Sunday, July 1, 2012

Horror Film Review

Colour From the Dark (2008):  There are a number of constants in the universe:  Newton's laws, the speed of light, and that if an H.P. Lovecraft story is crafted into a film, its theme will be ancient evil and it will most assuredly suck.  Can't fight it.  Might as well fight gravity or a category 5 hurricane.  Doesn't mean it won't still piss me off every damn time it happens.  Think of it this way...what if every Stephen King story optioned by Hollywood turned out like Troll 2?  Can you imagine Misery, Carrie, or The Shawshank Redemption being so awful, so utterly crappy that you feel embarrassed for Mr. King?  Of course not.  So it's that much worse with H.P. because he's the granddaddy of modern horror.  There should be a special place in hell reserved for those who fail to live up to Mr. Lovecraft's legacy.  If you can't do it well, keep your ass out of the movie business.  Go make tampon commercials or something. 

Rant over for the moment, let's focus on Colour From the Dark.  Picture it - Italy, 1943.  In the rolling farm country, Pietro (Michael Seal) with his wife Lucia (Debbie Rochon) and her sister Alice (Marysia Kay) live a hard but happy life working the land.  Brother Luigi (Emmett Scanlan) is off fighting the war and sorely missed.  Their only neighbor is Giovanni (Gerry Shanahan) and his granddaughter Anna (Eleanor James).  One day, Pietro is poking around his well with a long stick.  It catches on something, he yanks, then bubbles and stink and a funky mist.  This oddness is ignored for reasons passing understanding.  The next day, newly planted veggies are fully ripened and huge, Pietro's gimp leg is miraculously healed, and Alice, who is more than a little weird, speaks for the first time in years.  So everything's sunshine and roses, yes?  Um, no.  Soon thereafter, the plants all rot, everyone starts having waking nightmares, and Lucia becomes possessed by whatever was freed from the well.  Pietro locks her up, brings in a priest, Lucia kills the priest, then kills Alice, and when Luigi returns home unexpectedly, kills him, too.  Lucia withers and dies like the plants, the evil takes over Pietro who kills Giovanni.  Anna finds her grandfather but then Alice, resurrected by the evil, comes to kill her.  So not what you'd call a feel-good film for the whole family, then.

As you may imagine, there are a number of problems.  First and foremost is the fact that while it's ostensibly an Italian film (it was made in Italy), everyone speaks English, most with a British accent.  The man playing Giovanni has what I believe is an Irish accent (?!?).  Then there's a subplot concerning Teresa (Alessandra Guerzoni), a Jew Anna has been hiding from the Nazis.  What's that got to do with the price of tea in China or more to the point, the evil from the well?  Nothing, as far as I can tell.  Fleshed out, the subplot could have given the movie a much needed shot of non-suckiness.  And why the hell did Lucia run into the middle of a corn field to bury a crucifix when later on, all the crucifixes in the house melt anyway?  This isn't the only scene that will make you go, "Huh?" and want to throw heavy things at your TV.  As for the evil...what is it?  Well, the attempted exorcism was an colossal failure so probably not the devil or a demon from Christian lore.  It's never made clear.  In the final examination, I realized I simply didn't care.  I did care that the filmmakers couldn't be bothered to think up a proper climax.  Lazy twits. 


Acting:  Guerzoni as Teresa gives the best performance.  Too bad she was on screen for like two minutes.  Seal as Pietro acts as if he's doing summer stock.  Rochon as Lucia is all right, if not a little manic.  Kay as Alice is...uh...goofy.  Hard to explain. 
Story:  H.P. Lovecraft, ancient evil, and a little bit of zombie action.  Can't complain.
Direction:  I can't describe it.  Just...boring.
Production Values:  Giving credit where it's due, the cinemetography is pretty groovy.  The shots with the moon are almost inspired.  The sound is my only major complaint.  Tinny.  With a budget of just $100,000, though, the film doesn't look too bad. 
Gore/FX:  Quite a bit of blood.  It approaches the realm of comic but doesn't cross the line.  The decomposing bodies are impressively gross. 
Scares:  Again, with the credit is due thing.  The first shot of the film damn near made me swallow my tongue.  If you don't jump, you're taking too many drugs.  Beyond that, there are one, maybe two scares worth mentioning. 
Ending:  Oh, it's stupid as hell. 
Verdict:  Should you see Colour From the Dark?  If there's something else you want to do for an hour and a half, like watch your toenails grow, I say go for it. 

Rating:  2 out of 5

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