Don't Look Up Review

Here's a question: is fear more tangible when you cannot see what it is you are supposed to be frightened of? For example, where does the horror really lie? Does it lie in the monster that's about to eat you, or how the darkness in the room forbids you from seeing it? Trick question. The real horror is movies like Don't Look Up that take this notion and hack it to death with a dull knife.

Horror movies have such terrific potential for being memorable; fear is probably the most powerful emotion, and when a film can successfully exploit it, the audience will go home and have trouble sleeping soundly. A person might refuse to watch said horror movie a second time; not because it is a poorly made film, but for the exact opposite reason.

The main players in Don't Look Up would probably agree; they themselves are filmmakers. The director and lead character Marcus Reed (Reshad Strik) has taken a film crew to Middle Of Nowhere, Romania and proceeds to recreate/finish a film that was made in the 1920s that was ruined by a ghost of some sort. The ghost, we learn via text exposition before the film begins, was a woman who was killed by her town for having made a deal with the Devil. Because this was not what she wanted, she decided to be a ghost and start killing people, I guess. Her motive is unclear. She's understandably mad but for some reason, while a movie was being filmed about her in the 1920s in Romania (the original one Marcus will be remaking) she ends up making the lead actress vanish, and then kills the director.

A confusing back story is far worse than no back story. The filmmakers could have cut quite a lot out if they just made the studio inexplicably haunted. When an audience watches Poltergeist and white-knuckles the armrest, it isn't because they're thinking about some intricate exposition as to why the poltergeist is haunting the joint. Don't Look Up needed a text exposition before a visual prologue in order to establish context. It's for this reason that you'll spend close to an hour watching this movie asking yourself why you're actually watching this movie.

Back to present day: the film crew travels to Romania to put a story on film that was never finished. The studio is haunted, complete with creepy smells and creepier whispers in the dark. The crew hates it, but set aside their guff and go along for the ride. 'As if a hundred-year-old studio in Middle Of Nowhere, Romania would be anything more than a total dump', they must be thinking.

But total dump or not, things start to get serious as Marcus begins toeing the line of going completely mad. He is able to sort of see apparitions; he goes in to some kind of trance/epileptic state and freaks out; sometimes in the middle of shooting, which leads to nothing but awkward questions. And not just from the crew, but from the audience. Why is Marcus having these fits? Just because? Okay fine. Why is Marcus going into a violent shock when another guy is getting attacked by a horde of flies, as if Marcus is channeling him or something? Just because? Okay fine. What's with all the g.d. flies, anyway? Because the corpse is a dead corpse, and flies flock to dead corpses? Isn't any ghost essentially from a dead corpse that would presumably have flies on it? Why is Marc---you know what? Never mind. Let's pray for that much-needed twist ending that will leave the audience grinning and slapping their foreheads in relief that they just watched a clever piece of work and not some horror trainwreck.

There is a twist ending, but it redefines the meaning of the word “contrived” and leaves the audience tucked far back from the edge of their seats. Not much can be said without spoiling it, but by the end of this boring 100-minute journey, you'll not only be confused a touch, but also a little angered by the fact that the movie failed to make any of its characters important enough for us to give a damn about whatever was really going on in the story. There's not a single soul in this movie really worth saving, save for a few of the normal crew guys. Although, they had it coming when they didn't quit after the first mysterious death on set. All the chief characters are pretty unlikable. It isn't the actors' faults; they did as good a job as any could. They were working with a story too muddled and overly complex to be a memorable one.

DVD Bonus Features

Apart from the trailer, there's an extensive 30-minute making-of featurette, with tons of interviews from the cast and crew. Then a reel of behind-the-scenes footage, where you can see the inner-workings of the film's few stunts, and scenes involving gory makeup.

"Don't Look Up" is on sale July 27, 2010 and is not rated. Horror. Directed by Fruit Chan. Written by Brian Cox (screenplay), Hiroshi Takahashi (screenplay), Hideo Nakata (story) . Starring Carmen Chaplin, Eli Roth, Henry Thomas, Rachael Murphy, Reshad Strik.

Ryan Katona

I grew up in the Midwest and couldn't be prouder of it. There wasn't a whole lot to do though, and since not being athletic was one of my favorite pastimes, watching movies became a hobby. The hobby turned into a career pursuit, which led me to the east coast. I'm now excited that I get to share my two cents on movies.


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