Cutter’s Way (1981) – Movie Review

Cutter’s Way, directed by Ivan Passer, is a decent enough film that presses some interesting ideas, however, one can’t help but feel that it could have been something more. The acting, cinematography, direction and score are all good, but it’s the script that weighs everything down, and it’s not even a bad script, just one laden with numerous flaws.

The movie starts with Rick Bone, played by a pre-“Dude” Jeff Bridges, living the cushy lifestyle until witnessing the murderer of a teenage girl as he was dumping the body, however, after leaving his car after it breaks down by where the body is found he becomes the prime suspect of the homicide. Soon, Rick recognizes the murderer in the parade–J.J. Cord (Stephen Elliot,) a rich oil tycoon. Rick’s friend, an alcoholic and physically-disabled Vietnam vet named Alex Cutter (John Heard) prompts Rick to inform the police that Cord was the one who dumped the body, but Rick is reluctant to, possibly because he fears endangering his lifestyle if Cord comes after him. As a result, Cutter decides, along with the victim’s sister Valerie Duran (Ann Dusenberry) to try to blackmail Cord, believing that if Cord pays-up it would be an admission of guilt and Cutter will bring this information to the police. Of course, things don’t go as smoothly as planned and Rick Bone’s life becomes in jeopardy.

While the movie is classified as a “thriller” and the plot reflects this, the center of the movie is Rick’s relationship with Alex and his wife (Lisa Eichhorn). Rick, like Alex, is a liberal but unlike Alex is lazy and more adamant about maintaining his easy lifestyle. Rick is obviously correct in believing that blackmailing a wealthy oil tycoon is a terrible idea, but he offers no other solution and would much rather keep quiet, allowing an evil to go unresolved. Even after he recognizes Cord as the guy he saw the night of the murder he quickly changes the story, insisting on the possibility that he was wrong. Throughout the film Rick denies the obvious while Alex cuts through the B.S. However, Alex is a violent, emotionally-disturbed but driven man whose obsessed with enacting “justice”. To Alex, Cord represents the evil, rich man who eludes justice while everyone else is massacred in the trenches. The scenes where Rick and Alex argue over the morality of their decisions constitute the best the movie has to offer for they are the most intellectually intriguing as well as the best-acted and most memorable.

Some of the drama also takes place between Rick and Alex’s wife who is lonely. Alex and his wife’s relationship is quite damaged as their sex life has dwindled into nothing (due to the pain of Alex’s wounds–the left side of his body is missing an eye, a forearm and leg,) and they both cannot emotionally deal with one another thanks to Alex’s drunkennes. Rick and Alex’s wife are obviously smitten with one another, or at least lust after one another, however Alex’s wife continually denies Rick’s advancements. While some of these scenes are good they don’t carry as much as the aforementioned scenes with Rick and Alex. And the scenes where Rick finally does become intimate with her drag on for way too long. One could argue that their sex scene has to go on and on in order to capture the discomfort Alex’s wife has in betraying her husband, but the surrounding scenes with the two (the minutes before and after they have sex) are far too bloated and plod along ever so slowly.

Another flaw comes with Rick’s character and his not going to the police to tell them about seeing Cord. Even though he wants to protect himself I just couldn’t by his possible reasoning for not claiming that he witnessed Cord. It just didn’t seem all that believable that he wouldn’t want to say anything because the audience isn’t given enough reason behind his motivations. This reeks of the screenwriter trying to push the plot forward by disregarding reality, which is kind of frustrating to watch.

But the script’s greatest problem comes at the end (warning: spoilers! skip this paragraph and the next if you don’t like spoilers!!!) At the end, after Alex has blackmailed Cord, Cord fucking burns his house down with his wife in it. Rick suggests that maybe his wife burned the house down on her own after Rick left her alone (he basically admits to having an affair to Alex at this point,) but it’s obvious that Rick is just lying to Alex and himself for it’s apparent that Cord was responsible. So, Rick and Alex infiltrate a party being held at Cord’s mansion. Rick thinks that Alex is just going to negotiate with him, but then he learns that Alex is going to straight-up murder the dude. This leads into a few chases with Cord’s security chasing Alex and Rick around. Rick is caught and is confronted by Cord (the first time he is shown up close and speaks) while Alex commandeers a horse from Cord’s stable. This is where the movie decides to drop right off the cliff. Alex rides along the side of the pool (or I should say, a stuntman wearing the world’s worst hairpiece) and then launches himself through Cord’s office window where Rick and Cord are. This scene is so over-the-top, doesn’t fit with the rest of the film’s tone and borders on comedic–if it were in another film it would have been amazing, but here it’s just jarring. I know Alex is supposed to be self-destructive and obsessive and this scene was supposed to culminate with all of that, but come on!

Then Rick goes to tend to Alex, but Alex dies due to the broken glass (I guess) after handing him the gun. Rick looks up and fires in Cord’s direction (Cord is shot off-screen). The End. What’s weird about all this is how the ending is both over-the-top nonsense and anti-climatic at the same time, what with Alex’s shenanigans and Rick just plainly shooting Cord (we don’t even get to see Cord dying!) One of my friends, whom I was watching the film with, came-up with an even better ending where there’s ambiguity as to whether Cord really was the killer, yet Alex murders him anyway out of spite for what he represents, not for what definitely did, and then the aftermath. This would have been a more poetic ending and would have also fit better with the movie’s themes, but the filmmakers seemed like they didn’t know how the end the movie so they just ended it…with that, nearly ruining what could have been something pretty good.

Unfortunately, Cutter’s Way, is another film that could have been so much more, but it’s still pretty decent. However, it still contains some depth which makes it a more engaging watch than the fucking schlock that Hollywood is pumping out these days like Think Like a Man Too! Who wants to see that bunch of slop! Am I right?!? Guys?!?!

Oh wait, there’s this one scene I forgot to mention. Early on in the movie, Alex is super-drunk and plows another car out of his driveway, pushing it into his neighbor’s front lawn. The neighbors are, predictably, furious at such hooliganry and call the cops. While the cops come Alex heads back into his house and drinks some mouthwash (this shows how smart Alex is–he is masking his breathe whilst still sating his alcohol addiction!) He comes out and talks to the police officer in the most civil way possible, but in a way that’s entirely believable. The cop sympathizes with Alex and only writes him off a ticket for an expired license. This scene is great because it shows that, despite his convictions, Alex is a hypocrite for he doesn’t take responsibility for a crime he committed, choosing to weasel his way out instead. Despite his pursuing of justice he is more interested in seeking revenge–the man is entirely selfish, even though the audience can sympathize with him, just like the cop.

So I guess I would recommend this movie, despite its being overlong, for the few scenes that contain some great depth and dialogue.

247 °F (2011) – Movie Review

247 °F, directed by Levan Bakhira and Beqa Jguburia, is one of those movies that had the potential to be an incredibly stupid B-movie. After learning the premise of the film, a suspense thriller about three people getting trapped in a sauna, I anticipated the movie to be complete dreck. Fortunately, the film turned out to be actually decent, with some nice suspense and attempts at characterization.

The first twenty minutes are dedicated to boring expository scenes necessary to establish what needs to be established: Jenna (played by Scout Taylor-Compton) survives a car accident that killed her boyfriend. Three years later she is still traumatized, depressive and taking pills. To help push her out of her bubble a friend Renee (Christina Ulloa) insists that she stay with her and her boyfriend, Michael (Michael Copon) and his friend Ian (Travis Van Winkle) who takes an interest in Jenna, in a cabin for a weekend getaway. The cabin is owned by Ian’s cool uncle Wade (Tyler Mane) who smokes pot and lives a drive away. As Renee’s and Michael’s relationship starts turning sour due to Michael getting more and more wasted, Ian tries to flirt and converse with the reluctant Jenna. They drink, smoke weed, etc. and talk about going to a party that’s nearby. These scenes, while kind of dull, are actually alright compared to similar films as the writing and acting is better than average. At this point I was somewhat surprised but was just waiting for it all to start going downhill.

So they soon decide to check out the gas-powered sauna in the cabin that Ian’s pot-smoking uncle built. This is where I was expecting the movie to falter in some terrible schlock that I can laugh at. Eventually, after the drunk Michael has a fight with Renee he leaves the three who stay and sizzle in the sauna. Moments later, Ian tries to open the door but seems to be unable to. They quickly realize that they are trapped in what is perhaps the world’s most poorly-built sauna as there is no way to shut-off the heat from the inside. What makes 247 °F better than most films of its genres (and how it exceeded my expectations) is how the characters handle the situation. Ian, as established before, is actually quite well-read and seemingly intelligent as he tries to assess their situation without panicking (at least at first.) The two others that are trapped as well, Jenna and Renee, suggest that they break the tiny window, but Ian points out that the cool air that would come in as a result might be detected by the sauna’s thermostat and the heat will continue to rise within the sauna. But he eventually breaks the glass so that they could get more air and so that Ian can try to figure out if they can somehow move whatever’s blocking the sauna door. So what makes this particular movie stand out is that the characters aren’t completely stupid and thus annoying to watch. However, I wondered why Ian didn’t just take the heating rocks out, either with the towels or the wooden spoon, from the wire basket and let them cool, then block the gas valve. Some posters on the Imdb forums even thought of this as well, but maybe when one is in that kind of situation, mentally debilitated by the increasing heat, it’s understandable to be unable to think of a reasonable solution. Regardless, it’s still refreshing to see a movie that doesn’t try to build its suspense and horror from the dumb actions of its characters.

Another thing that works to the film’s advantage is that all of the film’s drama and conflict seems to be the result of human fallibility, rather than from some sinister force, psychosis, or madness. From Ian’s uncertainty as to whether removing the sauna’s thermostat is a good idea or not, to Michael’s accidentally jamming the door, and to Wade for thinking he can build a sauna on his own. Another thing that is also interesting is Ian flipping-out toward the end of the film as opposed to Jenna who becomes the more level-headed one in the moment. One would expect Jenna to be mentally worse than Ian, who was the most rational for a while, in that situation. This sort of reminds me of Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia where the mentally unstable character is better able to rationally deal with incoming doom than her sister, who before was the more “normal” character. But a slight problem does arise out of this, as the audience isn’t surprised (and were probably expecting) Jenna to become the “hero”. This is like in Jack the Reaper where the audience just knows that the girl who was molested by her father would survive. I should also mention that when Ian finally does go nuts it ends up being pretty fucking hilarious, rather than terrifying.

So yeah…not a bad film. Not great by any means as there are some scenes that seem to drag, killing some of the tension, but still, I was sweating so much that it made my seat wet! Get it? Because the movie’s about a sauna. So the “reveal” that Michael was the one that trapped the other characters in a stove, and unintentionally, was supposed to be a surprise. But when Renee and Michael are arguing and Michael stumbles away I already knew that he was the one that was going to cause all the shit, and that he wasn’t expecting to as well because there would be little reason for him to block the door on purpose even though he was pissed-off and disappointed by his girlfriend. Other than that the movie is alright. Did I mention it’s based on true events? That’s pretty crazy ain’t it, except for the minor deviations from reality, like the fact that the sauna was actually electric-powered and that they were able to switch off the heat. But other than that this shit really happened!

247 °F is a decent B-movie that might be worth watching if nothing else is on or if you’re hankering for something suspenseful that isn’t total garbage. But be warned, the characters won’t be the only ones sweating! Wait, I already used that joke. Shit. Um…you’ll have a blistering good time! Yep, that’ll do just fine.

Antichrist (2009) – Movie Review

Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist contains a simple story: in the aftermath of their child’s death, a therapist (Willem Dafoe) decides to help treat his depressed wife (Charlotte Gainsbourg) by spending some time in an isolated cabin where she is to confront her fear of the woods. However, not everything goes to plan as the wife slips further into insanity and drills a hole in William Dafoe’s leg. Despite the simplicity of the plot, the movie is rife with religious and spiritual symbolism, imagery as well as graphic nudity and sex. All of these elements would have been fine if they had been employed in service of storytelling, instead the audience is subject to a film that seems to try to confide in the audience its import yet is confused as to what it is actually trying to say, save that the director is a pretentious nut.

Don’t get me wrong, this is an intriguing film, but it’s also a mess. There were a number of opportunities that Lars Von Trier’s screenplay could have taken advantage of. The most interesting thing about the film isn’t the graphic sex nor the disturbing violence or the ideas it tries to pass-off as being deep, but the two central characters. Lars Von Trier could have written the characters and just let them muddle in their relationship and let the symbolism and moments pour out organically, and it seems that was what he was going for at first, but around halfway through the movie everything starts to go off the rails.

The film itself is divided into four chapters (chapter one-“Grief”, two-“Pain”, three-“Despair”, four-“The Three Beggars”) which are sandwiched between two black-and-white sequences. The intro sequence is beautifully composed in slow-motion and shows the couple having sex while their child frees himself from his crib and walks out the window to marvel at the snow. Scenes like this show-off one of the strengths of the film which lies in the cinematography, by Anthony Dod Mantle. There are a few other scenes and images that are excellently crafted, but they are unfortunately inter-cut with drawn-out periods of boredom.

Sometimes the symbolism is either over-wrought or near nonsensical, but there are some visuals that work. At the end of the first chapter, William Dafoe’s character witnesses a deer in the woods, but as the camera gets the closer we see a dead newborn hanging from it, then we look back and see the character’s face. This works for it not only acts as possible foreshadowing, but also reveals something about Dafoe’s character.

But then there are some attempts of symbolism that aren’t as successful, like in a ridiculous scene where Gainsbourg’s character, after Dafoe’s character refused to hit her while having sex, is running outside in the nude while its dark and then starts masturbating the bottom of a tree. She is suddenly slapped by her husband and then resume copulating underneath the tree, but as the camera pans up we see human limbs from bodies trapped underneath the roots of the tree. It’s an interesting image that sticks in the mind, but it’s both obvious and confusing given the rest of the film. It’s already bad enough that the area of woods is called “Eden” but then to have the couple have sex underneath the tree… but what’s worst is that, instead of reinforcing some sort of point about humanity or religion, it only muddies the movie up thematically. There’s other spiritual and religious symbolism in the film, but the problem is that they just seem thrown in there as a way to compensate for the script’s shallowness. It’s almost as if by juxtaposing graphic sex and obvious religious symbolism Lars Von Trier was hoping that some sort of meaning would coalescence  within the viewers’ mind.

The movie seems to be trying to be a critique on humanity using religious symbolism, but it’s sometimes difficult to say what the actual critique is other than that humanity plain sucks. It seems to be trying to convey something deep but ends up confused, nearly making the whole film pointless to watch. It probably would have been better, it seemed, if Lars Von Trier focused instead on the couple’s relationship and what they represent, mainly emotionalism versus rationalism and how each approaches grief.

After their child dies, the wife is hospitalized for a month after fainting. The husband, who’s a therapist, quickly takes control of the situation by suggesting that she should not take the prescribed dosage her doctor recommends, stating that the feeling of grief is natural. When they’re both back at their home he begins to treat her like one of his patients. But she calls him out on this and his pompousness. One can’t help agree with her while also realizing that her comments are also stemming from her own resentment toward her husband for both being distant in the past as well as being well-composed during this situation while she’s an emotional trainwreck. However, the viewer might also suspect, at least from the beginning, that the husband may be treating her as a way for him not to deal with his own emotions. She becomes suicidal and even more depressed as she bangs her head against the rim of the toilet and he finds her. When she tells him that her biggest fear is the woods of “Eden,” but instead of getting her to an institution, in his arrogance, he decides that the two of them should go there. This is a good set-up for an interesting character study and drama, and while Lars Von Trier lets the conflict of the movie grow from this, he does so unrealistically. This is evidenced by how, at the end, the wife becomes completely crazed while he a stereotypical, condescending psychologist spouting nonsense. Lars Von Trier is comfortable going to easy route and trying to disturb and compel the audience rather than presenting a believable story.

Apparently this movie ignited controversy when it came out, which I can believe. In the opening sequence we’re shown penetration and violent sex scenes. Either would have been okay if it were service to revealing some (no pun intended) about the characters. The violent sex scenes sort of do this, but toward the end of the movie it becomes gratuitous. But the main problem with the movie is its pretentiousness. While the movie sets-up some of the sex scenes as a way to show the ugly side of humanity it ends up being apparent that Lars Von Trier is just trying to shock the audience with violence and bizarre psycho-sexual bull and hoping that the movie would just coast on that as the audience isn’t thinking too hard if anything is coherent or not.

It’s a shame that this movie isn’t better. I’ve only seen one other Lars Von Trier movie, Melancholia, which I actually thought was pretty decent where all the symbols and information in the movie was all necessary. See, good symbolism is all about having a point and conveying that point or idea to the audience in an original way that’ll remain in the audience’s mind for a while. While some of the images found in Antichrist has some impact they still needed some idea to hang from in order to truly work.

While the script isn’t good for the reasons I’ve mentioned, the other aspects of the movie are actually pretty good. The best thing about Antichrist is the cinematography, but the sound editing and score also deserve some attention as they help heighten some of the disturbing things in the movie, making them more effective. The acting is also fine, especially by William Dafoe, but it’s a shame that they didn’t have better material. As great as some of the technical aspects are, everything ends up being dragged down by the lousy script. If it weren’t for the acting and cinematography this movie would have been terrible and near-unwatchable. Whatever, I guess it’s time to watch Nymphomaniac now.

Reeker (2005) – Movie Review

Hey, more schlock! This time I watched a movie called Reeker, another mediocre genre film that no one cares about. The movie is about five college students who become stranded in a seemingly deserted town where they experience a pungent odor, visions of dead people, disembowelments and Michael Ironside. The movie was directed by Dave Payne who went on to direct such memorable classics as No Man’s Land: The Rise of Reeker (the prequel to Reeker that I will never watch) and Fred.

If you couldn’t tell from my sardonic tone then let me say that I wasn’t too fond of this film. It’s basically as middle of the road as you can get with horror flicks. Its opening scene is of a group of people (here, a mother, father and son) that aren’t the main characters. The viewer already knows that they’re either going to die or something completely messed-up is about to happen to them, because all horror films need an opening sequence to establish the mood as well as hook the audience in as soon as possible before they start spending a lot of time establishing the main group of characters. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this approach, but in Reeker the formula is rather apparent; this could have been circumvented if the opening were stronger, but it’s rather standard stuff. The characters do a couple of stupid things in order to create suspense, there’s some CGI blood and gore and it ends on a disturbing image–cue the credits. While the opening does an okay job of making the audience interested it’s rather cheesy, going from slightly humorous (unintentionally) to somewhat disturbing back to a weak attempt at scaring the audience.

The main characters are standard stuff; they’re not off-the-rack Breakfast Club stereotypes, but they’re close. There’s the stoner, nicknamed Trip (Scott Whyte,) his more level-headed friend Nelson (Derek Richardson,) Nelson’s girlfriend Cookie (Arielle Kebbel,) a blind guy with a dry sense of humor Jack (Devon Gummersall) and the accented Gretchen (Tina Illman.) The dialogue between the characters is generally believable, with the exception of the cliches spouted by Jack, but they’re also rather flat and uninteresting. Maybe it’s okay considering that this is a horror movie and all that is needed is just enough for the audience to care for the characters somewhat, but other than Trip (who almost ends up being the hero towards the end) I wasn’t involved in the fates of the other characters. It’s clear that Payne wanted us to empathize with the characters, it’s just that the dialogue and interactions are just too average and the acting ranges from being good to bad, never enough the elevate the material to where it needs to be. Oh, and Michael Ironside is in it as a guy searching for his missing wife, but he doesn’t do much before he croaks (Spoiler!)

Plot-wise, the movie isn’t distinct. There are a few jump-scares, but fortunately they are scarce. Perhaps the most unique thing plot-wise is the subplot with Trip’s dealer, Radford (Eric Mabius) chasing after him after Trip steals some drugs. Also, from the movie’s blurb, it describes the film as being about a group of students being terrorized by a foul odor. I was going into the movie expecting the students threatened by a large gaseous entity, and in the film I think they mention that they’re going to Area 52, so I was expecting (hoping) that they would be contending with aliens. Payne might have been trying to subvert expectations by going a different route, but the end result is still the same, mainly a group of kids getting killed at night. All the cliches are here, a couple are having sex, there’s no cellphone reception, they can’t go anywhere because their gas line had been cut, they do things no sane person would do if they shared the same situation, etc. Are there any interesting deaths? Not really, but there’s one somewhat original kill where one of the characters is killed in an outhouse, but that scene goes on too long anyway and loses some of its impact. And like other films of this ilk, there is a twist ending that re-contextualizes everything. The ending tries to “blow your mind” and it does explain many of the things that happen, but it’s still a rather disappointing explanation; mainly because it’s a cop-out that’s been done numerous times before and when you see it you’ll go “Oh really, they did that! Give me a break!” Not exactly the intended reaction. Funny enough, it shares pretty much the same ending as Jack the Reaper, another movie I reviewed. I can’t tell which picture employed the twist better nor do I really want to give it much thought.

You might be wondering why I even bother watching such schlock. I mean, these movies are supposed to suck, right? You shouldn’t expect Shakespeare. Don’t get me wrong, I was mildly entertained with the film, but I mainly watch these movies in the hopes that I come across a neglected gem, or in the very least, be pleasantly surprised. It’s disappointing that most of these movies (or most movies in general) are pretty much culled from the same mush. You can argue that it’s just a horror movie and that it doesn’t need to defy formula. This is true for Reeker could have worked, even with much of the same elements, if some of the other technical aspects were beefed up, like the acting and directing and cinematography. But I would also say that a better guarantee for success lies in a better script. I’m reminded about how most death metal bands sound pretty much the same, and the result is that a potentially distressing experience ends-up amounting to hollow noise for most death-metal bands follow the same basic template, thus lessening that particular template’s effectiveness. There are some attempts at uniqueness in Reeker, like the whole visible odor thing that emits from the monster (which by-the-way actually looks kind of cool). The movie also tries to subvert some cliches to mess with the viewer’s expectations as well as attempts at humor, but the subversions are mostly old-hat and the humor is stale.

Overall, I would give Reeker a mild recommendation if you like horror and its familiar tropes and want a simple diversion from the everyday. Maybe next time I’ll uncover that schlock masterpiece, buried underneath the landfill.

Shadow People (2013) – Movie Review

Like Jack the Reaper, this is a horror movie with a potentially interesting premise but instead settles for mediocrity; at least Shadow People isn’t nearly as bad as Jack the Reaper but it is also a dull ride. The main problem is with Matthew Arnold’s screenplay (he also directed.) When reading a synopsis for the movie one would expect something more intriguing, but Arnold unfortunately doesn’t do anything with the ideas present in the film and instead presents a mostly-standard, competently-made horror/thriller. 

The movie is about Charlie Crowe (Dallas Roberts,) a radio talk show host discussing topics relating to the paranormal. In contrast to the callers he receives on his show Crowe is a skeptic. But he soon gets involved investigating the suspicious death of one of his callers whose paranoia about shadowy creatures that kill during the night might be justified. From here the movie gets predictable for we know that Crowe is destined to become a believer and soon be obsessed by what he discovers about the “Shadow People” as he probes deeper into the conspiracy. There are also other familiar tropes such as the fact that Crowe is divorced and has a hard time connecting with his son. Such bland characterization may have worked if it were presented more interestingly to the viewer, same with the entire plot, it also doesn’t help that Roberts simply isn’t a good actor. It’s good that he doesn’t feel the need to over-emote, but at the same time he doesn’t seem to be his character but rather vacantly occupy his role. While this approach may have been desired for the character is supposed to be detached but it doesn’t really work. 

Perhaps the most unique element about the film is that the bulk of the action is seemingly recreated, as in the film implies that the events have actually happened and that the movie mostly consists of reenactments as if this is an extended episode of a show on Discovery or the History Channel. We get “real-life” footage of Charlie Crowe (who looks nothing like the actor in the reenactment) as well as talking-heads and interviews with witnesses. Of course these sections are fictional as well but are purposely presented as real in order to ground the events of the film in real-life, thus making the phenomena of “shadow people” in the realm of possibility. This is an interesting gimmick and it reminds me of movies like Paranormal Activity or various horror movies that introduce themselves with a “Based on a True Story” disclaimer. These sections are also done well and the acting is actually pretty decent and believable. Unfortunately, they are spliced within the film haphazardly, either letting long stretches of time go without a real-life witness confirming the events, or stuffing a bunch of footage and information into one area with little reason. 

The other technical aspects such as the camerawork aren’t bad, but aren’t good either and don’t exactly illicit much in the scare department unless you’re easily frightened by shadows. The titular baddies themselves are CGI creations and I doubt they would inspire much more than a yawn from the viewer. Perhaps the most successful and effective tool used is the lighting which manages to create a creepy atmosphere to the film. 

Overall, this movie isn’t nearly as bad as Jack the Reaper but it is nowhere near good as well. Story-wise it doesn’t deviate too far from the template thus making it too uninteresting and predictable to make it effective in creating a good scare, but if the movie had better cinematography then the movie could have been saved, if only somewhat. The acting, aside from Roberts is all around decent, but nothing great. This is just a below-average horror flick that could have been something greater if Arnold would have done something more with his interesting concept. Meh.