Someone's in the house. He's watching. He's creeping round, only you can't see him. He's watching you from the walls. He's right behind you now. Looking over your shoulder. He wants the remote control. He's a bad boy. He wants to watch bad movies. Bad bad Ronald...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

PEEPHOLE REVIEW: And Soon the Darkness (2010)

Odette Yustman fulfills her contractual agreement -- that of having her butt cheeks featured prominently in a bad movie.
Which way outa this movie?
Comparing this Hollywood remake to its original British predecessor would be like placing Dolly Parton next to a 5th Grader and asking the little school girl not to have a complex.  It's just plain not fair!  Not that the remake would fare any better, being critiqued on its own merits.  The original was brought to the screen by the creative team who behind the incredibly imaginative and unique 60s British TV spy series The Avengers.  the remake was brought to the screen by the creative team of... a pile of short films.

The two perky mod British girls, of the original, are replaced by two perky American college girls (played by Amber Heard and Odette Yustman), and the rural countryside that thy bicycle through has moved from France to Argentina (golly gee, tourists terrorized in the wilds of South America -- how original).  Like a cookie cutout, the remake follows the original plot lines:  the girls find themselves in a small village where other female travelers have gone missing, they run into a handsome stranger who appears to be following them, the girls have a tiff and separate. and help is found from the local law officer.  But, the comparisons stop there.  Clever character twists, nuanced direction and imaginative storytelling have all been traded in, like an American girl for white slavery, for standard college buddy horror fare. 
"Seriously, I am the poor man's Megan Fox.:
Heard and Yustman are asked to not much more than look good in their summer minis and bikini.  Their performances are about as standard as can be -- Heard is the "nice" girl who shyly bats her eyes at the cute American stranger, and Yustman is the flirty bad" girl, who plays up the frat boy hi-jinks with an embarrassingly modicum talent for humor.  Ironically, Heard is tagged as a producer on this movie, which makes me wonder why she didn't demand some better development for these characters. Why, upon hearing about the strange disappearances of other college age tourists, would these young ladies then strut into the local watering hole, inhabited by all locals, wearing their sexiest dresses, and then grind on the male patrons, while singing along to The Divinyls' "I Touch Myself?"  After this act of idiocy, it's hard to care what happens next to these brainless kids.

And what does happen next is straight out of every other Tourists Beware!! movie that's come out in the past few years.
What's my motivation?
I don't understand how some people can defend remakes, when movies like this are the common result.  The took the skeleton of a great, nuanced, witty and terrifying movie, and then boil off all the meat.  What many producers fail to realize is that it's not the story that makes a good film good, but the storytelling. The original 1970 production was a perfect gem of quiet suspense, built on good pacing and characters.  And Soon the Darkness 2010 is merely a pointless regurgitation of Saw and Hostel gimmicks.

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