Two Horror Films from Peace Arch
Day of the Dead (November 7/08)
A chaotic mess of violence and gore, Day of the Dead follows several disparate characters (including Mena Suvari's Sarah Bowman, Nick Cannon's Salazar, and Ian McNeice's Paul) as they attempt to stay alive following a zombie outbreak in their small Colorado town. Day of the Dead ultimately bears few similarities to its George A. Romero-helmed predecessor, as director Steve Miner - working from Jeffrey Reddick's screenplay - offers up a generic, increasingly incompetent zombie thriller that fails to engage the viewer on even the most basic of levels. There's little doubt that the egregious use of computer-generated effects ranks high on the film's list of transgressions, with the decision to augment the zombies' brain-eating shenanigans with instances of CGI ensuring that such sequences come off as eye-rollingly silly (ie the undead oppressors scramble along walls and ceilings). Miner's use of shaky camerawork and rapid-fire editing during scenes of violence only compounds the pervading atmosphere of incoherence, although - to be fair - there are one or two admittedly effective bits of gore sprinkled throughout the film's almost interminable running time (ie a zombie eats its own eyeball). The perfunctory performances add little of value to the proceedings, with Cannon's hopelessly over-the-top work as a sassy, relentlessly jive-talking soldier inevitably surpassing everything else within Day of the Dead as its most annoying and flat-out infuriating element. The end result is an effort that makes Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead remake look positively masterful by comparison, which is certainly surprising given Miner's work on such relatively stirring genre efforts as Lake Placid and Halloween: H20.
Though competently made and reasonably well acted, Killer Movie suffers from a pervadingly humdrum atmosphere that effectively cements its place as a watchable yet entirely uninvolving horror endeavor. The storyline follows the ragtag members of a reality-television crew (which includes Paul Wesley's Jake, Kaley Cuoco's Blanca, and Jason London's Mike) as they descend on a small town hoping to document the rise of a local hockey team, with complications ensuing as a masked maniac embarks on a murderous killing spree limited almost entirely to the out-of-towners. Overlooking writer/director Jeff Fisher's annoying penchant for cutting to one-on-one interviews with the various characters - a device that effectively obliterates the film's limited momentum - Killer Movie generally comes off as an easy-going piece of work that's simply unable to engage the viewer on any real level virtually from start to finish. The tired storyline is exacerbated by the inclusion of kill sequences that are almost uniformly underwhelming, as Fisher's reluctance to offer up excessive instances of gore ensures that such moments are unable to lift the proceedings out of its unmistakable doldrums. The less-than-enthralling vibe extends even to the reveal of the killer's identity, with his/her motivations for dispatching countless characters nothing short of ludicrous. The end result is the horror-movie equivalent of elevator music; while one could certainly do worse within the inherently uneven genre, Killer Movie is destined to vanish from one's memory seconds after the end credits have started to roll.