Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Wicked Business (2009)

The biggest problem indie filmmakers have? They don’t know how to construct a horror film! Sure, they’ve seen enough films to know the main components of a film, but they don’t know how to put those pieces together. When I received Wicked Business, it promised “a mix between The Office, Final Destination and 24.” Problem is, filmmaker Michael Evanichko just doesn’t know how to tell a story and the end result is that Wicked Business is a dull film that bears little to no resemblance to the three titles mentioned above.

The film is about a group of employees at a debt collection agency who all receive a mysterious death curse in the mail. One-by-one, they begin to die in ways that appear accidental. Can the remaining few figure out who put the curse on them and how to break it before it is too late?

First off, the filmmakers’ claim that Wicked Business is similar to The Office, but there is little to no humor within the film. The only resemblance is that the characters work crappy cubicle jobs. And I don’t understand the claimed resemblance to 24 at all except for the unnecessary use of split-screens. The most accurate comparison would be to Final Destination, but even that doesn’t quite add up because unlike in Final Destination, the deaths in Wicked Business aren’t all that memorable or gruesome.

Now that I’ve kvetched about the claims about the film, I want to address the main problem with it…the storyline and how it is told on film. From the drawn-out introduction that does nothing to pique your interest in the story to the repetitive conversations between underdeveloped characters to the lackluster ending, the film is just a snoozefest and could have benefited from some heavy-handed editing. There definitely wasn’t enough of a story here to make a feature-length film and I think it could have been much more effective had it been a short film.

Writer Michael Evanichko, who also directed, failed to create any suspense and the pacing was excruciatingly slow. The characters kept talking about the same things over and over (like asking, “should we go to the police?” about a million times – and even when they should have gone they didn’t) as well as discussing inane things that had nothing to do with moving the story along. Worse still, the film felt more of like a drama and lacked horror and suspense. There were only a few kills (with none of them being especially memorable, though the gore was decent) and the most interesting aspect of the film, the death curse, was only vaguely discussed at the very end of the film.

The direction by Evanichko was pretty much point-and-shoot and its lack of pizazz only added to the dullness of the film. Keep in mind, the direction is competent, but it just lacks charisma that should draw you into the movie. Something interesting that was done in the film was to add split/multi-screens, but I found these unnecessary in the context and even distracting. The split-screens only showed characters doing mundane things instead of using them to create tension or suspense, so they were pretty much wasted.

Speaking of the characters, they lacked definition and weren’t even properly introduced to the audience. In the beginning I could hardly distinguish who the main protagonists were or who I was supposed to be rooting for. As the film progressed, I never really felt a connection with the characters and so I didn’t care what happened to them. The actors all did a competent job with what they had to work with, but they all lacked a spark and none of them really grabbed my attention.

Wicked Business sounded like a cool concept, but without proper storytelling technique it just fails to deliver and instead put me to sleep. The death curse aspect of the film, which I believe was its most interesting idea, is pushed aside until the very end in favor of showing boring characters yakking away. There is no suspense, no tension, no scares and no sympathy for any of the characters. The story just feels like it was constructed sloppily and because of this the 90 minute film feels like it goes on and on and on, something you never want to experience while watching a film.

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