FTP: High Voltage (2018)

MAY 3, 2022


There's a Dollar Tree next to my supermarket, so every now and then if I'm not pressed for time/too tired I will check out their selection of discount DVDs (with the occasional Blu) and see if there's any HMAD-worthy fodder. One such trip yielded a copy of High Voltage, which had a few name actors (David Arquette, Luke Wilson, and Perrey "DeSilva from Child's Play 3" Reeves) but more importantly was a rock n roll horror plot about a singer who gets electrocuted and now, with the power to zap/drain people (like an electric vampire, basically), uses that skill to make the band more successful. Sounds pretty fun, right? Certainly worth a dollar at any rate, yes?

No. Like, "Betty Gabriel in Get Out" levels of "No." Honestly I don't think I've seen a movie this bad since I was watching this stuff every day. And the biggest problem is that they take this goofy plot far too seriously, to the extent that it seems more like a melodramatic adaptation of the least interesting episode of Behind the Music ever produced more than a horror movie. Arquette (who I figured would be a glorified cameo like his other famous co-stars, but is the actual co-lead) is a washed up musician named Jimmy who peaked in the '80s and is now coasting on his glory years with Hollywood hanger-ons when he discovers a talented but green singer named Rachel (Allie Gonino). She's the one who gets electrocuted after their first (disastrous) gig and gets the power, which helps her with her stage fright and in turn makes her an overnight star, something that could be kind of fun (with Arquette tapping into his own comic energy as a sort of Renfield/Billy Cole) in the right hands.

Alas, in the hands of writer/director/producer Alex Keledjian (who created Project Greenlight, respect) the electrocution stuff, while given some goofy flair in the moment (she's got like, electro-scars up her arms and such, as if to visually remind us that this is indeed a genre film) is for all intents and purposes treated like a drug addiction, and Arquette spends most of the movie staring somberly at her decline, arguing with his protege (the band's guitarist who wants to get her help) or offering a hackneyed narration that occasionally seems to be used to smooth over plot details that aren't depicted very well on screen. Perhaps the script had more scenes that couldn't be shot (or they just got chopped out of the edit in an attempt to improve the pace), but either way the film's timeline is very unclear, where a new scene could be a day or a month after the previous one. But even the climax of the film seems to be missing (Arquette voiceover explains what happens, a huge disaster at a concert that we don't see at all), so I'm guessing it was the budget thing. Or just bad filmmaking.

Honestly there's nothing here to recommend. I wouldn't even mind that it's played so overdramatically if it worked (there are no bad plots, only bad executions), but the characters aren't interesting, their success is too vaguely depicted, and it simply just isn't all that engaging. It's too drawn out and maudlin to work as a compelling "rise and fall of a talent" kind of piece, and the inherent silliness of the "electric vampire" concept, even when as underplayed as it is, makes it impossible to take seriously anyway. It's almost like Keledjian WANTED to make a drug movie but couldn't get funding without genre elements, shoehorning them at the last minute and as minimally as possible (it's like 25-30 minutes in before she even gets zapped, in fact). Arquette's manic energy is his key asset as a performer, but he's dialed down for 90% of his screen time (the only time he seems to be having fun is during a montage of the band making either a music video or an album cover, couldn't tell), so I couldn't help but think that the money they paid him could have been used to bulk up the production value and maybe given the movie some semblance of verisimilitude. I paid a buck and still feel ripped off. Everyone else should VOD (or wait two more weeks for the Blu of) Studio 666, which remembers that rock n roll is supposed to be fun.

What say you?


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