Sunday, April 8, 2007

Masters of Horror - Pro-Life (2006)

In the second season of Masters of Horror, John Carpenter returns with Pro-Life, wielding mixed results. Carpenter has chosen to tackle the controversial issue of abortion, but the story of Pro-Life is mildly entertaining at best.

Fifteen-year-old Angelique is running from something in the woods when she suddenly emerges onto the road and is nearly hit by two abortion clinic doctors. They want to make sure she is ok, so they take her into the guarded clinic. Little do they know Angelique is the daughter of pro-life supporter Dwayne Burcell, who shows up just a few minutes after Angelique is taken into the clinic. The doctors soon find out that Angelique is pregnant and that she desperately wants an abortion. Beyond the guarded clinic gates, Dwayne impatiently waits, demanding his daughter be taken out of their slaughterhouse. The pressure mounts when the doctors discover that Angelique’s baby is developing at an accelerated rate and is violent. Dwayne and his three sons storm the clinic with guns to retrieve Angelique and protect the baby on what they believe is a mission from God. Everyone might have bigger problems to deal with, though, as Angelique goes into labor and delivers a baby spawned in hell…

I was expecting a lot on the social commentary front, but Pro-Life seemed to be on the fence with the whole abortion issue. Its focus was more on presenting specific characters than presenting a fully formed opinion on abortion. Those interested in more of a socially conscious movie won’t get much here, though they could read deeper into it than I have. I was hoping for another creepy Carpenter Masters of Horror episode like last season’s Cigarette Burns, which I thought was one of the best, but was sadly disappointed.

The story doesn’t hold much tension or scares, but instead focuses on the siege aspect of the Burcell’s breaking into the clinic. I found this a little boring and the gunfire got old fast. You can only see so many heads blown off before it becomes dull. The torture sequence with one of the doctors was pretty cringe-inducing, but the rest of the movie just got silly from there. Everything seemed to go downhill with the birth of the demon baby and I lost interest fast.

The acting was ok, but there were no great performances. Ron Perlman’s performance as Dwayne Burcell came off as flat and uninteresting, which was a pity. Caitlin Wachs did a good job as the scared and desperate Angelique Burcell, but she overacted in some parts. Mark Feuerstein as one of more familiar faces in the cast did a competent job, but he quickly got lost towards the end. No one performance really stood out in this episode. In defense of the actors, the dialogue really wasn’t that great and the story was pretty forgettable.

What really killed the episode for me was the ending. It seemed overly hokey and while the monster effects were passable, I think they could have been much better. It was also anticlimactic and resolved a little too quickly for my taste.

All in all, Pro-Life was a pretty unremarkable episode in the Masters of Horror series that suffers greatly from its lack of tension and suspense. I’d pass on this one…

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