Do You Wanna Know A Secret? (2001)

AUGUST 6, 2012


I've seen Do You Wanna Know A Secret? offered on Netflix Instant for a while now, and even though I'm always up for a whodunit slasher, I kept passing it up until now. Why, you may ask? Because the plot sounded too much like I Know What You Did Last Summer (with the box art backing it up - same font even!), a movie I have next to no affinity for. So why would I want to watch a knockoff?

Well, I should have gone with my gut instinct, but perhaps my boss should have told me beforehand that I might be stuck at the office until almost 8 o clock (should have been out by 6) so that I might have planned ahead instead of having to stick with Instant, which is rapidly running out of qualifying HMAD entries for me to watch (most of them are Asian horror). They better step up their game or else I'll have to stop the site even earlier due to a complete lack of available films!

Anyway, the movie's a crushing bore. It's the usual crap about a group of friends being menaced by a killer who leaves them messages, and it seems to relate to a tragic event that occurred a year before, but without any of the style, interesting characters, or decent kill scenes that can elevate such a well-worn premise into a worthwhile film. It takes forever for the killer to start offing the core group, and when he does he gets three of them over like a 2 minute period (though one is just knocked out), and another one is killed off-screen entirely at some undetermined time, in order to make a "surprise" when the killer produces the person's decapitated head during his "this is why I'm killing you" moment to the Final Girl. Well, he hasn't been seen for like 20 minutes, and it's clear that another guy is going to be the hero, so who is surprised here? Idiots? People who have never seen a movie before?

In fact the only good parts in the movie have almost nothing to do with the slasher plot. Perhaps realizing that no one wants to see a modern slasher that doesn't have a single kill in the first hour (save for the obligatory opening kill, which is a shot for shot copy of the big one in Exorcist III), the movie takes a random detour to a nightclub, where the Final Girl is the would-be target of a roofie. Male lead Joseph Lawrence catches on to the guy and confronts him, which leads into the clunkiest, most laughably staged "fight" I've seen in ages. Later, the wannabe rapist is killed by the murderer, which leads to the movie's other highlight: cop Jack McGee telling a random story about Ted Bundy making a sandwich or something.

But the slasher plot is such a colossal failure, it's not even worth watching for these out of nowhere bits of inane silliness. In addition to the glacially-paced kills, the mystery is as half-assed as they come, with the killer's identity so obvious that it's a wonder they even gave him a mask (which looks like a mix of Peter Lorre and ET). Note to slasher filmmakers - if you're going to do the "character disappears and is presumed dead" bit, you need to go about it in one of two ways: Urban Legend style (Pacey really IS dead) or My Bloody Valentine style (Axl disappears during a tense chase and we're too caught up to think much of it - we also think it's Harry Warden). What you DON'T do is have the guy disappear early on when absolutely nothing else is happening, and then present scenes where the killer couldn't possibly be most of the others. Guess what this movie does?

Oh, and all of the onscreen kills are throat slashings. I assume the makeup designer got a good deal on throat applications and forgot to buy anything else; even the disembodied head is botched - they don't actually show the face! The only way to even know what is happening is because the girl says "When ____ gets here, he's going to kick your ass!" (or something equally banal) and the killer says "Oh yeah?" and holds up the obscured head in a wide shot (the closeup just shows the head from the back).

Bit of fascinating trivia - the film was co-written by Del Tenney, who directed the MST3k-ed Horror Of Party Beach, a monster film where the heroes figure out what can stop the monsters pretty early on (sodium) and then never get around to using it until the movie is almost over. 40 years later, he still doesn't understand the simple concept of pacing. Oh, he and co-writer Kermit Christman (awesome name, for what it's worth) gave us the woeful Descendant. I need to make sure I avoid these two for the next 200 or so reviews.

What say you?


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