29 May 2011

Movies: Chain Letter

Chain Letter (2010) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1148200/

Horror film. Big budget production with a low-budget feeling.

A high-schooler playing World of Warcraft receives an instant message (obviously not from in-game) seemingly from his in-game opponent praising his skillz, then the IM-er sends him an email. Upon opening the email the kid finds it to be a chain letter that says something along the lines of "pass this chain letter on to five people within the next 24 hours. If you break the chain you will die." There's a bit more flowery language to the letter, but the gist is all that's important. High-schooler's sister busts in the room to kick him off his computer because hers locked up, so she sends the email to her buds as a joke.
And it begins. Some send it on, some don't. Those that don't start dying. OOOH scary.

The only actors I recognized were Keith David and Brad Douriff. Douriff was wasted in his role as a high school teacher, David got to do a little more stuff as the cop investigating the deaths. A bunch of obvious college graduates were cast as high-school students (B-movie playbook). Minor supporting characters pop in and out of existence randomly. Some even show up a couple times before disappearing. I don't mean they get killed off, they just don't show up again because their significance is fleeting. The "parents" only showed up when necessary for a scene - which amounts to maybe once or twice. I think. I didn't really care.

I really don't have to explain the plot, it's quite obvious from the content of the chain letter.
The dialog is terrible.  The use of very dated cultural references was agonizing. OJ Simpson? Unibomber? Y2K computer glitch mania? MySpace? Seriously? A 2010 film trying to make a point about "technology is bad and strips away our privacy and freedoms," invents a virus that works on any computer or cell phone through email and text messages, then punctuates their argument with references from decades ago (in internet years)? Yeesh. They must've been trying to sell this film for ages.

As expected lots of scenery chewing happens. It's as if almost everyone who gets only one scene plays their part on edge and all their emotional baggage explodes into every conversation.  The poor cop couldn't talk to anyone without them going rabid in his face. Granted - his choice to interview friends and family of a dead kid at the kid's funeral was probably a poor one.
Poor Brad Douriff had to reign it in to play his teacher role but he still popped the eyes and looked like he was about to start biting faces. And I like Douriff when he's cast properly - shame on production for wasting him like that. Hopefully he got paid well.
The killer? He dresses his face up like Darkman (bandages) whether he's in his lair or out on the prowl. His lair has a layer of water on the floor with constant drips from the ceiling - because that's what scary killer lairs look like. Most of the time he kills and leaves the body at whichever location he catches up to them, though he has taken a couple back to his lair alive for whatever reason that never really makes much sense.

The end of the film isn't really an end. It looks more like they ran out of footage, "creatively" edited things into a loop, then tossed in an epilogue that isn't an end to the movie or the epilogue itself.  Yes, an aimless meandering plot that ran out of time, and it shows. Just like the ending of Nine Dead. And just as good a film.
I especially liked how the investigating cop had a series of flashbacks to significant clue events and people that occurred during the film even though he was not present for them to happen. And by 'especially liked' I mean rolled my eyes and groaned.

Seriously - it's like they took Jason, dressed him as Darkman, took the machete away and gave him chains as a weapon (chain letter - get it? nudge nudge), mixed in some Saw and Final Destination 'creative killing scenarios' - tossed it in Tom Dickson's blender and poured this out. "B-movie smoke. Don't breathe this." 

I wouldn't recommend seeking this film out to watch it. It isn't even worth it for the 'watch a bad film for curiosity's sake' experience.


Yeah - I knew it was a terrible idea to watch this film before I put it in the queue, but I don't get to rule my Netflix queue with an iron fist. When the film arrived the wife didn't recall watching the trailer or expressing interest in it, which is understandable because we saw the trailer ages ago before the film was released to theaters back in October 2010. Then once we started watching it she realized the crap we were in for and told me I shouldn't listen to her when it comes to film choices - which I countered with sometimes she does make me watch real good films against my will and I thank her for that. Besides - how better to be able to appreciate good films than to have bad films for comparison?

1 comment:

  1. The movie was really bad. I laughed when they had the news on that mentioned "Anonymous." The kid that was playing World of Warcraft was saying stuff like "I'm going to steal your experience points" and a few other things that don't actually happen in the game. Was the killer actually playing WoW and decided to send his arena opponent a chain letter virus thing? I didn't realize until you mention it that the cop was seeing flashbacks of events that he wasn't present for, LOL. They also took the Ford symbol off the car, blocked every logo on the Mac computers, and hid other brands which shows that none of them wanted to support their shitty movie.

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