JULY 25, 2013
Don't let the 5-6 reviews a month fool you - I've been watching probably 4-5 movies a week since "retiring" (mostly for my Netflix gig), but haven't had the energy to review most of them because they were so bad and I honestly couldn't think of anything to say about them. But I'm making an exception for The Demented, a zombie movie from Anchor Bay hitting stores next week, because I really want to know - what, exactly, was the impetus to make this movie? Sometimes when I write a negative review I purposely leave out the filmmakers' names so that they don't come leaving anonymous nasty comments (knowing that they will after seeing it happen to a friend for that particular film or filmmaker), but I'm going to mention them all specifically in hopes that they DO find this and inform me.
The film's script and direction is attributed to Christopher Roosevelt, but not only is it his first credit for either, there are fourteen (FOURTEEN!) credited producers, so I am wary to put much of the film's blame on him - something about many cooks and broth comes to mind. There are only six people in the movie not counting the random zombies and maybe a couple of background extras, which means there are 2.3 producers for each character with a name - that is not a formula I would expect to produce a particularly great movie. So I'm just as curious (if not more so) to hear from them - I'll skip the execs and associates, and stick with the straight up "producer" credits for this purpose: Shirley Craig, Christine Holder, Mark Holder, Damiano Tucci, and Steven R. Monroe, who directed the not-bad I Spit On Your Grave remake and brought along that film's lovely star, Sarah Butler, to play one of our six here.
So if any of them are reading this, please, enlighten me - why exactly was this movie made? It's rare that I've seen a movie THIS painfully generic - at first I thought the laughably stock characters (six friends off on a weekend of fun, of course) was lulling us into a false sense of security, like maybe there was a Cabin in the Woods style twist coming that REQUIRED us to instantly know (or think we know) exactly how all of this would play out. But no! After 20 minutes or so there's a missile attack that turns its victims into zombies, and we are treated to mindless, completely uninspired and almost laughably recycled zombie attack scenes, with a cast member dutifully being offed every 15 minutes. One cast member exits a bit earlier than I expected, and the ending is surprisingly grim (though it doesn't seem to fit, and it's clear that they shot two endings and opted to use both, treating one as an out of nowhere hallucination or something), but otherwise there isn't a single moment in the movie where I had even the slightest understanding of why this movie was made.
I mean, don't movies start with an idea? Don't they want to set it apart from the 5962 other zombie movies that have come along in the past 5-6 years? Even the worst of the lot tend to have a relatively new hook behind them - take the godawful Doomed, for example. It's inept, terrible, and every other bad word you can throw at it, but at least I understood how it came together - someone had the idea to combine zombies with a reality show featuring a video game type scoring system. A concept! The concept here is six friends (one of whom of course has been cheating on her boyfriend with one of the other one's boyfriends, because the movie is dedicated to doing things we've seen in too many other movies) run away from zombies. The zombies have some weird thing where they stand still when they can't see a victim, but not enough is done with this wrinkle, and otherwise they're the same fast, "infected" style undead that in my opinion keep the scenario from ever being really scary - slow ones that you THINK you can easily avoid getting you is much scarier, to me.
Hell I'd even forgive the threadbare story and non-existent angle if they were at least showing off a ton of new ways to kill zombies and/or show zombies killing people, but the movie fails miserably there, too. A number of deaths are basically off-screen, and while the digital blood is thankfully kept to a minimum, unfortunately so are zombies themselves - there's only a couple dozen (being generous) and it seems most of them are dispatched by a car hitting them (sans splatter). A few nice stunts, sure, but so what? WHY AM I WATCHING THIS??? I seriously began just trying to imagine the pitch meeting for this movie and honestly couldn't think of a single thing that anyone might have said that would have perked up the ears of someone about to put his or her money on the line to make it. "What's that, you say? The guy who gives his girlfriend a promise ring at the beginning dies? No one will see that coming! I want to be in The Demented business!"
Sometimes people like to compare low-brow movies to McDonald's, the "not every movie needs to be a steak, sometimes you want junk food" defense. Hell, I'm sure I've used it myself more than once. But this isn't a McDonald's hamburger - this is a HOLOGRAM of a McDonald's hamburger. It looks like a real movie, but if you inspect it closely, you'll realize there's absolutely nothing there. I sincerely hope someone involved can explain what I'm missing here; I'm truly at a loss, and unless I hear otherwise I'll just assume this is one of the most cynical cash-in productions I've seen in years, and that includes sequels. I'd rather watch an incompetent movie with an idea than a (mostly) competent one that I struggle to even remember a specific detail about the second I shut it off.
Oh and it was shot in Louisiana, so you can't even enjoy the scenery all that much as you've probably seen it in 15 other movies.
What say you?