Monday, October 10, 2011

Horror Film Review

Dark Remains (2005):  I'm not a stupid man.  Indeed, I'm actually a member of Phi Beta Kappa, but sometimes a horror movie comes along that I know isn't complicated, yet for the life of me, I can't grasp the "whys."  Why are the ghosts so pissed off?  Why did these folks kill themselves in the first place?  And why, for the love of God, do people continue to think that moving to a cabin in the woods won't end badly? 

Allen and Julie Pyke (Greg Thompson and Cheri Christian) apparently don't because that's exactly what they do after their daughter Emma is murdered in her own bed.  Here is another why (and who) that sails over my head.  At any rate, depressed and treated with suspicion, they decide renting a log cabin in the middle of nowhere is the way to go.  Am I the only person who watches horror movies?

Anyway, Julie's an art photographer and eventually starts snapping pics again.  Now, what do you suppose she discovers during a walk in the woods?  I mean besides an obligatory grave marker.  Why, of course...she stumbles upon an abandoned prison.  In the woods.  In the mountains.  Sure.  When she develops the photos (no digital camera for her) she sees Emma.  Oddly, Allen sees nothing pics.  We learn the previous renters committed suicide and that there have been a number of other "accidental" deaths in the area over the years, always around the same date.  Once Allen finally realizes he's got a ghost problem and that it might be a good idea to get the hell out before that date rolls around, Julie won't go.  She's convinced Emma is there and refuses to leave her.  We also learn that local handyman Jim (Scott Hodges), whose mother died on the above mentioned date, is somehow involved with the deaths.  Again, right over my head.  I dig subtlety, I really do, but come on guys...throw me a bone here. 

My obtuseness aside, you get the feeling you've seen this movie before; however, there's enough consistent tension and creepy ghost shots (in mirrors, zipping across the room in the background, etc.) to where you simply won't care.  My main complaint, other than it made me feel stupid, is Cheri Christian.  It's like she's been doped up and injected with botox for all the emotion we get out of her.  Thompson, though, is very watchable and works to counteract her inexplicable apathy.  And I must admit, the ghost effects were very...effective.  They got me, and I'm hard to get got.

The Breakdown

Acting:  Other than the two leads (see above), the acting was such that you know it's not good but you also know it could be so much worse.  Best I can do is "not distracting."
Story:  It seems like the writers tossed every paranormal conceit they could think of into the mix.  The "try everything and hope one or two work" theory.  They got lucky.  One or two did work.
Direction:  There's a lot of stuff going on in this film, thanks to the writer.  Good thing the writer is also the director (Brian Avenet-Bradley), otherwise I think it would have been a disaster on a Biblical scale.
Production Values:  Well, it's on film.  That's something.  To be fair, the cabin set is quite good as is the prison.  And you can't go wrong with mountain scenery.  It's a low budget flick that doesn't feel cheap.  Can't ask for more than that.
Gore/FX:  Yep.  There's blood.  Quite a few wrist-slashing scenes and related suicide nastiness.  I was impressed with the make-up jobs for the ghosts.  They were properly horrifying.
Scares:  Uh, yep.  Like I said got me.  You know that thing they do in horror movies where the actor moves and behind him is the ghost, just standing there, staring?  Or when a ghost shoots across the foreground but without the "gotcha" music?  Yeah...lots of that.  Started fraying my nerves.  Oh, and there is one scene in particular that will force you to change your shorts.  No lie.  Jesus...just thinking about it now gives me the willies.
The Ending:  Once again, me and the feeling stupid.  Someone lives, someone dies, and in a way, they become a family again.  Sort of.  I will say that I've never in my life been so unnerved by a porch swing.

The Verdict:  Should you see Dark Remains?  I have to say "yes."  There are just too many seriously spooky parts not to.  Just don't think too hard about the plot.  Ignorance in this case is bliss.

My Rating:  3 out of 5 stars. 

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