Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Ten Statements About....DESCENDANT (2002)

"The death of a beautiful woman is unquestionably the most poetical topic in the world."

1) You know, I didn't buy Jeremy London as a slacker palling around with Banky in Mallrats. What makes you think I could buy him as a disturbed writer charming enough to romance and bed the conflicted Ann (played by Katherine 'I Have A Stupid Face' Heigl) and clever enough to murder several people without anyone figuring it out?

2) But London's squirrelly performance as Ethan Poe/Usher is key to why this film simply doesn't work. This is a film where every male character save for the doctor played by William Katt (who co-wrote and co-directed this mess off of producer Del Tenny's story) is just fucking insane. There's no way any of the three leads are a viable prospect for Ann--not Ethan, not the town deputy with anger issues who seems to stalk her, and certainly not her brother who is either trying to bed her or burn their house down.

3) It also doesn't help that Ann is one of those characters who is written in such a wispy way that she seems to have no life outside of the scenes she's in. There are a couple of lip-service like moments where we see Ann working on a statue because she's a sculptor but other than that she lives out her days wandering her house and allowing Ethan to have his way with her.

4) And while we're on the subject of Ann as an unbelievable heroine--the woman sees fit to overlook multiple scenes of her live-in boyfriend having very heated arguments with an imaginary version of Edgar Allen Poe and doing some impromptu remodeling of the basement. I mean, is she that hard up for male companionship that she refuses to see what a wack-a-doo Ethan is?

5) Apparently, in the world of this movie, people are capable of surviving being bludgeoned to death and subsist for several days without bleeding out. And as much as I liked Whitney Dylan's Lisa (the only character remotely close to a normal character in this film), I find it hard to believe that she was able to survive mummification and being walled alive for a similar time frame.

6) Since this movie revolves around descendants of Poe (never mind that, to the best of my knowledge, Poe's family line ended with him), the script seems to delight in providing us with visual and dialogue shoutbacks to the more famous Poe the most hamfisted way possible. I'm sorry, but having Ann shoot someone while yelling 'Nevermore' is, ummm, dopey.

(And on a related note, the obsession this script has with incest--not only does Ann's brother want to fuck her, but there's a full-on romantic kiss between Ethan and the woman we learn later is his mother--is just icky.)

7) And apparently, 'The Fall of The House of Usher' was journalism, not fiction. Who knew?

8) Boy, is Matt Farnsworth, wait...everyone is pretty much awful.

9) You know, for a film made in 2002 and released on video in 2003, the film has a particularly skeevy 1990's Skinemax feel, right down to the two or three scenes that seem to be there solely so some woman can bare her breasts so Katherine Heigl doesn't have to. Which is odd, given that the last time producer Del Tenny put a movie together, it was the 60's.

10) Every time Arie Verveen shows up as The Ghost of Poe, it's winceworthy. It's like all of a sudden we end up in a dinner theater production of 'An Evening With Edgar Allen Poe,' only with overtly-made-up women and gore effects.

Overall...a true mess of a film that prolly only has any sort of cachet because of Heigl's inexplicable success several years later. Incoherent, graceless and slow, it's a film so bad I'm not surprised no stills exist for me to display.

And for the record, the only reason I watched this is because it was on the same disc as Roman; my 10 Statements can be found here.

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