Editor’s Note: These posts originally appeared starting here on the AV Club *stares off wistfully*. They are being reposted for completionist sake as this annual series continued onto the AVCAD and now here. Also, forgive the writing for I was younger and dumber and these were written to appear in comments so don’t include pictures and are far shorter and less thorough than the series is now. They have been preserved as they were.
Month of Horror: World Edition
10/18/2015 – Singapore: The Maid (2005)
Directed by Kelvin Tong
Considering both its relative young age as a country and incredibly small size, it is not too shocking that Singapore doesn’t have a considerable international film presence, with even the local film industry being fairly dormant until the 90’s and even as of the present have only had a few films such as Ilo Ilo which have made any kind of a splash outside of the country. Wonderfully, the DVD I received for The Maid had a mismatched audio track so instead I got to watch a lousy looking Youtube version so consider this a disclaimer not that I think it would have helped. Thanks again Netflix; you had been doing so wellbefore these two incidents.
There is certainly potential hidden in this film with some genuinely unnerving scenes and the always ripe for use fish out of water horror scenario where our lead is stranded in a place she does not fully understand and away from anyone she knows. The potential especially inherent is the hauntings being set off because in the course of doing her job she simply sweeps up some dirt without being warned not to beforehand can make for a great movie (see Drag Me to Hell) and it does quickly get you in her mindset of being helpless against these seemingly alien rules. The film, however, just never comes together and is in large part undone by its style. The movie loves it some quick cut jump scares complete with sharp, loud sounds frequently involving strings. When they they weren’t making my brain feel like it was bleeding they had me cracking up in laughter in what is otherwise a very straight horror film. Instead of more subtle music leading up to suspenseful situations, the film instead doubles down on some loud discordant nonsense which immediately robs any of this build. The scenes explaining the ghost month and the dos and don’ts get repetitive real quick as everything is laboriously and condescendingly spelled out after each infraction as well as that she can’t go back. The cinematography and acting (aside from the mentally challenged son which is always such a delicate subject and is questionably handled here) are generally competent but everything adds up to look and sound like middle of the road direct-to-DVD fare if it had been American.
Honestly, my ability to judge twists has just been completely broken. I’ve been dealt so many bad ones this month that all twists are starting to anger me as I just continue to wish for a nice run of twist free films for me to recalibrate. SPOILERSHere they throw in two twists for the price of one (though thankfully together) with the fact that the main couple murdered the previous housekeeper after their son unknowingly raped her with that housekeeper now haunting the current one and that the son is also dead and now a ghost. Breaking these down one by one, rape is such a tricky subject to deal with (hello Silent House) and here, I don’t know I guess its fine plot wise (like I said I don’t even know anymore) even if the scene is shot really goofily, but it still had me groaning when it came up. I still don’t get why she would haunt the current housekeeper instead of the people who murdered her or what any of this pissing off the spirits has to do with it, but fine whatever movie do what you like and see if I care. The second part is just the hoariest plot twist anymore (either that or the apparently popular killer and lead are the same person) and when it came up I just sighed and threw my hands up since the movie had obviously thrown in the towel. I didn’t see it coming but was hardly shocked by it and the movie just could not get me to care. Also, having someone hit by a truck and knocked out of frame will never stop being hilarious and anticlimactic so please don’t use it anymore if you want us to take the scene seriously END OF SPOILERS.
I don’t know if it is just a twist filled stretch or if internationally horror movies are just big on twists, but there just seems to be a greater percentage recently than I am used to and it feels about time for an intervention. At least here it/they didn’t ruin a movie which was already grasping before it/they came.
Month of Horror: World Edition
Bonus Episode #10 – United States: Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990)
Directed by Jeff Burr
After the last movie took a turn to horror-comedy, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III brings things back to straight horror. Regrettably, the film decided that the way to do this was to ape the style of a later Friday the 13thsuccessfully turning the film into a dull slasher. There is just so little to talk about this nothing of a movie. The film is tamer than its predecessor which isn’t necessarily a bad thing considering it worked so well for the first one, but it does prevent even that small bit of enjoyment. It is Friday the 13th: Part 6without the humor or hell without a vaguely interesting plot. There’s no style to be had, it just sort of is.
Pre-fame Viggo Mortensen and Ken Foree of Dawn of the Dead (and Kane Hodder as a stunt double) show up which is cool I guess, but they aren’t really given anything to work with. There is no real scenery to chew here and the one time they let the female lead try to it just comes up flat. Even Leatherface continues his slide away from being an intimidating villain now turning into a third rate Jason knock-off and the amount of time they put into distinguishing his family members is probably less than it took me to write this sentence. It’s hard to get too mad at this movie considering how inoffensively bad it is, but this is easily the worst made film so far this month and just nothing to see here except for completionist sake.
Up Next: Ole Bornedal’s Nightwatch representing Denmark (The 1994 version)