wondering what was more offensive: its total lack of concern for the two films that came before it, or the fact that it was so unforgivably dull.
It’s also poorly cast, which is a shame when you consider that Bruce Payne or Ashley Laurence in a horror film should be a good thing, and thus together should be nothing short of a home run. While Payne is a decent physical match for Julian Sands, he plays the character in a very different way, coming across more like an aristocratic vampire or something, biding his time while chatting up his would-be victims instead of using his damn powers to kill them all and accomplish whatever it is he seeks in this movie (I couldn’t detect a motive beyond “he wants the house they’re in”). There is no attempt to explain his resurrection from the basement of an old house when he was killed in the middle of the forest (in another country!) in the last film, and it’s almost amusing how far he’s fallen with regards to his master plan; in the first film he wanted to rule the world, now he just wants some real estate? Maybe he realized that he was thinking too big and had to take baby steps if he ever wanted to be a successful villain.
Even if you ignore that, it’s just dull as dirt. Warlock once again fucks with people to get what he wants, but he does so in an incredibly inert (and visually tedious) way. Like one guy is afraid he’ll end up like his father… so Warlock makes him look like his father, meaning he ages rapidly, via some lousy makeup effects. Another guy cares about his music, so Warlock turns him deaf. I mean, seriously? This is what you’re offering? A guy going deaf? How did anyone think this was an interesting or scary idea for a sequel in an FX friendly franchise?
At least his demeanor matches his laughably boring plans, as he goes about this non-quest as nonchalantly as I’ve ever seen a villain perform. At one point he even brings one of the guys a sandwich, which is almost charming in a really stupid way. Even in the climax he’s barely even trying; his plans to sacrifice Laurence are undone when she is able to easily undo the knot he tied around her wrist. So he’s an all-powerful warlock, but he can’t double knot a rope. Fine.
Plus, like most low budget horror films of the 90s, it’s blandly shot and drastically overlit, with even the “scary” scenes looking like daytime soap operas. The techno music redefines “ill-fitting”, and there isn’t a single moment in the film that one might consider “eye-popping” or even “visually interesting”, unless you count the terrible CGI effect that blesses the movie’s one cool kill, when he shatters a girl that he turned into glass. Hell, they can’t even get the damn house right – once they get there they never leave, but by the end I still couldn’t tell you the layout, and there’s not much to look at inside either. I suspect the production company found an old estate that had been cleared out and was for sale in a slow market, and convinced the owners to let them shoot their shitty Warlock sequel there on the cheap.
At least it killed this thoroughly unmemorable franchise for good, though I’m sure someone is trying to reboot the damn thing. My advice? Cast Paul Rudd as the Warlock and let him do whatever the hell he wants. He’s got experience with runes and Druids and such, so it’s not too far from his comfort zone.
What say you?