AFTER DARK HORRORFEST III: 8 FILMS TO DIE FOR
 


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STUDIO: Lions Gate
MSRP: $112.99
RATED: R











 

The Pitch

The annual independent horror festival returns for 2009 with a new octet of films.

Reviewed in the final installment: Perkins 14 and The Broken.



Trite tub shot: more innovative than mirrors


   
The Broken

The Humans

Cast: Lena Headey, Richard Jenkins

Director: Sean Ellis


The Nutshell

After a suspicious encounter with a broken mirror during a family dinner, successful radiologist Gina (Headey) spots what looks like her own brooding doppleganger roaming the streets of London. In a mad dash to track down the mysterious figure, she’s involved in a near fatal auto collision. As she’s recovering from the memory-scrambling accident, friends, family, and doctors alike have a hard time believing her doppleganger story, leading her on a quest to uncover the truth about the ominous mirrorfolk.

Finally, a movie that out-mirrors Mirrors!


Lazy eye: more disturbing than mirrors


The Lowdown

Mirror, mirror, on the wall: what’s the least imaginative horror device in the whole universe? That’s right, it’s mirrors. No amount of jaw damage or freaky-medicine-cabinet closings can change the fact that unless you have a very specific phobia, mirrors aren’t very frightening. Bloody Mary games were scary during childhood, but that was mostly because of the dark – and even then, kids weren’t afraid of their own evil dopplegangers reaching through the mirror and coming to eat them.

Much like Mirrors, The Broken is yet another film that insists on tapping into the nonexistent fear of reflective surfaces. It’s a hackneyed Outer Limits – nay, Goosebumps story device that goes every place you’d suspect: for reasons unknown, mirror ghouls are trying to assume the identities of Gina and her family, resulting in a loosely knit montage of mirror scares. Unfortunately, the mirror scares here aren’t creative, fun, or even remotely gory; there’s hardly a drop of blood throughout the entire running time, which is too bad, since gore would have been a welcome respite in a film that takes itself so seriously.




Mandrool: more unnerving than mirrors


Visually, The Broken’s washed out blues and grays service the stoic script, and there are some really gorgeous establishing shots of London, but it suffers from a drab, clinical blandness that does more harm than good. There’s no synergy between the story and the visuals, so the film’s pretty pictures never add up to much. There’s a final twist in the film’s closing sequence, but it won’t be a surprise to attentive viewers.

Writer/Director Sean Ellis’ Cashback was visually distinctive, well written, and imaginative. The Broken is none of these. Worst of all, the movie wastes Richard Jenkins.

The Package

Bonus Features include a reel of Miss Horrorfest audition tapes. By and large, these are far more disturbing than any of the Horrorfest films this year. A decent Dolby 3/2.1 track and better than average video make the experience a little more palatable.

Would this have made for a better 30 minute Tales From the Crypt episode:

No. Fans of Goosebumps would cluck their tongues at this.





2 out of 10





Perkins’ 14


The Humans

Patrick O’Kane, Richard Brake

Director: Craig Singer


The Nutshell

As a child, Robert Perkins was driven insane when his family was killed by a psychopath. Convinced that the killer would return once again, Perkins brainwashes a small army of followers to protect him from harm – and to kill for him, for some reason. Sheriff Dwayne Hopper stands in his way.


GMMMPFHHHH


The Lowdown

Some random notes scribbled to my notepad while watching Perkins’ 14:

No idea why. Nearly unwatchable.

Why does Sheriff act like a pedo around daughter? During breakfast, no less?

WHAT IS HAPPENING WHY AM I WATCHING THIS

The notes end apruptly.
 


FFFFNURRRRR

Less a movie and more a horrible internet experiment, Perkins’ 14 was the result of the web project at Massify.com: writers would upload story concepts into one pile and actors would submit audition tapes into the other, and maybe a smart parrot would pick snippets from each pile and dump them together into some sort of bird-friendly editing tool. The result almost needs to be seen to be believed. Note the emphasis on almost, because please don’t see this.

At best, it’s incoherent. The weirdly lecherous Sheriff character is probably more disturbing than the titular psycho, which makes it a hard to empathize with him. The film stumbles from scene to scene, the characters are poorly acted, and none of the dialogue sounds natural. Perkins’ 14 is clearly the “community effort” film in the set, but goodwill can’t relieve the stench of horrible failure – it’s filmmaking by committee in the worst sense imaginable. I had to turn it off several times.


MMMMMOUTH

The Package


NO PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME PUT THE DVD BACK IN THE PLAYER TO CHECK THIS.

Bonus Features include trailers and a short featurette. There’s nothing much more here worth nothing beyond a standard 3/2.1 audio and a reasonably good SD video presentation.

Would this have made for a better 30 minute Tales From the Crypt episode:

NOOOOOOOOO.


1 out of 10