October 20th, 2014

HURT (2009) * ½

Recently widowed Melora (Boogie Nights) Walters takes her kids to live in the middle of the desert at her brother in law’s junkyard. If she didn’t already have enough on her plate, she decides to take in a troubled foster kid (played by Sofia Vassilieva). Pretty soon, tensions in the family become strained and pet ducks start dying mysteriously. Eventually, the brat shows her true colors and plays the family members against each other.

I really like Melora Walters, but she gives a lackluster performance here. She speaks in a breathy airhead voice and her character is so one-dimensional that it never really comes to life. The crazy kid isn’t especially menacing either, and Vassilieva fails to make her character a legitimate threat.

Hurt is a very deliberately paced affair and if you lack patience (like I did), you’ll probably find yourself drifting off to sleep (like I did). It gets some mileage out of its unlikely setting (who buys scrap metal in the middle of the desert?), but it’s one of those films where the horror is too mundane to be truly effective. Aside from one uneasy scene in which the foster kid gets her first period, it takes a long time before anything really horrific happens. By then, the movie’s already tested your patience, so it’s hard to really get on board with it once people start winding up dead.

Tomorrow’s Bargain Bin Horror Movie: The Cellar Door.

THE CELLAR DOOR (2007) **

Herman (James DuMont) is a seemingly meek man who kidnaps women and keeps them locked up in the cellar where he tortures them. He kidnaps his latest victim Rudy (Michelle Tomlinson) while she’s still drunk and puts her in a cage. Scared but resilient, Rudy tries to play along with her captor long enough to work out an escape plan.

The Cellar Door is a low budget production, and the obvious limitations of the budget unfortunately hamper the overall impact of the film. The camerawork in particular is kind of cruddy (especially in the early going) and a lot of the handheld stuff will have you reaching for the Dramamine. The scenes of Herman stalking his prey could’ve been a lot more effective if the damned camera wasn’t so damned shaky all the time.

While director Matt Zettell develops an adequate sense of claustrophobia, the flick never really kicks into gear. The nightmare sequences of Rudy being attacked by Herman’s previous victims don’t really work either. Although the scenes of Rudy in her cage aren’t very captivating, the final reel is fairly decent. There are some other creepy moments here and there (like when we learn Herman is keeping Rudy’s… umm… waste products), but nothing out-there enough to make it worthwhile. At least the performances by DuMont and Tomlinson are strong enough to keep you watching throughout.

AKA: Broken 2: The Cellar Door.

Tomorrow’s Bargain Bin Horror Movie: The Cry.

THE CRY (2007) **

La Llorona is a staple of Mexican folklore. She was a scorned woman who went crazy when she found out her husband was cheating on her and drowned her children. The legend was explored previously in the excellent horror flick, The Curse of the Crying Woman. This updating of the legend isn’t nearly as creepy and memorable, but it isn’t terrible or anything.

There has been a rash of child murders in Spanish Harlem. Detective Alex Scott (Christian Camargo) tries to make sense of the seemingly random killings all the while dealing with the death of his own son. A clairvoyant knows that the Mexican folk legend La Llorona is the cause of the deaths and tries to get him to listen. Eventually, Scott discovers that she is La Llorona’s next target.

The Cry is competently made and decently acted chiller. However, at times it feels like an episode of Law and Order, as some of the police procedural scenes become a bit interchangeable. These scenes have a tendency to drag the movie down, which is unfortunate because some of the supernatural elements are surprisingly well done (like the bathtub scene). The flashback-heavy sequences also drain a lot of the tension from the film, and the finale kinda fizzles out too. The end result is more than a bit uneven, but at least there are some cool moments early on.

Tomorrow’s Bargain Bin Horror Movie: Bay Coven.