Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Undertow, The (2003)

Directed by:
Jeremy Wallace

I'm a patient guy and have no problem with slow-moving horror films if the slow-moving parts actually serve some kind of purpose, such as helping to define characters, setting up an interesting storyline, creating atmosphere or mood and/or helping to build suspense. However, when a simple shot-on-video slasher/gore film spends the first 45 minutes (!) completely gore or murder free you know you've got a problem. Aside from briefly establishing the back-story of the killer, the film spends the majority of the first two-thirds of its run-time showing a bunch of obnoxious "friends" screaming profanities at one another as they drive around in the boonies, visit a general store, go canoing and set up their camp. Again, I have no problem with dialogue as long as the dialogue is interesting and serves some purpose. Here it's not the least bit interesting and creates tedium right from the start. In fact, I have a strong suspicion that the majority of the dialogue in this film was just made up on the spot. Characters frequently and awkwardly talk over top one another like it's some kind of improv class from hell, and there's no attempt whatsoever at characterization. It's a real endurance test to even make it to the first murder scenes as the film the film doesn't even really hit any kind of stride until the final 20 minutes, when nearly the entire cast thankfully gets butchered.

In the small town of Old Mines, Missouri, the townspeople are hiding a deep dark secret. The religious fanatic mayor (Ed Belt) hates people from out of town visiting the area. He views them as being impure and thinks they are possessed by demons and wants no part of them. When tourists can't take the hint to high tail it out of there, the mayor unleashes his incest-bred mongoloid son on them. The son - named Dewey or just "The Boy" - is a big, hulking, mentally-retarded behemoth dressed in overalls and a pillow case over his head, who's kept locked up in a shed until he's needed to get to "work" killing off anyone dumb enough to refuse to leave the area. In come six people; Eli (Jason Christ), Carol Anne (Julie Farrar), Buster (Chris Grega), Mia (Emily Haack), Judy (Robin Garrels) and Tim (Todd Tevlin), who fumble through their awkward scenes seemingly in a contest to see who can throw out the "f bomb" the most times. The people in town, including the sheriff (Joseph Palermo) and the killer's sister (Trudy Bequette) try to scare them off, but they don't listen. "The Boy" is then set free and goes on a rampage, also killing some other people in town along the way. "The Boy" doesn't like to use weapons much of the time and uses his bare hands to rip open heads and chests.

The movie does eventually provide some gore, but most of it is at the very end. For a 75-minute film, that's otherwise pretty worthless, to wait that long to start flinging around the red stuff, is pretty much unforgivable. If you've read this far, know the basic plot already and still feel like you must watch for whatever reason, I'd recommend fast forwarding until the first murder scene occurs. The rest is a waste of time.


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