Sunday, March 6, 2011

Horror Film Review

Pop Skull (2007):  See all those rave reviews on the movie poster?  It makes me wonder...if the movie is so good, how come it's never shown up on my radar?  Could it be that it's not as awesome as we are being led to believe?  Would producers and distributors do such a thing?  Surely not.

Well, as I've said in the past, opinions are like certain nether parts of the human anatomy, everybody has one.  Time, Rolling Stone, etc. loved The Last Exorcism, for example.  I thought it was the most stupid, god-awful waste of...(ahem).  So does Pop Skull fall into this category?  Based on the first 20 or so minutes, I would have shouted a hearty, "Yes!"  Let me explain.

Even before the title sequence, we're shown a disclaimer that warns the film may cause trouble for folks with epilepsy.  I have epilepsy so this wasn't what I'd call a good sign.  Then come the opening credits which are all jerky and flashing and weird, more annoying than anything.  A monotone narrator gives us the scoop on some very bad things that happened in a house a few years back.  This narration is accompanied by a strobe-lit flashback scene showing said bad things.  I had to look away more than once, not because it was gross and nasty, but because the inane strobing gave me a headache.  That brings us to Daniel (Lane Hughes) who just got dumped by his girlfriend and deals with it by moping around that same house and popping over-the-counter cold medicine.  After about five minutes of whining angst, I wanted to throttle the punk. 

If I'm honest, I very nearly stopped the DVD.  The strobe effects were ridiculous, the dialogue almost incomprehensible (they actually used subtitles in places, it was so bad), and the overall art-house feel of the film just screamed pretension.  But then a curious thing happened:   it became a horror movie.  Turns out, Daniel's house is haunted by the purveyors of the evil deeds and they have taken an interest in him.  There's a scene where a creaky door opens on its own while Daniel looks on with mounting terror.  Yeah, it's a cliche, but it hooked me.  As the paranormal activity increases, Daniel's obsession with losing his girlfriend goes from sad and pathetic to creepy and disturbing, and we watch him slowly unravel.  At times, I wondered if some of the scenes were products of his drug use, dreams, or were really happening.  Especially a scene with his best friend's girlfriend where they're in a hotel, they're in a trailer, but they're wearing freaky mime, they're...(see what I mean?). 


Acting:  It's pretty bad but not so bad as to distract.  Well, it does a little but you get used to it. 
Story:  You've seen it before but then again, you haven't.  Sort of Amityville Horror-ish.  And I do mean "ish."
Direction:  The director had to have been all goofed up on Nyquil when shooting this film.  No other explanation for it. 
Production Values:  I'm told the budget for Pop Skull was $2000.00.  I think they spent it all on strobe lights.  To be fair, the film does look like it should have cost more than that.  Maybe $2050.00.
Gore/FX:  I won't go into the strobe light issue again, so I'll just say there's minimal blood and gore. 
Ending:  Just about right.  It leaves you hanging but in a satisfying way.  Spooky, too.
Verdict:  Should you see Pop Skull?  I read a review on IMDB that thoroughly trashed it.  I won't go so far as to say it's a bad movie because it isn't.  It's flawed and weird but if you can handle the strobe effects, I think it's worth a look.  And I didn't have any seizures.  Hey, I live on the edge...

My Rating:  3 out of 5


  1. Well, I don't know where all the comments are from everyone else... but... I love reading your blog - I am not the biggest fan of blood/gore/zombie, but I am a fan of fun writing - plus - have a fascination with ghosts/haunted houses & related topics. This review made me laugh a lot - as usual. Thanks!

  2. Some of the followers of this blog I know personally, and they say they always read it but just never leave comments. I don't think they get the whole feedback thing. Anyway, thanks.