|Yeah, I'd be pissed if my director was|
ripping off Jim Van Bebber...
"By who, Captain Hook?""
1) This is a horror movie written and directed by people whose understanding of horror movies was derived solely by watching horror movies circa the mid-00's. It's all there--the video ramping, the wobbly-cam, the quick cuts, the whole derelict esthetic, the industrial hum every time we get a smash cut scare, the transposition of an innocent song with scenes of extreme carnage...I could go on, but I don't want to.
2) Actually, I could go on, but this film is shot so darkly that, quite frankly, it's hard to even figure out what's going on. Oh, sure, you can glean that all the eye-plucking and hook slinging and forcing people to choke on their own cell phones or feeding people to a pack of wild dogs (obviously all designed to appeal to the torture porn audience), but only if you squint and fiddle with the brightness control of your television...and even then you might only figure out what's going on in the abstract.
3) Hmmm...did director Gregory 'New Wave Hookers' Dark think that those video-name-tags on the kids when they're exiting their prison would allow us to understand their characters more quickly? Because, you know, I still couldn't figure out who was who, even with everyone yelling everyone else's name all the time.
4) Honestly, Mr. Dark, couldn't you have concealed that revelation about the kindly old woman from the Historical Society really being the mother of Jacob Goodnight who tortured him into becoming an eye-plucking serial murderer just a little bit more? Because anyone who didn't figure that out at, oh, roughly the ten minute mark when she's introduced really doesn't have a clue.
|"I like cheese.....heh...."|
5) And while we're on the subject of Jacob Goodnight, Mr. Dark...don't you think that if you're trying to create a new horror movie character ripe for a franchise--for that's what WWE Films was originally intended for, right? To create movie franchises for wrestlers so they wouldn't leave the promotion?--you should mention the character's name once? Seems counterproductive to never tell us what to call your boogeyman when you're hoping we'll want to see his further adventures.
6) Okay, I get that Christina Vidal's Christine is meant to be a Final Girl because her mentor Williams tells us how she got arrested for protecting her sister from their abusive stepfather. And I can accept that Samantha Noble's Kira can survive, even after being Jim Van Bebber'd in a cage and threatened with eye-plucking and torture by Joshua, since Dark takes pains to establish that Christine is protective of Kira. But when you spend so much time establishing how Luke Pegler's Michael beat the shit out of Kira and was out for revenge on her for sending him to prison, and show him throughout the film acting like a horny, destructive asshole....don't expect me to accept him as the film's hero in the last act.
7) The sad thing? Glen Jacobs, billed here under his wrestling name of Kane, is a real physical presence. Not only does he endeavor to show some nuance in his portrayal of Goodnight--he fails, but I respect he tried--he obviously is able to translate his physical ability as a wrestler into some decent physical acting. However, this character is so badly underwritten, and ultimately results in a downright embarrassing scene which requires Jacobs to mime masturbating while watching Noble squirm around in a cage that any credit he earns in the first two acts is pissed away in the third.
|"Awwww, man...she's a hot chick, he's got a pipe, and I'm|
black...I'm SO gonna die here!"
8) Considering that, at its core, this is an 'old dark house' film, there's no real sense of how this hotel that's serving as the old dark house is laid out. Hell, I didn't realize there were two sets of elevators in this place until a key point in Act Three. Similarly, there are plot seeds dropped about the history of the hotel that never blossoms or even explored beyond their being mentioned in passing. But then....
9) This film--and I have to give Dark and writer Dan Madigan some grudging respect for convincing Vince MacMahon and his then-new start-up company to finance this--doesn't have a plot. And by that I don't mean it's one of these meandering string of set-pieces I usually refer to as plotless...I mean that there's not enough story to fill an average paragraph. It's not a plot, it's not an outline...it's a pitch sentence in movie form.
10) And I can think of no more perfect metaphor as to what watching this movie felt like other than the post-credit stinger after the cast credits rolled...namely, the scene where a stray dog trots up to Jacob Goodnight's cooling corpse and--in close-up, not less!--pisses in his empty eye socket.
Overall...unless you want to watch this as a curiousity...don't. Just dont'. And for that matter, don't let porn directors direct horror movies.