Monday, December 13, 2010
Don't Look Up (2010)
I was a bit wary going into Don’t Look Up as reviews for this flick have been so atrocious. However, it was a lazy night and the trailer had piqued my interest so I decided to give it a looksie…plus, it is available via streaming on Netflix so it made it all that much easier to check out.
Don’t Look Up is actually a remake of the Hideo Nakata (of Ringu fame) film Joyurei and is directed by Fruit Chan (known for the wicked “Dumplings” short in Three…Extremes). This film is Chan’s American debut and I’ve been looking forward to seeing Chan’s next horror piece ever since relishing “Dumplings” so much.
Don’t Look Up is about horror film director Marcus Reed (played by the sexy Australian soap star Reshad Strik) who has intense psychic visions of paranormal events. However, he has found his perfect project to work on next and sets off for Romania where he is to film his big comeback. The film he is shooting is based on an old Romanian folktale about a young girl who promised her first born child to the Devil but was violently killed by villagers before she could fulfill her promise. Her vengeful ghost is said to haunt the decrepit location that Marcus has chosen to shoot his film, the same location where 80 years ago another film crew mysteriously vanished while attempting to shoot a film based on the same legend.
People soon start dying violent, “accidental” deaths as Marcus’ visions intensify. Will his visions help him in stopping the deaths or will they just drive him mad?
Don’t Look Up definitely has that Asian ghost story feel (especially with a few Ringu-inspired scenes involving creepy eyes and flies crawling out of a TV), coupled with plenty of nasty deaths and a few icky scenes. However, the convoluted and confusing plot really drags the film down. It really could have spent a little more time developing the backstory on the Romanian legend (what we get is a couple of paragraphs before the movie starts…lame) and the actual why and how of the supposed “haunting”. By the end, the film tries to clear things up with a “twist”, but certain points still remain unclear. Like what the F was up with the boils/tumors on the neck? Why did certain people go crazy? What exactly was the point with crew members dying? Did the ghost just want revenge or was it searching for a new baby-daddy? And why in the world did Marcus and his crew shoot his film in only one small, grimy room when they had the whole creepy building to use? It looked more of like a stage set than a film set.
It is a pity the plot was such a disjointed mess, since the initial premise showed promise. Sure, we’ve all seen horror films where a film crew is beset by something horrific, but the whole Romanian legend aspect was intriguing…too bad it got so mucked up in the writing and/or editing process.
I was surprised to see several recognizable faces in the film. Eli Roth is in the film for about 5 seconds (even though he is a huge selling point on the DVD cover) as a 1930s director (complete with a cool mustache and snazzy duds) who first tries to film at the cursed location. Then we get Henry Thomas (Red Velvet, Dead Birds) as a level-headed producer and Kevin Corrigan (Pineapple Express, Superbad) as an agitated crew member. The acting overall was fine, despite what other reviews have said. I actually liked the acting choices and thought everyone did a good job in their roles.
As for the special FX, there was some crappy CGI involving flies (they just looked like fuzzy black blobs), but there were also several creepy scenes. One in particular that involves a spontaneous birth is definitely groddy, especially when we see the baby hanging half in and half out of the birth canal as mommy walks toward the camera. Then there are the scenes with the previously mentioned flies, which would have probably been more effective had the CGI looked better. There are people attacked by flies, a body made up of flies, and, my personal fave, flies crawling into people’s eyeballs and eye sockets. Squirm! Then there are the requisite bloody deaths, the only memorable one being when a stage light falls on a crew member, making for a bloody awful head wound! Oh, and let’s not forget when Marcus carves one of those boils/tumors off a creepy old dude. Pretty icky. However, I wouldn’t call it a gorefest by any means, and the body count isn’t all that high.
Don’t Look Up doesn’t really deliver on scares and is overall a messy film full of plot inconsistencies, under-development and holes, but I still found myself kind of enjoying it. No matter how frustrating the plot issues were, the film kept me moderately interested. It would make a good background flick for when you are doing other things, or a good flick to enjoy with a sudsy brew (or two).
The bad reviews on this film are pretty exaggerated…it definitely isn’t the best movie you can choose to watch, but it does have its creepy and gross-out moments and isn’t the “worst movie ever made”. Dude, I’ve seen some pretty horrible films in my time and this one doesn’t even come close to being the worst!
Available on Amazon!