Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Title Says It All

The Vault of Horror has been up and running for a couple months now, so I was kind of psyched to get my first movie screener in the mail for review. Unfortunately, it was this movie.
Before I get into the movie itself, let me set the stage by giving the credentials of some of the players. Our writer/director is Chris Stokes, a recording artist manager best known for discovering Brandy. He cut his teeth directing music videos, and later went on to craft House Party IV and You Got Served. I won't even get into the recent allegations of kid-touching directed against him by former child performers under his management (well, I guess I just did...)
Then we've got the "stars". This thing is headlined by B-level R&B warbler Omarion Grandberry, who is joined by former boy singer Marques Houston, who played Dumb Donald in the Fat Albert movie. Our love interests are Alexis Fields, sister of Kim "Tootie" Fields and best known for recurring roles on Moesha and Sister, Sister; as well as Brooklyn Sudano, best known for being the daughter of Donna Summer.
I'd be lying if I said I didn't know what I was getting into even before I popped the DVD into my player. Nevertheless, I considered it my solemn duty to give it a chance and deliver a proper review. Kudos to me for taking the high road.
To say that this is an awful horror movie not even worthy of a direct-to-DVD release would be a gross understatement. This flick goes beyond awful. Awful would be one thing--I love me a "so bad it's good" movie as well as the next guy. But beyond being bad, this movie was one of the most reprehensibly cynical excuses for filmmaking I've ever come across. At least with a bad horror movie, you often have filmmakers who have a genuine love for the genre, or can contribute something to it in some way. Rather, this movie comes across as exactly what it is: A shameless attempt to cash in on the recent popularity of certain subgenres of horror, without any of the artistic ability or interest to do it any justice whatsoever.
Look, I'm no communist. I'm all for making a buck. After all, the movie business is just that, a business. But you've got to give your audience a reason to give you their money. And this slapdash abortion of a film isn't it.
In its hamfisted struggle to capitalize on the horror craze, it mashes together several subgenres, switching from "torture porn" to slasher to supernatural without rhyme or reason. The script is trite, predictable and boring, playing off every slasher movie character cliche with no irony or satire whatsoever. We even get a blatant rip-off of a scene straight out of The Evil Dead near the beginning. Well, at least Stokes has seen one horror movie.
The single area in which I will begrudgingly praise the movie would be photography. Chris Tufty, cinematographer for A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge, at least shows some semblance of artistic vision behind the camera, putting together some interesting shots, which, though derivative, at least manage to occasionally distract the viewer from what he is actually viewing.
To put it plainly, avoid Somebody Help Me at all costs. Don't buy it. Don't rent it. If you see a copy of it laying on the sidewalk, cross the street.