Blackwoods (2002)

DECEMBER 29, 2008


At this point, I don’t think I need to once again explain that I am no hater of Uwe Boll. Sure, his films have problems, but there’s no such thing as a filmmaker who achieves greatness every time out (Christ, I’ve always at least been able to finish Boll’s films, I can’t say the same for Steven Spielberg thanks to 1941), and more importantly, they are far from the bottom of the barrel. Anyone who truly thinks that Alone in the Dark is the worst movie ever made clearly hasn’t been reading my site. But despite my minor appreciation for the guy, I still haven’t gotten around to watching any of his pre-video game movies, which are often cited as “not as terrible” by even his harshest critics. So I was hoping Blackwoods, made in 2001, would be a minor gem, relatively speaking anyway.

Sadly, it’s a disappointing effort. While admirably slower paced and more focused on character and such, it’s pretty weak overall, and suffers from a lot of the same problems his more notorious films are known for: baffling use of slo-mo, nonsensical casting (Patrick Muldoon in a Jacob’s Ladder-ish psychological turn? No. Just no.), and a soundtrack that seemingly goes out of its way to not fit the scene. Nothing is as ludicrous as the anti-racism song that played over the love scene in AITD, but the selections from the Macy Gray-esque Charlemaine come pretty close, with her wailing about a failed relationship over shots of Muldoon accidentally running someone over.

But it also has a lot of the actors that are part of Boll’s stable, including Michael Paré as the town sheriff. He has what has to be my single favorite “Oh... Oh Boll...” moment in the entire film, when a waitress asks where the girl’s family is, and Paré instantly replies with this ditty, all in one breath, in the middle of a coffee shop:

“When people do wrong they know it, whether or not they accept it is another story. You get to believe your own lies if you tell ‘em long enough. You can’t escape your past no matter how hard you try; things have a way of coming back, some folks might call it haunting. I imagine my telling this story in years to come I’ll gloss over my part in it, relieving my conscience of my guilt. My nonchalance. The truth always comes back, it always does. God has a hell of a sense of humor.”

(I added in some punctuation that Paré’s script apparently omitted. I wish I could just show you the scene; my transcription doesn’t do it justice.)

Also on board is Clint Howard, who also appeared in House of the Dead. Unsurprisingly, he’s the best thing in the movie, playing a perverted motel clerk with Bozo hair, who offers condoms to guests instead of mints. Faring less well is Will Sanderson, cast as Muldoon’s friend who sits around playing GTA and grills him about his new girlfriend’s tit size.

Now, none of these thespians are known for their award-worthy work, and to be fair, they all do fairly decent with the script they were given, which had a good concept but a jarring tone/pace. It’s clear Boll wanted to say something about revenge and taking responsibility for one’s actions, but he needed a better writer to pull it off. There are two pretty big problems that he can’t overcome: Key information is hidden from the audience for far too long, and our hero is simply unlikable. There are moments where answers are about to be given, only to cut away to something else for a while, so that by the time Boll returns to the scene, you’ve already figured out the answer for yourself. Also, the scenes that play out in flashback, showing what REALLY happened, are so goddamn ridiculous (particularly the ones with Muldoon in his motel room) that it’s impossible to take the movie seriously anymore, which is precisely what it is trying to achieve at this point.

I am being intentionally vague, because even though the movie is like seven years old, I assume many of you haven’t seen it, and I don’t want to spoil it. And that’s a shame, because I REALLY want you to watch the hilarious trailer for the film, which gives pretty much everything away. But what makes the trailer so special is the narrator, who sounds like he’s making up his voice over on the spot. I have linked it below (there was no embed code), but beware: again, it spoils almost every twist in the movie.

I do want to point one thing out though: I dunno if it was Boll or his co-writer (Robert Dean Klein, who also wrote, *sigh*, Dark Ride), but there is an exchange between two of the redneck characters that floored me:

Redneck mom: “Because of this, I can’t get none of that.... what do they call it?”
Redneck son: “Satisfaction!”

Hahaha. Good to know even backwoods hicks appreciate the Stones. Or Britney Spears.

What say you?

Trailer: HERE


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