First and foremost, a little disclaimer. Like The Haunting in Connecticut, I tried watching this with an open mind. True, I loved the original, and I realize that it's a tough order to even match the movie in terms of originality, mindscrewage and sheer memorability. Still, I was prepared to give this movie a chance. After all, sequels to highly succesful and beloved classics made ten years later with only one cast member from the original occasionally works all right, right? Still, I'd be lying if I didn't say I had an odd feeling of approaching doom and disappointment when I put this DVD in the DVD player
I try not to let it go to my head to any mentionable degree, but some times, I am so right it is almost not funny. The biggest spoiler I can give to this movie is how completely balls-to-the-wall batshit insanely bad this is, and boy howdy, I will spoil the hell out of this in that regard. Sure, I might just also spoil the other plot points, the ones who are not blatantly ripped from the still miraculously fresh corpse of Donnie Darko, that is. Trust me, as I approach the climax, you will understand why I am willing to go to such degrees to convince you this movie is nothing to use either your time or your money on.
We follow Samantha Darko and her totally not one-note character BFF, Corey. Their car breaks down near a quiet little town, and they decide to stay there untill their car gets fixed. No, that was not the beginning to a slasher movie nor the vaugely connected sequel to The Wicker Man titeled The Wicker Man 2: Wicker Harder, that's how it begins. Anyway, this town has a problem or two, namely dissapearing children and a shellshocked Desert Storm vet. lovingly nicknamed Iraq Jack. So, said veteran gets saved from a comet from a time-traveling dead Sam... gee, that sure leaves one hell of a mystery as to what will happen with our intrepid heroine, aaand I think I'll stop recapping there. Why? Because from here on out, except a few cases of raging idiocity which, trust me, I will not let slip, this movie is Donnie Darko done with a less compelling cast, less skilled crew and an originality liposuction done by a black hole.
This movies only claim to fame is that it has TWO controlled dead and goes back in time twice. Why? Because quantity trumps quality, did you learn nothing from Saw II, you fool? As a result, our protagonist dies twice... Look, it was sad and interesting in Donnie Darko because you got some sympathy for the fellow, you actually understood the choice he took, despite all the things he had to give up. Granted, in the first of her deaths, they try to emulate a similar feeling, but in the second one... contrived and utterly uninteresting doesn't begin to cover it. Partially because the movie allready had gone completely insane, presumably by trying too hard to live up to the first film. I'd really rant more about the senselessly idiotic way she died, but really, considering what happens afterwards, it's hard to muster any kind of leftover rage.
You remember how it always was a little vauge how the world would end exactly in Donnie? Something to do with a stable time loop, or something. Have no fear though, because in S. Darko, it seems the universe is fed up with the movies noncoherent ramblings and decides to destroy the earth with.... tesseracts made out of fire? Which arrives from a suspiciously Dr. Who-esque portal? Baffeling enough, this seems to be happening only because a nerd got his hands on a space rock that, I'm guessing here, since the movie again explains fuck all, gives him increased confidence in trade for raging out hulk-lite style when he gets mad. Sorta like Venom from Spider Man, except there's no explanation, no reason for it to be there and it doesn't produce a badass multifanged murdermonster, as much as a person with slightly above average shoving power. I wish I could say this probably makes sense on some level, like I do with everything else I do not understand... but no, I'm not giving this movie the benefit of the doubt.
That about covers it as far as plot-related stupidity goes, except for a few minor, but still annoying things. Apparantly, there's a rule on two stuck-together pages in The Philosophy of Time Travel that each bout of time travel has to include the target burning down a building somehow associated with a pedophile. Luckily, to make this easier, S. Darko has a pretty much flat out clone of the motivational speaker guy from D.D, only this time he's a priest and leader of the youth group... make of that what you will, but it is implied he was the one who kidnapped and did Cthulhu knows what with little kids. He even has his own fanatical, prudish female sidekick... how cute, the movie seems to think that if they try hard enough, we'll forget that we are in fact NOT watching Donnie Darko.
Now, there's little to no chance of us doing that, mostly because, as I said, the crew is clearly not as tallented as the people responsible for Donnie Darko. In the original, the camerawork was fascinating to the point of being hypnotic, the lighting gave it a ional feel while still keeping things just a little closer to David Lynch-land than most flicks. S. Darko has none of that kind, the lighting and camerawork, saddly is closer to that of "Zombie Strippers," and although the acting is better, it's not all that much.
What furstrated me the most about this movie, though, was that it did not really expand upon the source material as much as threw it in a copy machine and hope no-one noticed. Sure, there's one scene that might imply that every time a teen dies from some absurd cause, he or she in reality saved the world. On the other hand, that could be just my imagination running wild, in fact, I hope it is, because that would go as far as make the first movie less, which, I must add, is worse than adding nothing.
So, in short, S. Darko gives you nothing you couldn't get from reading TimeCube untill you think you get it all while stopping every 15 minutes to catch up on some soaps and pluck out a hair somewhere on your body.
Bonus Track: Stan Helsing
Now, since this rant hasn't quite worn me out, I figure I can add another small raving, 'cause I'm worth it, as the comercials say.
You see, I love browsing in the DVD stores. Sure, the prices are better online, and the selection too. It's mostly the fact that whenever I go to a DVD store, it's like a little treasure hunt. Maybe I'll see a cover that seems interesting, and thus discover my new favorite movie. Sure, at the point of writing, I've found none of my absoulte favorite movies in a DVD store, but I've found some good ones. Of course, I've found some bad ones too, but nothing so bad I couldn't just put it down and go on with my life, forgetting the horrible film was ever made.
Not untill today, that is. I foolishly decided checking out the BluRay section, since I'm getting a BluRay-compatible computer soonish. And there I find it... the movie Stan Helsing... it's a pun on van Helsing... geddit? Now, if this was an actual parody of Van Helsing, as in the god-awful brainless actionfest where vampires, apparantly, lay eggs. It wouldn't even be so hard to parody. All you needed to add was a more or less sane guy that pointed out all the stupid, stupid things this movie wants us to go along with, add the other characters not really getting what he's going at and a chase scene with Yakkety Sax and you're done.
That's not going to what it is though. Instead, it's one in the long line of bad Scary Movie ripoffs. Our good friends Seltzer and Friedberg have decided to sit this one out, Azathoth be praised, instead the smash hit writer/director Bo Zenga takes us on a wild rollercoaster ride. Shine on you crazy diamond... yeah. The plot is centered around the titular character, who has to lift the curse on town that for some reasons makes six famous slasher villains... kill people, I guess? Oh, and the titular character has to do this because he's the descendant of Abraham Van Helsing, who, as we know was a trained slasher-killer. Yeah.
Now, I won't lie, the thought of a proper crossover fight/slashfest between Freddy, Jason, Leatherface, Chucky, Pinhead and Michael Myers does appeal to me... Freddy with a suspiciously Flava Flav-esque giant clock on his chest and a huge white glove he uses for "bitchslapping," Pinhead looking like someone used kabob skewers instead of nails and Jason actually using a hockey club, it took me multiple watchings of the trailer to realize the last one was supposed to be Chucky... jeez louise, the whole thing reeks of shallow parody.
I mean, take Pinhead. Most of the people who'd be remotely interested (and not offended) by this movie have no idea who the guy is, so his shtick seems to be that his costume loks wonky. I can hear the laffs allready. There's just so much else you can do with him that'll be... you know, actually funny, or more fun, that is. I mean, he's a supernatural sadist who comes when you fiddle with a box. There has to be something you can do with that. For a good laff, check the IMDB pages and behold the awesomely totally not copyrighted names, Fweddy, Pleatherface, I could find mirth in this all day, if you by mirth mean hopeless frustration.
If the trailer is to be any indication, the humor will be of a similar calibre. I mean, it's typical for these films to show their best (or most tolerable) jokes in the trailer, hoping to attract people to buy it like so, and judging by what the trailer for Stan Helsing gave us... there's no reason to fear dying of laughter. One of the jokes displayed in such a fashion is the titular character reciting porn titles. You know, the punny ones reffering to other movies or shows. Yeah, aren't those just hillarious? In case you didn't get why this bothered me... this joke was considered funny enough to be in the trailer. Just to add to the sheer trainwreck of it all, they also include a joke about how the che-che-che-ah-ah-ah sound means Jason is nearby... or at least I think it's a joke, the trailer seems to suggest it, but the humor is nowhere to be found.
I mean... jeez, back in the days when I started getting into filmmaking (not so long ago, now that I think about it, but you didn't see shit like this five years ago,) humor of this caliber was reserved for self-made humorists, flinging their futile attempts at provoking laughter out on the internet, hoping for a spec of recognition and acceptance for their craft, despite low to no budget, crappy equipment and editing in Windows Movie Maker. In one way, I have no problem with that, there's a sort of youthfull innocence to it all, and if they slaughter your favorite horror villains, it's no biggie. After all, half the takes it doesn't seem like they can keep a straight face, and the standard Windows Movie Maker screen is awfull disarming. Stan Helsing, on the other hand got a BluRay release... a BluRay release. How did that even happen? The movie seems to be made with Bo's own independant production company, so how in the world this happened is beyond me. Even more puzzling, the movie isn't supposed to be released yet, according to IMDB, but I somehow can't seem to bother about pondering what on earth went down here.
On my way out of the BluRay section, actually turning away from the movie I've just ranted about, I saw a BluRay edition of Dragonball Evolution, and I was yet again reminded that the line between DVD and BluRay has no built-in quality controll, unfortunately.