JUNE 14, 2012
I was on the fence for whether or not to dub Rift as Crap, as I’ve mostly retired that scarlet letter out of shame (I overused it in my first year, I now realize). So I have to be really selective to give it its power, and spend time thinking about those other awful movies while wondering “is it AS bad as these?”. I honestly wasn’t sure, but then I went on its IMDb page and saw that all but ONE user review was a fake (all posted the same day), so that sealed the deal. Not that the IMDb is some pristine site that doesn’t deserve to be desecrated with false reviews, but they clearly knew that they made a terrible movie or else they wouldn’t have to go overboard with lies. So I’m basically just agreeing with them.
Featuring one of the most needlessly convoluted structures I’ve seen in some time, the movie ostensibly tells the story of a would-be journalist investigating the deaths of a bunch of young folks a decade earlier. So we have present day scenes of her in procedural/crime thriller mode, and flashbacks to what’s basically a slasher movie as these kids wander around their dorm and get picked off one by one. Fine, but then they add in some cops, full-screen footage of the movies the kids are watching, flashbacks to a hooker engaging in a rape scenario, the ghost (?) of a morgue attendant/necrophiliac… the movie is so padded out with nonsense, I actually had trouble discerning what was the real movie and what was the shit they threw in to make a 90 minute run time. At one point or another it seems I could have added every single sub-genre I have to the list: zombies, possession, psychological…
Hell, I even rewatched a chunk of the film, assuming I had missed the cypher that would tie all of this together. And maybe on the page it DID all make sense, but the movie is so poorly edited and directed (by the same guy who wrote it, Lazrael Lison) that it’s impossible to follow along without taking notes. There are so many go nowhere scenes, such as when the journalist is bothered by her little sister to come along, only to never be seen again. And for the life of me I can’t figure out what is taking the journalist so long – she’s seemingly in this dorm (and a makeshift photo lab) for a MONTH as she pieces together the story of what happened over the course of two nights? Does she go home in between? Why is it taking so long?
It doesn’t help that the acting is uniformly atrocious, with the main blond girl in the 2001 scenes (character’s name is Haili) being particularly terrible. As my wife pointed out, her acting (and indeed, most of the scare scenes) seemed like something you’d see on one of the early episodes of VH-1’s Scream Queens, before they had narrowed it down to the 2-3 people who were decent enough to net bit parts in a Saw sequel. This girl would have been one of the first to go if not for the fact that she was attractive, which would net her a couple episodes’ worth of leeway. The Eric Stoltz-y looking nerd character also drove me up a wall; I couldn’t tell if the character was supposed to be mentally disabled or if the “actor” was just that awkward with his line readings.
Unsurprisingly, the few actors you’ve heard of barely appear. Richmond Arquette and Tom Wright (the hitcher from Creepshow 2!) play the cops, who have a heart to heart about Wright’s lacking sex life before deciding how to get the rest of their donuts to the police station – since the entire movie is in flashback I’d like to know why our fearless journalist thought to include this in her story. And Leslie Easterbrook pops up in the final 10 minutes as the woman with all the “answers”, though her odd dialect (and the disc’s lack of subtitles) made much of her exposition a bit part to follow, so that’s another bone-headed move on their part. But at least these folks have screen presence and know how to deliver a line, so there’s maybe 8 or 9 total minutes of the movie where you can look at the screen and say “Hey all right, someone who knows what the hell they’re doing.”
Hilariously, it even has annoyances and mistakes where they’re not expected. The production companies include “Gjenius” productions, which I HOPE is just an attempt at a joke, and inexplicably has a production logo from the film’s composer, who is the first to be credited (despite a full roster of the crew at the top, the cast isn’t listed until the end). And the ending on-screen text (because, of course, this is “based on true events”) misspells the main character’s name as “Jennifier”. I’m not surprised that this appears to be the first full (and real) review for this thing online – if not for the HMAD “requirement” there’s no way in hell I’d be able to get through it to write one myself.
The disc (which has a grating Our Lady Peace-ian rock song blaring on the menu at a full 20 volume settings louder than the movie) has one extra feature – some context-free deleted scenes that will in no way improve your thoughts on the movie, and thus might have well been put back in the feature to save the DVD designer some time making a sub-menu. So they put more effort into thinking up false claims about the movie (like “This movie will change your life” and “It will be one of the best horror movies of all time”, as well as “This movie has just mad a quantum leap in horror films” – BOLD!) than they did on the DVD that will be the primary source of most of its viewing. Yet another amazing decision from the “Gjeniuses” behind this thing.
What say you?