Closets (2010)

MAY 27, 2012

GENRE: GHOST
SOURCE: DVD (OWN COLLECTION)

This weekend I was dismayed to discover that most of the films I hadn’t seen yet on my various Echo Bridge multi-packs (anywhere from 4 to 8 films) weren’t even horror, so they are wholly useless to me – I can’t even get anything for them for tradein at the used DVD store I frequent! Sorry, HMAD screening attendees, you’ll be “winning” a copy of Closets very soon, because the other stuff on the disc doesn’t quite meet HMAD requirements.

Then again the IMDb lists this one simply as a “thriller”, but it’s clearly horror, being that it’s about a vengeful ghost that kidnaps a kid in order to lure other victims to its realm (shades of Insidious, though it was produced before), and even has a couple of bloody murders for good measure. So maybe I should look into the others more carefully; pity the man who trusts the IMDb for any reason. The only reason I looked there is because these films are obscure and thus it’s hard to find out much about any of them without actually sitting down to watch – this movie doesn’t have a single user OR external review listed, for example.

Anyway, it’s surprisingly almost pretty good. The low production value, miscast actors (if you suspect the lead role is played by the film’s producer, you’d be correct!), and horrendous FX kill any chance of it being something I’d actually recommend, but I’ve seen enough of this sort of thing to recognize that they were at least on the right track. The redemption story is interesting, and there’s a twist at the end that I actually didn’t see coming – always something worth lauding, especially after so many of these damn things. With a real actor in the lead (Corbin Bernsen is on hand for a bit role – he would have been a far better fit) and more time/money, this could be a pretty decent flick.

However, the story is a lot like Insidious, and director Charles Peterson is no James Wan. The few attempts at scares are botched, and even though the ghost has a fairly creepy presence, he fails to make it as memorable as Insidious’ old lady or lipstick demons. There’s a cool bit inside a garage where it rips a dude’s ears off, but otherwise it just appears in that tired, J-horror “stuttering” way, and obnoxiously speaking only in rhyme. I don’t know why horror filmmakers think rhymes are inherently scary, but I never found them to be. You know what’s scary? A ghost who can appear out of thin air and kill the shit out of you. Saying something like “Come into the light, so that day is night”? Not so much.

And again, the actors. The lead looks like a Paul Sorvino stunt double, and his attempts at dry sarcasm just sound forced and awkward. But none of his line deliveries are nearly as awful as the image of him sucking on his wife’s face early on (before – spoiler – the ghost kills her and his kid, leading him to become a paranormal investigator), a visual that may induce temporary impotence. The attempts at banter between the folks on his team are also pretty cringe-worthy; his nerdy right hand man’s attempt at scoring a date with the new girl come off as borderline rapey when it’s supposed to be cute.

Final note – free tip for future projects: don’t start your movie off with the worst composite shot ever committed (the correspondent’s backgrounds on The Daily Show look more realistic and those are SUPPOSED to look fake), followed by a title that says “12:05 AM, 19 years ago”. You can’t go from something that specific to something that vague! This starts a chain of laughable titles where we then flash forward 5 years, then 7, then, as the title says “Another 7 years later – the present”. If you have this much backstory, perhaps dole it out in flashbacks throughout the film so we’re not being barraged with exposition before we even know who anyone is or what they are doing.

And hire better actors!

What say you?

3 comments:

  1. This film was made in Arizona. A good friend of mine was the special make-up effects man on the movie. The reason the ghost wears a mask for most of the movie is because he couldn't be there everyday for shooting, plus he didn't receive much money for supplies.

    You mentioned the ears being ripped off in one scene. My buddy actually sculpted realistic ears, but the director never shot any close-ups so his work went to waste.

    The reason for Corbin Bernsen's appearance is solely so the producer could have a named actor in the movie. When Corbin got off the plane and shook the hand of the producer who also introduced himself as the lead actor, Bernsen said he immediately knew exactly what kind of production he was getting into and wished he could just have turned around and got right back on the plane.

    The actress playing the ghost also ended up as no friend to the producer. He refused to put her name in the credits. Basically, she was told she wasn't important. I don't know if the DVD you have lists her or not. Hopefully, the problem was rectified, but I doubt it.

    The composite shots at the beginning are horrendous. Originally, they had location shots, but for some reason they were scrapped and everything was filmed in front of a green screen instead.

    Closets was first screened at the International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival in Tempe, AZ. They was a cast and crew Q&A afterwords. My friend, the special make-up effects man, managed to hide in the crowd for half of it before he was finally dragged onto stage.

    Even though no one seemed to get along with the producer in general, my friend (Cory), enjoyed the work and was happy to earn a credit in a movie with Corbin Bernsen in it.


    Well, I've been long-winded so I'll bid you adieu. Just wanted to part a little extra info on the movie. Hoped you enjoyed it.

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  2. Hahah this is fascinating! I always feel a bit presumptuous when I roll my eyes seeing the producer as the lead actor, but... some stereotypes exist for a reason, you know? Thanks for the info.

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  3. I am the screenwriter for CLOSETS and I agree with a lot of what's been said here, but I'd like to clarify a few things. I worked hard with Lanny the producer and star of the film to make the best possible movie we could for the budget. I never made it out to Arizona during filming so I don't know how things went on the set. I do know that Corbin Bernsen (whatever his personal feelings) is a great supporter of independent film making and it was a treat to be able to get someone of his calibre to appear in the film. Had it been up to me, I would have placed Mr. Bernsen in the lead because of his talent and experience. My understanding is he was supposed to take an even smaller role but liked the script enough to ask for a larger part without asking for more money. This makes him a hell of a guy in my book. This was my first feature. I had to make changes to my original script (some I wish I didn't have to make). The more I've seen it, the more I don't like the rhyming, and I was never a fan of the opening sequence the way it was shot. I would have used actual locations unless I was going for some kind of dreamlike sequence. My original opening was better but it had to be changed for the film to get made. When you're starting out you have to make concessions. I made those concessions even if I didn't agree with all of them. Still, over all, for my first film, I thought this was a pretty good movie. I like the scares and chills. I like the actors. I like the production values (those are some really beautiful houses). I hope more people will see this movie and not judge it for what it lacks, but see it for what it is. A good little chiller for a Saturday night. Something you can watch with your friends and have a good time. Now, if you want to see another bit of my work, seek out YOU CAN'T KILL STEPHEN KING. I was co-writer on that one doing the King research, setting up the mystery and some of the scares and working closely with the other two writers (Ronnie Khalil and Monroe Mann) who did a ton of the comedy and the back stories. This one is really funny and suspenseful and it works even though, once again, the producers are the stars. It's currently at film festivals but we're hoping for a distribution deal very soon.

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