The Films of Rachel Talalay
Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare
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Ghost in the Machine (January 13/06)
Ghost in the Machine is an exceedingly silly and surprisingly tedious horror flick revolving around a recently-deceased serial killer who finds that his consciousness has been uploaded into a computer mainframe. Now able to wreak havoc via electricity and phone lines, said murderer sets his sights on single mom Terry Monroe (Karen Allen); after destroying her credit and messing with her bank accounts, he begins knocking off her friends and coworkers via increasingly inventive methods (ie he literally microwaves one guy to death). Though the elaborate nature of some of the film's death sequences provides some entertainment (and can't help but remind one of the Final Destination series), there's little here worth recommending - particularly in terms of plausibility, which goes right out the window early on. That the murderer is able to use his newfound, Lawnmower Man-esque situation to access computer accounts basically makes sense, but even the screenwriters would be hard-pressed to explain his ability to manipulate electrical items such as hand dryers and dishwashers. Exacerbating matters is a reliance on elements that likely came off as cutting-edge back in '93 but now just lend the film a thoroughly dated feel (the virtual-reality sequence is easily the best example of this). The anti-climactic finale, consisting almost entirely of gobbledygook and bad computer effects, cements Ghost in the Machine's status as an irrelevant and utterly forgettable piece of work.
The Wind in the Willows
The Dorm (January 9/16)
Astonishingly tedious and thoroughly generic, The Dorm follows Alexis Knapp's Vivian as she arrives at college and is immediately moved into the creepy title locale. It's there that Vivian meets and befriends a group of seemingly affable fellow students, although it becomes increasingly clear that these people are up to something sinister. It's not necessarily the exceedingly familiar premise that sinks The Dorm (although it certainly doesn't help); rather, it's filmmaker Rachel Talalay's lackluster, lifeless execution and Sean Hood's paint-by-numbers screenplay that effectively drain the energy out of the proceedings. Hood's decision to make it all-too-clear just what's going on here virtually from the get-go proves disastrous, with the movie's absence of a mystery ensuring that one is forced to wait for Vivian to figure out what's long-become obvious to the viewer. And because the film was produced for MTV - has there ever been a movie-of-the-week with more obvious spots for commercial breaks? - The Dorm is saddled with a relentlessly sanitized feel that both contributes to the dull atmosphere and exacerbates its many problems (ie the movie could've seriously benefited from some gore and/or violence). It's ultimately obvious that The Dorm boasts few attributes designed to appeal to viewers over a certain age, though the film's my-first-horror-flick vibe might appeal to younger teenagers.