Sunday, 30 October 2011

Halloween Reviewfest Part 2

Dear Jimmy Reviews...

What is it with the closing title of horror trilogies? This franchise goes ahead and pulls an ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’. After the first two Urban Legends movies were slashers this one goes ahead and decides “Fuck it, Y’know what? Ghost.”…Or witch…Or Demon… Some such paranormal shit, anyway. At this point I’m just glad that the Third Scream film didn’t turn around and reveal that the killer wasn’t wearing a mask at all, but was in fact an alien with an actual face that looked like that. Then again at least that would’ve had some kind of semblance to the films that came before it, unlike this crap.

But hey, in Bloody Mary’s defence it does pull the bait and switch much earlier. At least you know it’s bullshit going in. Hell the blurb even tells you, so there’s no sitting through 90 minutes to get to a ‘Zombie Ghost of Ben Willis’ resolution. Remember this?!

Well similarly whereas the first two ‘Urban Legends’ films were average at best slashers, the third installment is a ghost story.  So while it may not have anything to do with the first two films that sport the ‘Urban Legends’ title, but how does it stand if it were jut called ‘Bloody Mary’? Is it worth gracing your DVD player this Halloween? 
I mean the writing team of  Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris has potential. Not only has Dougherty dipped his foot fairly successfully into the horror pool with Trick ‘R’ Treat, but the two of them bought us a few successful and not entirely terrible films. Including X2, and Superman Returns. Say what you like about Superman Return, but it DID bring us one of my favorite memes:

So this could still be an entertaining enough watch, right? Errrrmmm…See above? The plot is nothing more than ‘stock horror plot line A’, about Bloody Mary seeking revenge on those responsible for her death, after her vengeful spirit is unleashed by the films main protagonist, Sam, and her friends, who incidentally happen to be teenage girls. And even with a plot that’s been used more times than Tara Reid’s morning after pills this film still manages to fuck things up.
For starters even after it’s been quite firmly established that this is definitely a ghost story, what on account of the fucking ghost girl it blatantly showed us and all, the movie still tries to fake us out into thinking there’s an actual serial killer, showing ‘somebody’ (Read: The fucking ghost girl we saw not one scene prior) pulling the lever that controls the electric fence thus frying the jock who thinks pissing on it is a good idea. It’s either the ghost of Bloody Mary or the ghost of Darwin, sick of teens in slasher movies trying to prove his natural selection theory wrong.

Plus there are a couple of mentions of the killings in the previous films. I’m not sure if that’s meant to make us doubt the firmly established fact that there’s a fucking ghost girl, or to try and make us believe that this is connected to the Urban Legends franchise in more than name only.

Actually, guys, forget that you saw this…
This is still totally a whodunit!
For that matter why DOES Bloody Mary kill her victims in this manner anyway? And why does she go after the children of her killers? The film states it’s because, since they took her youth from her she is taking theirs in the form of their kids. Besides this not making any sense right off the bat, surely the last thing that the girl who’s pissed about being murdered as an innocent teen would do is murder innocent teens? 

 And even if I did sustain a massive head injury that allowed me to go along with that, then why does she do a complete turn about in the final scene and kill the final member of the gang that killed her? And why wait twenty years to do it? Was her vengeance really released by the Bloody Mary ritual? Why? If so, are you really telling me that this is the first time in the twenty years since the original incident, that ANYBODY whatsoever has dared to try out the ‘Bloody Mary’ urban legend?!  

Plus, since I’m on a roll, why does the killer decide to try and kill Sam when she's midway through burying Mary's body in her own grave...somewhere nobody would ever think to look for it, especially after twenty years. Even though she admits nobody else knows and blatantly suspects the wrong person. Does he just have some weird kind of OCD where he has to murder a teenage girl every twenty years?

Okay, let’s turn our attention to the characters, since I fear that picking at any more plot holes may actually cause my DVD player to implode…

All our old horror movie friends come out to play in this one too, the obnoxious jock, the obviously suspicious red herring, coupled with it’s life partner of the *shocking* unforeseen betrayal by a trusted character, and who’s that quietly rocking in the back? Why it’s the seemingly crazy survivor/guru of the previous incident! Hell they even bring along the Step-son/Step-father who have trouble connecting along with them. I was beginning to think every 90’s Disney kid’s film ever had the copyright on that one. All of these roles are portrayed with performances from bland to average. Nobody is especially bad, or especially good. If the characters are let down by anything it’s probably the script itself rather than the actors portraying them.
Never is this more obvious than during this slumber party. Fuck, I feel like I’m risking my brain cells just typing this shit out. That’s how stupid it is. But I’ll endure…Because I care. The following comes from the girl’ discussing their urban legends:

Mindy: Well at least my story was real.
Martha: As real as your mother’s new tits. 

Charming. Truly we have discovered this generation's Oscar Wilde. That's about one step away from 'So's your face'. The girls then resolve this playful banter with an underwear pillow fight. Their second in the space of about five minutes, incidentally…Because this is exactly how teenage girls talk and act in the real world, right? This is exactly the kind of depth of character and realism that’s going to endear them to us for the rest of the…Oh, what’s that Urban Legends 3? They’re just here for the opening pillow fight and then disappear for the rest of the movie? Really? But you had all that back story about the damning newspaper report they wrote about the football team, so surely you'll want to look into some of....Nope? Well their getting kidnapped as an act of revenge is bound to be investigated right? What with it being a federal crime and all? Plus you'll be able to look at how they cope with a traumatic experience like that as both a group and individu--- No? You're not interested in any clothed plot development from them whatsoever? Well okay, then...

Other than the girls performing the Bloody Mary ritual, and introducing Sam, the main protagonist the first act is so badly written and has so little to do with the rest of the film, it's like they padded the run time out with the opening of another film altogether. Actually scratch that. It's more like the writers accidentally stapled a few pages of their fanfiction slap bang in the middle of the script, and were too embarrassed to say anything after they started actually filming it. I think we’re only a couple of paragraphs shy of Rogue and Catwoman appearing out of nowhere and joining them for a badly spelt orgy. Which to be fair would probably be far less embarrassing to be caught watching than this piece of shit.

An Excerpt from the original script:
“And then marther starrted two play wif Mindys boubies. This woz howt bcauze mindy haz big boubies”
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a bloke…I love boobs! And I know that a little T & A is nothing new with the horror genre, but it’s just a shame that two writers, who are actually pretty talented, churn out crap like that. Especially when they’ve already proven they can turn out genuinely entertaining banter, like this little gem:

Wolverine: Got any beer?
Bobby: This is a school.
Wolverine: So that's a "no"?
Bobby: Yeah, that's a "no."

It’s also worth noting that it feels like it’s meant to be done ironically, a la the scream franchise, but without the same successful execution. The scene in which the blonde who runs the tanning salon’s dialogue consists entirely of ‘Y’huh’ just about drags a smile out of me, kicking and screaming, but without the trademark self referential meta humour of Scream most of it just falls flat.

Not helped by the fact that otherwise, this film tries to take itself as a serious horror contender despite having such a ridiculous and clichéd premise. And one smile entertaining scene out of ninety minutes isn't a great ratio. I mean even 'The Happening' had 'death by riding mower. The movie's attempts to deliver it's story with a straight face leaves me wondering if I’m laughing at it or with it, which makes me sad. Because I know it’s not very nice to laugh at the mentally challenged.

And I was like "sh'eah. I am, like so totally ironic!"
And if it’s scares you’re after this Halloween the only way you’ll get them here is at the quality of this film. All its attempts to elicit genuine fear are either just cheap jump scares or just desperate attempts to gross you out. Yes spiders under the skin scene…I’m looking at you! Go to your room and think about what you’ve done! Even these attempts to push you out of your comfort zone fail miserably, probably not helped by the fact that Mary looks like she’s on her way to a Halloween party and the only costume left in town is a bargain basement Sadako. Y'know...Exactly like every other fuckin' ghost girl in the last twenty years.

Like so many horror films everything here has been done before, and often so much better. There’s no mystery as to who’s doing the killings either, since we know for a fact it's Ghost Mary. No matter how hard I try and forget that fact and pretend this film is only slightly terrible, there's no getting around it.
Nor do I give enough of a fuck about any of the characters to even care who’s next. All of which means this is definitely one to avoid, especially if you're looking for quality horror. Even if you’re a fan of Dougherty and Harris’s other collaborations, in which case you should check out last years 'Trick 'R' Treat' instead, while still not scary that is at least entertaining. However If you’re one of the many people who hate ‘Superman Returns’ you should totally watch this movie, it’ll suddenly have you holding 'Superman' in the same regard as 'The Shawshank Redemption'.

Better Than:

Worse Than:
'The Happening'

'I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer'
'The Urban Legends Films Without Fucking Ghost Killers!'

Legal Crap: Urban Legends 3: Bloody Mary is trademark and copyright of NPP Productions and is used without their permission.
"Dear Jimmy" and all commentary and specific writings, including this review, are written by, and property of, James Vickers.

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