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STUDIO: Phase 4 Films
MSRP: $26.99
RATED: R
RUNNING TIME: 97 min
SPECIAL FEATURES:

    * Director Audio Commentary

    * Deleted Scenes

    * Production Photo Gallery

    * Teaser Trailer

    * Gag Reel

    * Billy’s Creepy Vintage Cartoon


THE HUMANS

Robert Thorne, JD Rudometkin, Bertie Higgins, Jay Wisell, Jasmine Waltz

THE PITCH

I
was going to do a thing about  it being
Saw with less inventive kills and
more overt nepotism. but that reminded me of the part on
The Sopranos
when Christopher was trying to sell everyone on his idiotic idea for

Cleaver
.  The actual pitch meeting for this must have been freakishly similar to that.

THE NUTSHELL

A
psychotic, functionally-omnipotent biker preys on a pair of
functionally-retarded yuppies, forcing them to commit heinous acts to save the women they sorta, mostly tolerate.



They had ignored his repeated warnings that there would be no Hobbit film until they wrote Boromir in.  It was a shame that McKellan had to be the one to take the loss, there was no doubt that fuckers would be getting the message now.


THE LOWDOWN

Horror
movies, particularly cheap, independent ones, have a way of defying criticism. There’s a sizable group of people who simply
dislike the genre and aren’t interested in even its most well-crafted
offerings, while the die-hard genre fans are willing to overlook gaping flaws
in structure and performance as long as there’s a couple genuine scares or
gross-out moments scattered buried within any given 90 minutes. 
Poker Run
splits the difference, however, by being more than crude and
mean-spirited enough to turn off the prudes, while not disturbing or
intentionally stupid enough to score points from the buffs.  It is
appropriately unsparing in its brutality, but the production values are
just a shade too high for the incompetence and unoriginality in other
areas to pass as charming.  It’s an unusual flick in that it may have
benefited from being a bit worse than it is.


The movie hits its strongest
notes before the story even begins, with a brutal rape/power tool
murder that is acceptably bloody and disturbing in its lack of context. 
Problems quickly arise, however, in that once we are introduced to our main
batch of victims, we care less about them than those initial,
anonymous meatbags.  Sympathetic protagonists are not necessarily a
requirement for horror, or drama or comedy for that matter, but it’s a
good default mode of getting the audience invested in the proceedings.


Those
proceedings get off to a slow start as a couple suburban
lawyers, Allan (Rudomentkin, failing to channel Tom Jane) and Bob
(Higgins, failing to channel either Meatloaf or W. Earl Brown as
Meatloaf), who decide to reinvent themselves as weekend warriors. Step
one in this endeavor is to buy a couple of obviously-stolen motorcycles
from a quietly menacing leather-clad thug (Thorne, nobly failing to
channel Sean Bean) and his meth-addled, gibbering chimp of a sidekick
(Wisell, failing).  Step two is convincing their wives to join them on
the eponymous ride.  The pair of fake tits Allan married quickly agrees,
but Bob faces some mild opposition from his missus, who is pushing him
to stop acting like a teenager and have kids in a subplot that in no way
feels like it was written for characters 20 years younger before the
producer/father of the director stepped into the role.  Step three
involves ditching the run to go hang out with the thug and meth-monkey
alone in the desert.  Once Thugmonkey kidnaps the women and drafts
the guys to run murderous errands to get them back, things start getting really
dumb. 



Personally, I would not be so quick to take my wife to party alone with this dude in the middle of the desert.  It has been speculated that this pathological fear of commitment is why I remain unwed.


There’s plenty of stupidity once the script gets into
gear, whether it’s how our main character decides with very little
deliberation that he has a better chance of getting his wife back by
jumping through the insane, murderous biker’s insane, murderous hoops
than informing any authorities, or that the biker’s league of accomplices in
his  abduction/torture ring (the tangible benefits of
which are mostly confined to selling the same two bikes over and
over) encompasses every citizen of San Bernadino and a fair chunk of all surrounding counties.  But my favorite bit is how unhurried the heroes
are about the whole deal.  Even after embarking on the homicidal
scavenger hunt, the guys still pack it in and camp out when it gets
dark. I mean, sure, they love their gals and are willing to murder and
maim strangers in order to get them back, but that doesn’t mean they’re
going to do something as drastic as pulling an all-nighter.


Granted,
characters acting stupid in service of the plot is nothing new in horror movies.  But that’s where sympathy comes in, or doesn’t in
this case. Bob is portrayed as a simple-minded joke, and his wife,
despite being far and away the most reasonable and intelligent of the
characters, is presented as a boring nag.  Allan has presumably passed the Bar, but acts like a staggering dolt with nary a trace of
self-preservation instinct, while his bride is a vapid whore who
willingly jumps into bed with a psychopath while our hero sleeps next
door (a narrative decision that serves no purpose except to make us more
indifferent to whether she makes it out alive).  Now, I am definitely
not taking the position that people of subpar
intelligence deserve to be kidnapped, tormented and brutally
dismembered, their last agonized shrieks going both unheeded and
horrendously ADR-ed.  But it is hard to shake the sense that even if the
way they check out is a bit harsh, these people were probably near
the top of Natural Selection’s To-Do List anyway.


The stupid
frosting on this dumbcake is a stinger of a coda so pointless and
nonsensical that it doesn’t quite rise to the level of a twist.  Which
is nice if you’re into that kind of thing, I guess.



“Now listen good, you motherless bag of cockslime, cuz it’s the last time I’m gonna say it. The top does fall.  The end is not a dream, but the rich kid doesn’t actually exist, because the real Inception was Michael Caine and Juno trying to help Cobb get over his wife’s death.  THAT IS THE CORRECT ANSWER.”

Poker Run does have
some genuine effort and a real if not exactly enormous budget that
show up mostly in the plentiful gore, and a mean streak that should
benefit a scrappy little horror flick.  But it’s telling that the most
disturbing sequence involves killing a completely insignificant
character and no effects at all.  He’s simply laid out on the asphalt,
about to be dragged behind a motorcycle, and just revving the engine
made me squirm more than any of the blood n’ guts of the more elaborate
sequences.  There’s probably a lesson in there; maybe the worst thing
that can be done to a production without a grand idea or vision
driving it is to give it just enough resources that no one feels the
need to really push themselves to present it in interesting ways.  Oh
well, there’s a couple tit shots in there, so at least some of that
money was spent wisely.   


THE PACKAGE

It’s
an ugly looking flick, but it’s hard to know how much of that is due to shooting in mostly in dim, bland locations and what is the
limp 16X9 transfer.  I mentioned horrible ADR in passing, but it bears
mentioning that a lot of the dialogue is dubbed in more awkwardly than
most foreign language DVDs you’ll find.


There’s a few deleted
scenes, some of which actually add smidgens of depth to the main relationships, but they would also have bogged down
the already sluggish first act, so cutting them isn’t some huge mistake.  They are mainly notable for being
where the best and longest tit shots reside, so gentlemen take note. 
There are also an unremarkable trailer, photo gallery, and gag
reel, as well as an old cartoon that plays in the opening murder scene,
which  I guess was on  because it’s public domain anyway, plus a
commentary track that is little more than the director complimenting the
cast and crew and mentioning which grip and PA is in the background of
which scene.


3.0 out of 10