Dir. Jon Knautz
Written by: Jon Knautz, Brendan Moore, Trevor Matthews
Starring Aaron Ashmore, Cindy Sampson, Meghan Heffern, Trevor Matthews
|Surprisingly, that's not a dark-haired expressionless Japanese schoolgirl under there.|
When a pushy, unpleasant reporter, her reluctant boyfriend, and her wimpy intern pursue a missing persons case to a tiny village in Poland, things turn ugly after they encounter a creepy statue in the middle of mysterious permanent fog. This Canadian indie horror film (financed by writer/co-star Matthews, who can afford it because his father is a telecoms multibillionaire) starts off nearly unwatchable, but slowly and torturously gets better until it finally crawls to a pretty decent climax. It has pretty much all the beats you’d expect from a film like this: hostile, culty locals, mysterious ancient evil, a couple EXORCIST ripoffs, generic demon masks, long scenes of actors running through the Canadian woods. But it occasionally has a good enough idea or two to justify it’s existence. I like the masks the cultists affix to people’s faces through judicious application of a huge sledgehammer, that’s a good image. I like the Pazuzu-looking statue that causes all the trouble, too. The plot doesn’t exactly go where you might expect, with the focus shifting from people you thought would be the main protagonists/ antagonists to an entirely different conflict by the end. And then there’s the climax, where our heros invade the home of a terrified Polish family who clearly knows more about what’s going on then they do. It features a nice twist on the usual formula by having our hero hearing the horrible things going on in another room but not being able to see it -- but then forcing him to walk through the grisly aftermath anyway. So we get to imagine the terrible unseen things AND get some good gore -- best of both worlds!
Still, the movie is too indifferently directed to really ever completely overcome it’s slow start. Many potentially good scenes lack the visual polish they need to really come alive, and the atmosphere is anemic, failing to ever work up to a solid tone of dread or panic. The shot-on-video color-filtered overlit camerawork doesn’t help either; in fact, it really highlights some of the iffy acting (although Aaron Ashmore, as the boyfriend, manages to come across pretty well). Still, at least there’s not much shaky cam. Little favors, right?* Plus, I like the little post-climax epilogue, where the surviving hero finally asks a local just what the fuck is going on. The guy (who has never before spoken any English), hilariously responds, “This is curse. Left here on our land from long ago. It cannot be undone.” And that’s it! Real fuckin helpful, guys. Oh, it’s a curse. From long ago. That explains everything.
PS: Don't forget to check out Dan P's alternate take in ABBOT AND COSTELLO GAZE UPON THINGS NOT MEANT FOR HUMAN EYES IV: THE GAZENING.
*Although I don't see how they could have failed to set the credits to They Might be Giant's "The Statue Got Me High," perhaps forever throwing away the only possible cinematic moment that song would be applicable to. Maybe they couldn't afford the rights, though.