Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Crypt (2009)

Don't enter the crypt (by "the crypt" I mean this movie)

What a mess of a film. "The Bleeding," "The Goatherd" and "The Graves" were severely lacking but this is possibly the worst I've seen of 2009 so far. Even just the audio of the most easiest, throwaway "Tales from the Crypt" episode is more entertaining than this. There are moments where they actually try here, but it feels like it was slapped together in such a forced, formulaic and haphazard way as to be a long lost reminder that this has anything of value. I feel bad, I really do...just donate the budget to the homeless next time as it will at least make someone's day.

Five women and a guy go to rob jewels from a secretive crypt from the depression era. The moment they pocket the valuables from the stiff and cold grips of the dead, they get random, animated visits from ghostly, zombie-like figures that want to teach them a lesson. Inside they argue about which way to go, get separated and injured--all in the most mundane way. Not to mention, the vengeful spirits attacking at their leisure killed the atmosphere from feeling exactly like the filmmakers were using it to stretch out their picture from lack of a full length story. They try to make it claustrophobic and uncomfortable but the events don't move as in the moment or steady as they wanted it to in order to pull that off. It might have helped if the characters were outlined or even a single one concentrated on in the beginning so the viewer can get a definable focus.

The "don't mess with the dead" message to put fear in the viewer didn't even feel flush since they're, 1: criminals (no honor, remember?), and 2: they were just involved with a friend that got killed stealing a car and then have moral issue with long dead corpses? Even the close up shots of the women in provocative positions--a la "Entrapment"--weren't enough to trick your mind. There's a quick topless scene to get your attention but then oddly it breaks into drama talk that kills a potentially steamy moment. They try and throw random areas of two of the character's backgrounds in without success due to not going further with it but instead lazily running through it like they had to toss in some meaning somewhere. The man gets released from prison, spits out he's thinking of going legit and tentatively tries to reestablish a relationship with his girlfriend, who also partakes in the job all for the sake of love. Yeah, touching, too bad the viewer doesn't know anything about their past situation. Do they expect us to be sentimental fools and accept it at face value?

This has got to be the worst looking group of robbers I have ever seen outside of a comedy that's doing it on purpose. It's not surprising that a lot of the cast are first time actors or just starting out and I'm going to guess "were available" rather than finding a specific person to fill the part. The guy looks like a trendy freestyle dance performer--something like a twin to David Belle's character in "District 13"--and the women are manicured to the point of looking like customer service representatives at the mall that have never gotten their hands, nor nails dirty. For low life people that steal cars, their apartments look like something out of a Bed, Bath and Beyond catalog. They chew gum and make sarcastic remarks to show they're tough before going into the crypt, then the filmmakers decided to make them immediately switch over to being sympathetic to get through the nasty situation. This isn't "The Descent" where you get a proper set up beforehand to create actual tension or concern. This didn't jive from the getgo and they seem like they belong to another movie, with the audience themselves being reminded every moment that they should have put on something else instead.

The lack of resources wouldn't have been the biggest issue--mostly the primitive sets are covered up by shadows and fog, and they use simple set-ups with water and gates to block the way--but when the story, pacing and performances are heavily slacking it makes the other aspects even worse, such as tape hiss, low and high volume, jumping editing and some hit and miss digital effects. Not to mention a pointless pull-the-rug-out-from-under-the-viewer ending if the punishment wasn't enough. This was the director's--who also wrote, produced, composed and shot--third feature length picture in 2009 and he should have slowed it down to actually get one of them down pat before moving onto the next. Even Takashi Miike didn't put out one this terrible with the sheer amount he's taken on.

Rating: 0/10

From Black to Red Recommends instead: "The Descent": This tightly shot movie with a group of back stabbing women in a cave with something lurking in the dark was nail bitting, tension filled and capable of bringing about anxiety.

Director: Craig McMahon (Sportkill, Orville, Machined Reborn)
Stars: Who cares?
Link: IMDB

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