Where I Watched it: Amazon
English Audio Description Available?: Yes
I had no idea this was an adaptation until I watched a review from another critic I subscribe to, and he addressed a lot about how faithful it was and all that. look, i didn’t read the book. I didn’t even know there was one, so if you’ve come here for that level of enlightenment, I can’t give that to you.
Not that it really matters, because if this was a faithful adaptation, then your book sucks. This film, directed by Damon Thomas, quite frankly has no identity. It has no genre. It just languishes in this eternal hell where it’s just a big fat sack of nothing.
The film certainly isn’t scary enough to be considered legitimate horror. It’s not gory enough even for the fans who seek out the grossest entries. It’s not funny, either in an intentional way, which it seems like it wants to be, or in a dark way, like a Jennifer’s Body. It isn’t acted well enough, despite Elsie Fisher, who if she doesn’t fire her agent soon, will be lost forever to shitty horror films. It’s not written well enough to develop characters you care about, hate, love to hate, relationships you root for, or anything of the sort.
Technically, it seems to want to try all of those things, like a sampler tray that guy is holding out in the food court. Come check out one of our amazing dishes, in one of these tiny cups. This film hopes that enough of those tiny cups makes for a film, but those cups aren’t a meal, so why would that amount to a film?
It’s a film with rather obvious, stereotypical characters, that wander into situations (like houses no one would ever enter) and find themselves tripping over horror tropes and trying to get to the end of the film as quickly as possible. There were a few moments where I saw glimmers of what could be, or the potential for something to work, but it always seemed like the least interesting way to interpret that scene was taken.
For example, the dunk tank scene. She’s nervous to go up there, and her friend promises everything will go OK. Instead of leaving things open to interpretation, we’re given the narration that she has this suspicious smile before throwing the ball. Well, hells bells, that killed all the tension.
I don’t know what Damon intends to direct after this, but I think he should try his hand at some TV episodes first, where he can learn how to stick to one genre. This was a hot mess. Still, far better than Marmaduke.
Final Grade: D