JANUARY 14, 2013
This is actually the 2nd movie called Resurrection Mary that I've watched for HMAD, and both are about the same urban legend: a woman (let's call her Mary) on a road, wearing all white and appearing to male drivers. It was also the basis for the first episode of Supernatural, back before the show became bogged down in the war in Heaven and Leviathans and whatever the hell else. This is the superior of the two films, but still not very good - just stick with the SN episode, which gets you out of there in half the time and kicks off five seasons of pretty great genre television (afterward - proceed at your own risk).
Or save even more time by watching the Unsolved Mysteries segment on the case, which is actually shown quite a bit in this very film. I've seen countless horror movies that are "Based on a true story", but this is the first that's actually had the idea to just let Robert Stack deliver the exposition - how is this low budget production the first? I'm not talking like in Baseketball or Mumford where Stack plays himself and delivers a scripted monologue about the story in that particular movie - Mary's main character goes online and finds a clip from Unsolved Mysteries that actually aired on the show's February 9th, 1994 episode. It's kind of genius, actually.
Too bad the rest of the movie isn't that inspired (or hilariously lazy, I guess). Most of it is a pretty bland tale of a high school kid (one with a troubled past) meeting up with Mary and then becoming the main suspect in a string of murders that begin shortly after, since all of the victims are friends of his. There's a bit of a twist to it regarding the film's villain, but it's not enough to forgive the movie for dwelling on boring teen melodrama, or the abundance of time spent on a pair of cops (Richard Riehle and Charlie Schlatter) accusing the kid of doing it when we know he didn't. It's like The Fugitive (which also had Riehle! Love that guy) - we know Kimble didn't kill his wife, so they get all that investigation stuff out of the way in the first 15 minutes and spend the rest of the movie with Kimble on the run as Gerard closes in and gradually realizes he's wrong. But here, it's almost like we're supposed to doubt the kid, even though we know he's elsewhere for a number of the deaths. There are also POV shots that cancel out other suspects (it sort of has a whodunit slasher vibe to it), another bizarre decision from the filmmakers that serves to hurt the narrative more than help.
I also couldn't get behind the ill-fitting comic book style panels that bridge scenes, or the excessive number of newspaper clippings that we see to fill in back-story (or perhaps keep distracted viewers up to date on what's happening, like a "previously, on Lost" thing at the top of a new episode). Some don't even seem to make sense - at one point the hero is accused of another murder, and in between the scene where he runs away from the scene and the one where he arrives at home (presumably only a few minutes later), we see a newspaper headline about the crime that just occurred. Why are we seeing a headline from the future? It's not the worst concept, but the execution is beyond bungled. And the comic panels just seem to come from a different movie entirely - no one is a comic artist, the story isn't particularly exciting or action-heavy... why are they being used here?
And why did they retain the story's Chicago setting when they're clearly shooting in LA? I don't think transplanting the legend would be as annoying to those who knew better than seeing palm trees and mountains in what's supposed to be Illinois. Yes, the exact same mistakes are in Halloween, but they don't remind you over and over that we're supposed to be in Illinois like they do here - lots of closeups on license plates, people discuss Chicago, deep dish pizza, etc. Just say it's LA, or opt for a non-setting (which makes sense for this sort of story anyway).
However, the relative lack of any harsh R rated elements and teen-centric story would make it a fine option for your 13 year old daughter having an October sleepover. They'll swoon over the lead, get caught up in the high school drama, and not get too traumatized by the horror elements, and the newspaper headlines can help them stay on track if they start talking over the scenes where those plot points were already made. See, every movie has its purpose.
The disc comes with the five standard bonus features: 1. the trailer, 2. a making of, 3. some deleted scenes, 4. a gag reel, and 5. an audio commentary, though none of them are any more essential than the film itself. The gag reel is particularly obnoxious, because like the film it has on-screen text explaining things we don't need explained to us. The deleted scenes are filler, the commentary a bit obnoxious (lot of actors giggling, not much insight, though they do at least point out a few of the geographic errors), and the trailer... well the trailer is admirably accurate, as it's just as clunky and overlong as the film itself, and even shows off the comic book transitions for some reason. The making of is worth a look though, if only to laugh at the fact that one of the actresses is seemingly drunk.
All that, and yet, still better than the one with Joe Estevez.
What say you?