Sunday, March 10, 2013

Horror Film Review

Scary or Die (2012):  I usually avoid horror flicks like this one; you know, a bunch of separate stories loosely connected.  Think Creepshow or Twilight Zone The Movie.  I'm just not interested in a 15 or 20 minute quickie that more often than not isn't fleshed out enough to provide the required horror impact.  So why this time?  Bill Oberst, Jr. (Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies) that's why.  Five shorts and Bill's in just the first one.  Bummer. 

The film starts with "someone" at a computer clicking on videos, which of course are the mini-movies.  The first stars Oberst as Buck, a racist misanthrope who gets his kicks killing Mexicans, illegal or legal, at the border.  So he's at the border with his friend, a man who fell out of the stupid tree and hit every branch on the way down, and his latest woman, who's clueless as to how nuts Buck is.  After killing two Mexicans, his dead-and-buried victims start crawling out of their graves.  Stupid friend dies very badly (they grabbed his legs and did a wishbone thing).  Buck fares about as well as his former victims eat him alive.  Oberst's death scene is intense and quite impressive.  The man knows how to die.  The girl runs, escapes, and then wouldn't you know it, gets gunned down by border guards.  Not exactly original, but could have been worse.

The next story is sort a modern version of Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart where a hit man kills a guy, chops him up, stuffs the pieces in a duffel bag, and tosses it in the trunk of his car.  Then the knocking starts.  A cop stops him, checks the trunk, and oddly, let's him go.  When the killer opens the duffel later, it's empty.  His victim has come back and really isn't very happy.

The third is an odd tale about a sad widower who saves a woman's life (maybe) and gets invited back to her place where things are not what they seem.  This one couldn't hold my attention.

The fourth is the one with the clown and by far the longest.  A clown bites Emmett (Corbin Bleu) who then slowly begins mutating into a clown; skin turns white, feet grow huge, hair turns into a massive white afro, and then there's the mouth, of course.  As bad as this is, he also gets cravings for human flesh.  Emmett fears for the safety of his family and therefore runs away.  The clown who bit him kidnaps his little brother and just as he's about to start snacking on the boy, Emmett shows up and kills the guy...or thing.  When Emmett realizes his life is essentially over, he chooses the death-by-cop method of suicide. 

The last story involves the woman who appears in all four previous stories albeit only peripherally.  She fell in love and fell hard.  The guy turns out to be a two-timing douche who kills her, stuffs her in a steamer trunk, and abandons it in the woods.  Unfortunately for the douche, the woman was sprinkled with goofer dust as a child (a voodoo concoction that protects its recipient from a variety of harms and evils).  At the very end of the movie, we see it's she who's on the internet clicking on the videos.  Yeah, I don't really get it either.  Especially since we're led to believe that zombie woman returns to her trunk in the trees after doing her killing. 

Five stories and none is particularly awesome or groovy.  The first is my favorite by far, though.  It's got zombies, gore, comeuppance, and Oberst.  Good combo.  The clown tale is second best, but it lacks a sense  It suffers under the weight of melancholia that, frankly, irritated me.  The other three aren't awful yet neither are they worth spending much time talking about. 


Acting:  No performance is terrible, but Oberst and Bleu stand out.  There's a reason their names are on the movie poster.
Stories:  Mostly zombie fare and old hat by now.  Emmett's story is the newest old hat.  So to speak.
Direction:  I wish the common denominator connecting the five wasn't so weak.  Otherwise, I didn't see a lot to complain about.
Production Values:  No clue about budget but they don't have a cheap feel to them.  They made an effort at least.  That's more than can be said about half of today's horror flicks. 
Gore/FX:  They don't shy away from blood and yet there isn't gratuitous ickiness.  No CGI that I can remember.
Scares:  Not really.  The hit man story comes closest. 
Ending:  Like I said, the goofer dust woman at the computer didn't make sense to me.  I think it was supposed to be a big deal.  It wasn't.
Verdict:  Should you see Scary or Die?  I don't know...  I will say it's not without interest or totally devoid of creepiness.  I will also say that I prefer one story for the full hour and a half. 

Rating:  3 out of 5

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