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Jessica T. Perez,
In England, when the naive Emilio buys an old van, he invites his friends Judd, Molly and Andrew and his sister Ally to travel to a lake in the woods. They get lost and while trying to get directions in a bar in the road to follow the trip, they are scared by a crazy old man, who tells that there are missing persons on the spot. Then, Emilio runs over a woman and she faints. The group sees a mailbox in the roadside and Judd, Molly and Andrew enter in the forest trying to get some help. Along the night, they are chased by naked fallen angels thirsty of blood and their keeper. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
When teenagers go on a trip in a camper van there are many clichés that you can guarantee will follow.
1)The teenagers will be warned not to go where they are going by a crazy local. Dan Van Husen handles that with ridiculous exposition about deadly Sirens. What, who, how and why are handled in one almost unintelligible burst. 2)The van will break down. 3)Whilst looking for help the group will be split up and be picked off one by one by whatever monster they have been warned about.4)They will find a house inhabited by a madman, he will capture them. 5) The house will have a phone but it will not work, it will be disturbingly decorated, there will be flickering neon light, spiders and maggots. 6)The madman will catch them as they try to escape in a vehicle that won't start (here the high speed getaway was to be made on a tractor). 7)The madman will be seemingly killed only to come back from the dead for a cheap, weak scare and will then be killed properly. 8)Only a girl will be left alive from the group. 9)There will be an unnecessary twist at the end.
Add to these elements naked Sirens (who the characters seem to react to in startling different ways despite the fact that everyone that sees them is supposed to fall into lust with them immediately) that seduce and kill the teens, throats being ripped out and bodies being pulled in half and you have something resembling a twelve year old boys dream movie.
I think it is only fair to say that my opinion of the director and his previous work is as low as it is possible to be but I am happy to point out that there are a few elements that boarder on pleasurable and are a great improvement on his previous film, Darkhunters, which is one of the worst films I have ever seen. At times the cinematography is very good, the music and editing are a cut above his previous films and some other low budget horror movies. I was impressed to hear that it was achieved with a third of the money spent on the previous monstrosity. However, the worst things about this movie are not to be found in the body of the film, it is ultimately a mildly diverting if pointless movie that has been done time and time again, but amongst the DVD extras.
If you do rent this film I implore you to listen to the director's commentary it is beyond belief. There is more to say about this than the film itself. One staggering part of the commentary is the director's claim that the film is cliché leaden because it was a preconceived idea. He says it is a deliberate attempt to use all of the clichés and openly he wonders if "people will get it".
I'm afraid to say that if this is supposed to be a clever nod and a wink to films of the past and the genre clichés within them then it is not wittily scripted enough, acted in an appropriate tone nor directed with enough style to work. If this film was made to order it leads me to ask one question; "What was the point?" This is s afilm that just slips right into the canon of bad horror movies, any attempt to do something clever or different haven't worked.
The next nugget of brilliance is a conversation about the snobbery towards digital film formats. They rightly point out that digital is often synonymous with cheapness and ease of use. However, the best moment of the conversation comes when they bemoan the fact that when Michael Mann makes a film in the format he is branded as a visionary. There is a simple distinction to be made here; Mann is a talented director who will use the format to fit his story and style, Roberts is a horror hack who uses it to produce bottom shelf genre pictures . I think the differences are obvious and the comparison is not only arrogant but redundant.
The best moment is reserved for Robert's comments about people who have taken the time to review his previous film. Those who didn't like it are generalised as 'geeks' and he even goes as far as to single out specific people for having the nerve to voice their opinion in forums that encourage them to do just that. I must admit I was slightly disappointed that my review of his last film wasn't singled out for ridicule. The tirade goes further as the group joke about Norwegian reviewers, complete with 'hilarious' accents to imply that people from Norway wouldn't know a good film simply because of where they are born. As always these sorts of comments say more about those saying them than those they are targeting, they simply make the director and his friends look ignorant.
The package in rounded out with a tasteful featurette about how the Sirens were cast. Robert's swears blind in voice over, 'I didn't want to make a film that was like Baywatch' as we see audition tapes of topless and naked girls writhing around on the ground. There is also a simpering, self-indulgent documentary about the making of Darkhunters during which Robert's says that a reviewer has claimed that Forest is "The best British film in years". I don't know who he is trying to convince. At one point in the commentary track Robert's says jokingly "I can see people sitting at home saying "this isn't amazing, its sh$t" he isn't wrong.
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