Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #243
Number of Views: One
Release Date: August 24, 2007 (Montréal World Film Festival)
Country of Origin: United States
Running time: 83 minutes
Director: Jed Weintrob
Producers: Christian D. Bruun, Jamie Gordon, Daniel Hank, Courtney Potts, Allison Powell, Norman Twain
Screenplay: Zack Ford
Special Effects: Leo Wieser, Wade Maurer, Samantha Rumball, David Trainor, Michael David Carr
Cinematography: Toshiaki Ozawa
Score: Roger Neill
Editing: Chris Figler, Jason Watkins
Studio: Norman Twain Productions
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Stars: Angela Bettis, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Ben Cotton, Devon Graye, Al Sapienza, Monika MarLee, Tegan Moss, Brittney Wilson, Bill Baksa, Carey Feehan, Kristin Kowalski, Brandon Jay McLaren, Christopher Titus
Suggested Audio Candy
Jakalope “Pretty Life”
I’ve long since become disillusioned with 3D technology. Back in the eighties it was a sight to behold, Friday the 13th Part III and Jaws 3D implemented it somewhat questionably if truth be told but this pre-adolescent was seduced nonetheless. Recently it has made a resurgence although now everyone has got in on the act. James Cameron has publicly lambasted the technique or, more critically, others’ lazy attempt to cash in rather than using it to benefit the experience. My Bloody Valentine was the first horror flick to successfully utilize it and actually one of the better examples. Around the same time that was cleaning up at the box office another less fashionable low-budget flick also got in on the act.
When viewing Scar for the first time I negated to wear the supplementary 3D glasses and opted for its 2D incantation. Whether or not I would be able to effectively critique the film without watching it sing and dance remained to be seen but I can safely state that after spending 83 minutes with Jed Weintrob’s entry into the torture porn phenomena, it doesn’t make a blind bit of difference. The reason for this, it pains me to say, is that Scar is laughably inept. Fuck, watching it in four dimensions wouldn’t save it from its fate as it is fundamentally flawed from the ground up.
I’ll start with the positives and this won’t take long, I assure you. Its leading lady is none other than horror starlet Angela Bettis (May, Toolbox Murders), an actress who has barely ever put a foot wrong in my books. That factor alone ensured that I would enter Scar with some form of hope, albeit diminutive. She copes remarkably well considering the tosh she is forced into coming out with and doesn’t look uncomfortable for a second to boot. I have no qualms that she wore her embarrassment on the inside but, being the consummate professional that she is, she actually nails her turn. Thankfully, no blame will be falling on her doorstep this day.
Alas, the sentiment cannot be extended to everything else about Scar. It is a downright catastrophe, from sorry start to its finish by which point apologies will simply no longer cut it. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but, when good news is so hard to muster, it becomes my duty to lay the boot in like every other ‘critic’ who has shown it the door. I was all ready to give it the fairest crack of the whip imaginable and ignore the negativity which it received right across the board. Yet, five minutes in, I was seriously beginning to doubt my ability to stick up for the ugly kid. In his defense, Weintrob does attempt to instill some vague semblance of style by shooting clinically to match the surgical tone but even this leads to over-lighting, detracting from the experience further still.
The plot, for what its worth, revolves around Joan (Bettis). As a teenager she was abducted, along with her best friend, by a sadistic nutbag known as The Bishop, bound to a funeral home gurney and forced into deciding the fate of her buddy in order to save her own skin. She managed to escape by the skin of her teeth but still carries the scars, emotional as well as actual, as we cut to present day. Upon returning to her hometown to pay a visit to her brother and niece, a spate of copycat killings commence, forcing her into facing up to her past once more. Moreover, she is implicated in the murders and swiftly becomes a suspect as the bodies begin to pile up.
Zack Ford’s inept and utterly implausible treatment is among the least defendable of recent years. There’s enough plot holes to play a round of whack-a-mole and come away with a high score. No rhyme, no reason, no sense or feeling. To call it harebrained would be like calling Eddie Murphy past his prime; the dialogue is laughable, plot development woefully handled and numerous methods of escape for our beleaguered heroine increasingly preposterous. Presumably, Ford spent a weekend knocking up his screenplay in order to take full advantage of the blossoming 3D technology. That way maybe audiences would be flanked by the visuals. Astonishingly, Scar was a cinematic fireball in some countries and topped the Russian chart at one point. I can only but stroke my chin pensively.
The final act is a doozy as history repeats itself in the most ludicrous fashion. The Bishop’s contemporary replacement is lacking in anything resembling menace, which is a crying shame as his forerunner actually had a certain je ne sais quoi. Beyond the beret are the eyes of malicious intent and Weintrob throws the flashbacks our way as if extinction is looming. It kinda is. Scar is effectively defunct within its opening third and an anthropologists wet dream by the hour mark. Much of the carnage occurs off-screen and it is left to those nostalgic glimpses to provide the claret being promised. Despite some satisfying splatter, especially in the protracted denouement of the final five, it struggles to make any kind of lasting impression other than befuddlement.
There are spikes to the flat-line. Kirby Bliss Blanton (The Green Inferno) does her level best with the scraps that are on the table and, as previously mentioned, Ben Cotton gives a great account of himself as The Bishop. Meanwhile, Christopher Titus’s turn as Joan’s Sheriff brother, is fascinating purely because of an uncanny resemblance to Michael Biehn. Bettis is some trooper and somehow comes away with credibility in tact but if you dress a prima ballerina in hazmat suit and clodhoppers you ain’t going to be getting many pivots.
Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 5/10
Grue Factor: 4/5
For the Grue-Guzzlers: Tongues are removed, bodies stapled, drills bore into skulls and throats severed. Sounds like quite the platter of splatter right? It actually is, but for every gore-sodden interval there’s a missed opportunity and no amount of 3D technology can conceal that.
Richard Charles Stevens
Keeper of The Crimson Quill
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