Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Clarissa Explains Why It Sucks

Oh, Saw. You’re such an influential little franchise, aren’t you? Between popularizing torture porn (and all the debates that come with it) and giving me reasons to post serious photos of Costas Mandylor looking smarmy, you somehow found the time to birth knockoffs produced by and starring Sabrina, the Teenaged Witch.

That’s impressive. I work full-time, speak on a podcast to which my cohostess does all the tech work for, keep two mentally challenged cats alive, and write this blog and those busybee activities are enough to excuse me from ever cooking, cleaning, or do my own laundry more than once a month.
That was a tangent, yes, but Nine Dead is a rather awful film that, if nothing else, merits such detours. The movie does it itself by teasing us with the credit of “Daniel Baldwin” in the opening list, giving the (admittedly lesser) super brother an early line, then proceeding without his further involvement, thus leading the audience to occasionally wonder when bored (i.e., often) if he’s ever coming back.
Quick Plot: Nine strangers of various obnoxiousness are kidnapped by a masked man disguised as a knockoff performer for the Blue Man Group. In a deep, vaguely familiar of a much better television show voice, our mysterious mastermind explains that he has gathered these people in a Jigsaw-leased basement for a very specific reason. When the group figures out exactly what that is, they will be free to go home. In the meantime, Not Blue Man will return to kill one person every 10 minutes.

And so, like so many films before it, Nine Dead gives us a batch of unlikable characters shouting at each other for 90 minutes. Nobody really stands out, but I did wisely record them by type: White Guy, Lax Christian Guy Conveniently Named Christian, Chinese Woman,  Greasy Loan Shark Strip Club Keeper, Priest, Sweater Vest, Child Molester, Sabrina, and Black Guy Who Accuses All the Others of Being Racist, Yet Makes Me Have to Refer to Him As ‘Black Guy’ Because He Refuses To Tell the Others His Name For 30 Minutes.
There’s a lot of arguing, mini revelations, and dull red herrings that seem to exist more to pad the running time than add insight to character or story. Hearing Melissa Joan Hart recount her past trauma of sexual abuse is probably supposed to garner her some last minute character depth, but considering I had spent the previous hour hoping her name was next on the death list, I just didn’t care. The final revelation--no spoilers, I promise--isn’t overly far-fetched, but it’s also not very interesting. Much like the entire film itself.
High Points
The fact that the character I first dubbed ‘Stache proved to be a child molester allowed me to then alter his name to the catchy and convenient ‘Molestache’
Low Points
A sample of why some of this film’s writing is atrocious: 
“Hail Mary, full of grace, the lord is...the lord is...DAMN! I can’t remember the rest!”  moans Christian. 
I’m not complaining about a character praying in a time of need or forgetting the words, but if you think logically, most people memorize these kinds of chants by line, not each individual word. Would anybody really forget “with thee?” No, they would forget the next verse.

While any attempt at creative killing would have further drawn the Saw rip-off criticism, gunshots to the chest just aren’t that interesting, especially by the ninth shot
Lessons Learned
A math quiz: You must connect 9 people (6 of whom are deceased) in order to survive. Ff there is a 30% chance that you will be shot dead in 10 minutes and a 70% chance that someone else with information will be shot in 10, followed by a 50% chance that you will be shot in 20 plus a 50% chance that someone else with key information will be killed instead,  and a 100% certainly that you will die in 30 if you haven't figured convoluted plotting out, then how stupid are you for allowing the annoying DA to slowly tell her dramatic rape story, complete with inconsequential details about her feelings of power?
Never underestimate the importance of mastering the game of Pictionary
When planning on raping a spunky DA, remember to keep your baseball equipment out of reach
Eh. Instant Watch or not, there’s hardly anything in Nine Dead worth recommending. Not exploitive enough for trashy fun and nowhere near suspenseful for an actual good viewing. I imagine digging into Daniel Baldwin’s imdb catalog will yield something more interesting. Let’s see:

Yup. Lots better to choose from.


  1. Is 'Molestache' pronounced 'mole' then 'stache' or 'mol-es' 'tache'?

    Just wondered... also, good review :D I'm still kinda curious in it just because it is Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

  2. I read this review with the same trepidation that comes from bringing your pet in to be neutered. NotLP warned me! They would have warned you, had you but listened.

    You are delightfully clever though, so please continue to observe and report.

  3. Liam: Mol-es-tache, or Molastache, if you will.

    Damocles: NotLP has a habit of reviewing films I'm about to watch, but don't want spoiled, so I'll listen to the first half and then pause and save to get back to it later. Such is the case with this one (and Rec 2 and The descent 2) and often, it leaves me feeling foolish. I'm sure I'll be even more entertained though in hindsight!

  4. But you're review gave me such a chuckle, now I have to watch it!

  5. Emily,
    I'm loving the sound of this movie. I need to see it, immediately. That picture of Melissa Joan is both endearing & horrifying.
    Thanks for bringing this to my attention!

  6. Nooooo! My best efforts have only led you both closer to pain! It's just like when somebody travels back in time to change the world, only to discover said journey is the very reason it's wrong in the first place.

    Sigh. At least I'll be entertained by both of your reviews.

  7. Haha, great review. I haven't seen this yet, and am still undecided, but I know that I'll most likely end up watching this eventually. Damn my bad movie obsession!!

    It sounds like I'd be better off watching Clarissa Explains it All though. Maybe they should have made this movie about Janet Darling holding Marshall, Clarissa, and Ferguson hostage, after finally consuming a bit too much carob and thus going insane.

  8. Great review. I saw this a couple months ago and forgot how atrocious it was till you took me down memory lane. A trip worth taking I might add. I did think "Molestache" was fairly effective at wearing a mustache; not much else really to reccomend.

    And DB was in "Nothing but Trouble?" All I remember from that film was Digital Underground performing in front of Dan Akroyd with the worst old man make-up I've ever seen and John Candy in drag. In Daniel's defense, he is the fourth most talented living Baldwin. So, there's that.

  9. Emily, (weird saying my own name), I know your pain all too well. Reminds me of when I learned about the existence of Death Bed: The Bed That Eats. There was this brief excitement, followed by the sad realization that it would never be as good as I imagined, but that no matter what, it would end up on my DVD player. I feel that way far too often.

    0n a happier note, the second suggestion--Clarissa & the Carob--sounds absolutely incredible.

    Jonathon: I too had no idea that DB made an appearance in Nothing But Trouble (he's credited as "Dealer #1/Artie") which is bizarre because I used to watch that movie every other 2 hours, as it once accounted for about 50% of HBO's afternoon programming and at that time, I had a huge schoolgirl crush on Alec Baldwin. You'd think I would have noticed the presence of Version 1 (I say this as I realize that the Baldwins have a certain Ripley in Alien: Resurrection quality to them, except baby Stephen had to be a freak accident). I guess I was too busy paying attention to the awfulness of that film and how I still managed to watch it. Every. Time.

  10. I tried to watch this a while back. Got 15 minutes in and gave up.

    Have never looked back.

  11. I know I'm in the minority here (or better: the only one) but I kinda liked it. In my opinion it's one of the better Saw knockoffs. It would have needed a little polishing here and there though.
    It's not great by any means but it's an ok watch.

    Side notes:
    - MJH('s character) should go on and kill the person who gave her those clothes to wear.
    - Why the hell is the obviously Chinese woman speaking Japanese?

    1. I can always agree with 'it could have been worse.' Unless we're talking about the It's Alive remake. That might be my key mark on the barometer.

      MJH clearly pissed someone off in wardrobe. I think she seems like something of a nightmare in real life (although her home town is just two stops away from mine, so eastern Long Island represent) so I'm guessing it was just a costume designer being karmic. And you have to love Asian lazy racism in low budget horror films!