Saturday, September 26, 2009

April Fool's Day (2008) ZERO STARS

It’s so great seeing a remake of I Know What You Did Last Summer...wait, this was a remake of April Fool’s Day? Well you could have fooled me (pun intended). The reason I say this is because this movie is not anywhere close to being a remake of April Fool’s Day. Most remakes are close to being a remake, in fact most remakes actually follow the plot of the original, hence the term “remake”. But in 2008, the film studios decided to can that idea and simply use the title and just make up some random storyline, simply to cash in on the titles. The other film in 2008 that chose this path was the remake of Prom Night. My questioning behind this is why do this? Why not just make a sequel if you’re not going to follow the original plot. I loved the original April Fool’s Day, but this movie was a piece of shit and it is simple as that.
What follows is the weak, made up storyline of the 2008 “remake” of April Fool’s Day. Basically, a party is going on and a group of friends decide to embarrass their friend Milan (Aldridge), by giving her a date rape pill (yeah, that sounds like fun), they videotape her making out with someone, but she loses her balance and somehow falls off a balcony, killing her. We then go into some pointless news show talking about the death and trial that follows. On this show they actually show the real footage of the girl’s death, which I’m pretty sure they would not allow that to be shown on national T.V., I think it would be considered evidence. So a year later, all the people who were involved in this girl’s death are being stalked and killed by “Milan”. Desiree (Cole), is the main person here playing detective trying to figure out what is going on.
I am going to reveal the ending to you, so stop reading if you don't want to know it. Basically, it turns out to be an April fool’s joke again, this time by no surprise. However, the surprise here is that the group that supposedly died, is actually after Desiree, trying to coax a confession out of her. Her confession to killing Milan. She finally confesses. The dumbest ending follows. As they explain what they did and why they did it, Desiree is accidentally killed by Torrance (Taylor-Compton). She is showing her that the gun she used had blanks in it, she puts the gun to Desiree’s head, and kills her.
Overall this movie sucked big time. Not just for the fact that it doesn’t follow the original plot, but because the new plot is lame. As stated above it feels like a very cheap remake of I Know What You Did Last Summer or even a bad remake of Prom Night, this was more of a remake of Prom Night than the actual remake of Prom Night was. The acting is okay, the direction is also okay. The writing is stupid. The characters are flat and at no time do you feel sorry for any of these people in the movie. And when the “shock” ending comes along, you aren’t surprised at all. Throwing in that accidental killing seemed like a cheap way to shock the audience. It didn’t work, as soon as it happened I knew that whoever wrote this was probably all out of their dumbass ideas to even come up with a decent ending. And what the fuck is up with “The Butcher Brothers”? And how is this movie based on an original idea from them? And why is this movie credited as being based on an idea by Danilo Bach? Yes, Bach wrote the original film, but since this movie doesn’t follow one idea from the original, there is no reason to give him credit. All this movie does is tack on the title so people think it’s a remake when in actuality it is a lame, direct to video horror movie that tries too hard. In short, this movie is a piece of garbage!


The Blair Witch Project ***

In 1994 three student filmmakers went into the woods of Burkittsville to film a documentary on the Blair Witch, they were never seen again. One year later their footage was found. That is basically how The Blair Witch Project begins. This film was released during the summer of 1999, during a time when slasher sequels had risen again and were tearing up the teenage audiences (both metaphorically and literally, in the movie sense). When first glancing at The Blair Witch Project you may be turned off by how it was made. The entire movie is shot like a documentary. And before I go on anymore, we know now that the movie was just that, a movie. There were no student filmmakers making a documentary on anything, and that’s what made this movie “scary as hell” as Rolling Stone put it in their review of the movie.
We follow these filmmakers, Heather, Mike and Josh as they venture to Burkittsville, Maryland, formerly known as Blair, as they try to understand the legend of the Blair Witch. In the beginning they interview townspeople, and about 15 minutes into the movie they make their final and apparently fatal venture into the woods. While there they uncover more of the legend, but as it moves along we soon discover that the three filmmakers are lost and have no map to get back. What follows is some of the scariest filmmaking I’ve ever seen in my life. Looking back at it now, it seems funny because there have been so many parodies of this movie, most notably in the Wayans brothers movie Scary Movie which came out only one year after this film did. You never actually see anything. That may not sound very scary, but believe me it is. I can’t remember the last movie that actually was able to scare an audience by showing nothing and just leaving it up to the imagination. Movies used to do this all the time, but that time has come and gone. So see a movie like this, it literally scares you.
Now, there are people out there that call this movie stupid and boring, and I can see where they are coming from. This is not by any means a movie to watch over and over again, but it is indeed a movie that you need to see at least once. Granted this movie is not original by any means. In fact in bears a strong resemblance to Cannibal Holocaust from 1980. The main difference between the two are that in this movie you see nothing, in Cannibal Holocaust it’s the exact opposite, you see everything. In Cannibal Holocaust only the last half of the movie is the footage the filmmakers made, with lots of cutting between present time and the footage itself. In The Blair Witch Project the entire movie is the footage.
The marketing for this movie was some of the most ingenious marketing I’ve ever seen. Basically posters had the above mentioned tag of the film about the footage being found. The filmmakers even went as far as putting out missing photos of the three people and launching a website with all these facts on what happened to the three filmmakers. On the Internet Movie Database, the three actors were listed as “Missing”. This was a very big marketing technique, so well done, that people actually started to believe it. Which is probably why the movie did so well.
The Blair Witch Project became the highest grossing independent horror movie since Halloween some twenty odd years before. The movie cost only $60,000 to make and made over $140 million domestically and over $245 million worldwide. This went onto spawn numerous mockumentaries and even a terrible sequel Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 the following year. I think the coolest of these offshoots was that of the mockumentary on the DVD of The Blair Witch Project titled Curse of the Blair Witch, which gave out all the “facts” of the Blair Witch. A very interesting little piece. Nothing has come along since this movie to live up to its fear and ingenious marketing.

Urban Legends: Final Cut *

I gave this movie a one star rating when I was first writing everything out for this book. I hadn’t seen the movie in about 7 or 8 years when I gave it that rating. I just recently viewed the movie again in order to give it a proper review and I whole heartedly stand by my one star rating. The whole idea of the film was actually very intelligent and interesting. Basically the turned the cameras around on what was going on in the first film. This movie follows a group of student filmmakers, Amy (our final girl) is the little genius who comes up with an idea of a serial killer who kills on his victims based on urban legends (well actually it was Loretta Devine, reprising her role of Reese from the first film, but she was simply talking about the events of the first film). That’s an interesting idea, what followed after that was the sad attempt to make this a good movie, and the abortion of the result.
When you make a movie about someone killing people based on urban legends, it’s probably a good idea to have the killings be based on urban legends. The first film did this very well, this time around it seems like the writers forgot it was a movie about urban legends and just starting killing people off randomly. The first person to die in the movie was killed in a urban legend scenario. The classic, waking up in a tub full of ice and your kidney is gone. That’s not how she is killed, but at least it has to do with an urban legend. Every other death that follows was just random slasher film killings. One girl is attacked and has her neck cut out, a man is killed when beaten with a camera lens. None of these are or will ever be urban legends.
Then comes the stupid stuff in the movie. When the girl wakes up in the ice bath and calls 911 on her cell phone, she says “I just woke up in a tub of ice”, as the 911 operator replies “And let me guess, your kidney is missing? I have Princess Di on the other line” and quickly hangs up on her. This is the director’s / writer’s / producer’s sad attempt at humor in a horror movie, something Scream had accomplished so well 4 years prior. I really don’t think a 911 operator would just cut someone off like that if that call had actually happened. Also, what’s with the Princess Diana joke? That joke makes no sense, are they trying to attempt a rumor that she is still alive? I don’t ever remember hearing that she might still be alive, like everyone thinks Elvis Presley is still alive. And this joke feels slightly in bad taste, seeing how Princess Diana had died only 3 years before this movie came out.
Another dumb thing that happens in the movie is a character (who plays a bad actress, or is she even acting?) forgets her keys when leaving the set and she is all alone. First off, why is the lead actress the last one to be leaving the studio? So she heads back to the studio, looking in drawers and desks on the set. Why would she have put her keys anywhere on the set? She then goes into the bathroom, where everything is set up for a dog to be hanging from the shower. She immediately begins to look through the fake guts on the floor. WHY? Why would anyone put their car keys into the bloody fake guts on the floor of the set? And what do you know, the keys are in the guts!
It’s these reasons why the slasher film has pretty much died down again. Scream kick started the slasher genre again in 1996, but as it happened in the 1980s it happened again in the 1990s and beyond, half hearted sequels that come out almost immediately just to cash in on the original. Had they spent more time on this film, and actually worked out the kinks this could have been a great sequel.