Saturday, October 8, 2011

Day 281: Double Feature - Wrong Turn (2003) and Jeepers Creepers 2 (2003)

Wrong Turn.  R, 1 hr. 24 min.  Directed by: Rob Schmidt.  Release Date: May 30, 2003.  DVD Release Date: October 14, 2003.

Wrong Turn plays a tune most of us have seen before.  People are lured (or foolishly travel) to crazy environs out in the sticks, those parts on the maps that once would have been labeled "Here There Be Dragons," or something else equally silly.  Then, (gasp) there really is something to fear.  It takes most of its inspiration from The Hills Have Eyes, although there are elements of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre as well.  They've just substituted one of the many parts of this country that are the butt of jokes for inbreeding.  Sorry, West Virginians, but you know it's true.  The inbreeding might not be, but the jokes certainly are.  

There are some good cast members:  Eliza Dushku, who admittedly has a limited range (possibly a limit that is self-created), but who works believably and effectually within those limits.  Desmond Harrington was more than a little decent for a horror star.  Kevin Zegers put some fun into this role, and while this wasn't his best performance, he brought forward a believable character.  Emmanuelle Chriqui was also good.  The "mutants" once they appear, played solid parts, but unfortunately the monster makeup was a bit over the top, and like so many horror movies Wrong Turn decided the makeup was worth giving these guys lots of camera time.

Eventually, Wrong Turn lives up to its whispered promise.  It's a bit spooky, and creates an environment wherein racing pulses and held breaths become the norm.  This isn't horror in the general sense, although there are elements of that, this is more suspense masquerading as something darker than it really is.  There is sufficient violence and gore to keep fans of that sort of movie entertained, and the desolate location helps provide a semi-believable backdrop for the events going on right smack dab in middle America.  But, even allowing for that delivery, this still isn't a good movie, although I'm sure it can be enjoyed in the right company.

This is worth seeing, but only once.  Repeated viewings tend to highlight the flaws and minimize the interesting aspects of the movie.  Could this have been better?  Yes, but that would have required an original approach to the story at any level.

Jeepers Creepers 2.  R, 1 hr. 44 min.  Directed by: Victor Salva.  Release Date: August 29, 2003.  DVD Release Date: December 23, 2003.

A while back, I wrote about my rules for a good sequel, and I'm sure I'll write about it again, and maybe flush out the rules a little bit.  Without doing a lot more looking through my blog, I won't be quoting myself exactly, but one of the warnings I give is that when more than 50% of the cast of a movie fails to appear in the sequel, you are seriously running the risk of going in to a bad movie if you see the sequel.  Jeepers Creepers 2 has precisely 0% of the cast that was in the original, unless you count the monster, which I don't.  That is easily a sign of bad juju ahead.

Not only did the sequel not manage to snag any of the surviving cast from the original, they decided to pretend as if the intervening years hadn't happened... which took me about three years and a number of views to understand.  Quite honestly, that's a lot of carnage to happen within a single 28 day period, or however long the monster has, to go almost entirely unnoticed.  After the events spelled out in the first film, you'd think the National Guard would be patrolling those lonely roads, but no, there's just a school bus with a bunch of annoying kids.

Even worse than the two sins already discussed, they managed a few more:  the first is bringing in not so much as a single decent actor.  There are an absolute TON of people in this film, and the skill level witnessed here in somewhere downtown from high school pageant.  Oh, and not a performing arts high school pageant.   The next is a common sin in horror, giving a poorly done up monster too much screen time, especially in this case, where the monster has too strong a resemblance to Dr. Zoidberg from Futurama in that episode when it was his species' mating time.  In the first of the series, there were few close looks at the monster, but in the second, the monster gets a ridiculous amount of screen time.  The final sin is leaving ending questions.  How exactly is it that the last remaining characters in the movie expect to manage the situation they've created?  Inquiry minds want to know.