Saturday, November 01, 2014


Because it was October and I love horror movies I finally caught up with this version of the classic tale via NetFlix. I had shunned it for the past twenty five years out of fear it would be a barely gussied up slasher and I was right. While it IS a little more than what I thought it might be, overall it is a sad reduction of the original story that turns the plot into a simple stalk and slash effort of irritating silliness. Strangely, as I was watching it unfold and deteriorate I realized that this approach wasn't actually the problem - the story COULD be boiled down to the components of a typical slasher and still work very well. But the things that trip this film up are two bad choices linked to the audience the producers were aiming to target.

First problem - over the top gore. I have no problem with some well done blood & guts flung across the screen but almost every time its used here its so exaggerated in its extremity that it becomes ridiculous. The filmmakers sling fake blood around the sets like they got a deal at the special effects house. Sometimes more is less.

Second problem- they decided to have their Phantom be both superhumanly strong and able to teleport around his victims. This is the saddest of all slasher movies tropes best seen in all its idiotic glory in FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 8. This is when the villain can magically be dozens of yards from where they were mere seconds before with just the use of a (not so) clever edit. To give this movie credit, the teleportation scenes are done with an identically dressed stand in for star Robert Englund but it is still a ludicrous thing to pull. It yanks me right out of the film and reminds me that the movie isn't really interested in making me invested in the story - it only wants to shock me. Ho hum.

It's sad to see this film fall short when there is evidence of so much effort onscreen. The sets and costumes are very good even if the clothing suffers from that Hollywood problem of being a little to fresh to be believed as everyday wear for these characters. The cinematography is gorgeous, the script isn't bad and most of the cast is solid (the lead actress is a bit wooden) but the slasher ideas end up overwhelming the film and dragging it down.

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