Crazy Eights (2006)

MAY 6, 2008


It’s no secret that I will often give a generic movie a slightly better review if it’s technically proficient (blame all of the movies I’ve watched that couldn’t get either the technical OR creative aspects correct), but what do I do when it comes to a movie like Crazy Eights? It’s one of the best shot low budget films I’ve seen in ages, and certainly made with more effort than any of the other After Dark films from this year (save for Mulberry Street, which remains the only one I really consider independent). But the movie itself? Couldn’t make heads or tails of it. At no point in the entire film was I quite sure why the horror-ish things were happening, and the ending was even less coherent.

But man, what a great looking film. Director James K. Jones and DP Stephen M. Lyons have somehow found a way to combine M. Night Shyamalan’s endless takes (entire scenes play out in one or two shots) with Michael Bay’s non-stop camera movement. If there’s a still shot in the entire film, I didn’t catch it. They are also fond of Dutch angles, which when combined with the almost floating camerawork give the film a very interesting and energetic feel, which is all the more impressive when you consider that the entire film consists of five folks standing around looking at walls and news clippings and old toys.

And yes, five. The plot description will say six, but the film has a Noonan, played by Dan Deluca. While he is given his own death scene (and his death is acknowledged by his friends, which puts him above his namesake), his character is so extraneous it’s almost laughable in certain scenes. For example, after the funeral that serves as the reason for these estranged friends to get back together, they all go out to eat. During the dinner, everyone but him not only talks, but gets a closeup. I wasn’t even aware he was actually with them until a wide shot revealed him sitting in between two of the others. Poor sod. Naturally, he is the first to die, and even before then he is more or less written out of the film by the most exaggerated injury in film history (he falls down maybe 5 steps and yet his leg looks like it was run over by a truck and then partially eaten).

Actually, there is almost another non-character, but since she’s played by Gabrielle Anwar, she gets elevated a bit. Like Deluca’s character, she disappears for long stretches and doesn’t really interact with the others. She spends most of the film rocking back and forth on a chair (what I wouldn’t give to be that chair...) before shoving her hands down her own throat and ripping it out from the inside. Not sure why they would hire a relatively well-known actress to do so little in a film, but hey, any Anwar is fine by me.

The real casting surprise is none other than George Newbern as the lead. He plays the least obnoxious priest in movie history (he wears jeans and smokes instead of telling everyone how to live their life before molesting little kids), and even though he’s third billed, he’s essentially the lead. Newbern is the star of one of my favorite movies as a kid: It Takes Two. It’s the tale of a man who is about to get married, but before he does so he wants to buy a sports car. He does, but the car falls apart, then he eats some bad Mexican, fucks some hot blonde woman, blows up the car dealership, and gets married on time. It’s never come out on DVD, but occasionally airs on cable. It’s also got one of my favorite movie scores ever, composed by none other than Carter Burwell (I believe it was his first film) who is known for his work with the Coens. Anyway, good to see him again.

Also on hand are Dina Meyer, Frank Whaley, and Traci Lords. It’s the most impressive cast assembled for an After Dark film yet, and I think it helps smooth over some of the film’s shortcomings (you know, like, not making any goddamn sense). I’m not sure if it was the INTENT to never really explain anything (some theories on the IMDb seem to make sense, but damned if anything in the film really support them), but if so they did a piss poor job. Then again, the film has one of the strangest writing credits I’ve ever seen – “Additional Screenplay Rewrites By...” followed by three names, one of which (Jones again) is also credited with the screenplay itself? Who the fuck credits himself for rewriting his own script?

And once again, the DVD is completely lacking in extras, which is incredibly strange, since all of the AD films from the first year had at LEAST a making of featurette. So far this year, the only ones with extras are Nightmare Man and Mulberry, which incidentally are also the most truly independent of the series.

Still, the atmosphere, the pace (it’s only 80 minutes long with credits), and occasional (brief) gore are admirable, and the cast much better than this type of stuff is usually afforded. I can’t go so far as to say it was GOOD, because I think story should come first above all else, but the craftsmanship alone puts it above many others. Maybe a few more (or less?) of those credited rewrites would have resulted in this being the best of this year’s offerings, but instead we are left with a mixed bag – A well made and well cast movie that unfortunately doesn’t have a script worthy of the efforts.

What say you?


  1. "Crazy Eights" was the last film shown. Like you, I could never really figure out what the hell was going on. I have all the DVD's now but friends of mine keep taking them so I haven't been able to rewatch this one again. I am hoping that it will help clear up some questions I had by watching it again.

  2. Terrible movie. Hated it from the start. It is a weak story with bad special, and long driven scenes that I didn't need to see. At least Lake Dead had one really good kill.

  3. Actually the very end of the movie tries to clear things up for everyone... right after the woman gets her eyes ripped out.
    the three remaining start talking about a girl named Karen that they had to leave behind when all of them escaped. they promised to come back for her so they could all be 'together forever' but when they came back she was dead. that was the body in the box, karen.
    She was the crazy ghost killing everyone.
    even with that little bit of understanding, i had no idea what was going on most of the time. or what the ending meant 'by everything tying them to their guilt'

  4. this is the worst fucking movie ever. it didnt make sense the WHOLE time, and the best line of the movie was "im in a point in my career where i dont need skeletons in my closet, and this is a FREAKIN literal skeleton!"- said by the one crazy guy who said "fuck" every minute.

  5. Just saw this on Netflix, and the story was, indeed, in sad shape. All 7 people had the same, doctor-father and didn't know/remember even though they grew up together? Say huh? And the "revelations" in the movie were hilariously unfounded - "They were trying to teach us guilt". Say double-huh? Or how about the "everything tied to her is tied to our guilt and must be destroyed" - said by the priest, right out of the blue. No real reasons as to why this is going to work are given. He may as well have said "maybe if we tied our guilt to our butt-holes we could fart compassion and destroy the ghost" - which makes about as much sense.

  6. Just saw this made no sence and was up with the whole teaching the guilt? worst movie of the year award nominee

  7. Very confusing. You'd think with all of the imagination out there, they'd be able to come up with a story that felt "told". Watching this movie felt like being on the outside of an inside joke.

  8. First of all, your review is fucking hilarious.
    Second, I totally agree about the filmography. It was a nice film to watch if you mute it and don't try to follow along with the story.
    Lastly, I didn't get it so I just turned it off after the hot blonde from Tommy Knockers got her eyes gouged.
    Glad to see I am not the only person who didn't understand it, and it seems I never will.

  9. i found this movie delightfully odd in its own had that very nostalgic idea of some old hitchock movie, or a twelve angry men no means am i comparing this film to cinematic gold or some of the best films ever made, butit had the makings to be just a fantastic movie, it had a great plot, smart ideas, good ties and a conclusion that leaves it open to your interputation...HOWEVER...theacting was B rated...good but nothing amazing...there was no suspense to hold anything together, and sad as it sounds, i almost feel more gore would have kept my interest..meanwhile, does anyone full get the end? thought was that the ghost was after them because she thought they ball left her to die, when really nobody meant too excpet the leading lady, who was given the choice whether to save her or not?...thought?!

  10. This movie was bad but I wanted to see the ending to see if it would all come together. I came to the conclusion that it kind of did but it was not worth 80 minutes. I still don't understand why guilt played such a large role in this movie or why attempting to burn everything related to Karen was going to solve everything; wouldn't that mean they would have to burn down pictures, the chest, the beds heck the whole building too? This movie had a sad could have been executed better .


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