Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Once Upon a Time, The World Was Very Boring

Cannibals! Felicity! Genital Feasts!

It would take a lot for this movie not to work, right?

Quick Plot: A grad student named Kate (a straight-haired, monotone speaking Keri Russell) has moved to Germany to write her thesis on the infamous cannibal murder of Oliver and Simon (based on the bizarre real-life case of Armin Meiwes). As Kate investigates what led these two men to such extremes, we watch flashbacks of, well, what led these two men to such extremes. Just like Kate investigates. And then we watch. Her investigate.

For a movie about sexy thrill-seeking cannibals, Grimm Love sure is a drag. The film gets to a terribly drab start with Russell's Valium-induced voiceover, a rambling soliloquy about loneliness and the desire to find someone who can see inside of you. If the content didn't seem dull enough, perhaps the fact that Russell's enthusiasm makes Harrison Ford's Blade Runner exposition sound like Robin Williams' Aladdin Genie should clue you in.

Directed by Martin Weisz (he of the recent Hills Have Eyes 2, and yes, that's the one with more rape and less dog flashbacks than Wes Craven's original), Grimm Love is indeed a grim tale. I don't mean that as a compliment. Weighted down in dark eyeshadow and raccoon liner, Keri Russell is woefully miscast, though the character of Kate is even more woefully underdeveloped. IMDB trivia explains that a lot of scenes were eliminated from the final cut, which on one hand, explains the incompleteness, but on the other, is horrifying in itself. The Netflix streaming edition ran at 94 minutes, and while I've had had dental work that lasted longer, I swear it felt like a breeze compared to what must have been the LONGEST 94 MINUTE MOVIE OF ALL TIME.

This was a slog.

The idea is certainly ripe for a film adaptation. Why WOULD a man willfully submit himself to be eaten (penis-first) by a stranger, and what kind of stranger has such a particular appetite? It's almost as if Grimm Love figured out all too late that such questions are truly fascinating when explored, not when we watch them be explored by a third party. As Kate tracks down news articles and breaks into abandoned homes, we get flashbacks that follow both men through their child and adult years. Early scenes are even (rather annoyingly) portrayed as if they were grainy 8MM projections, a trick that might work in a better movie but here felt like a last-ditch effort to bring something visually interesting to the otherwise drab palette.

I never thought I'd be so bored by a film that includes a scene where a man--not just any man, but Karate Dog's Thomas Kretschmann, for pete's sake--made an anatomically correct male figure out of butter and ate the phallus as if it were the last Twinkie on the shelf. Maybe it was the fact that the previous scene featured his soon-to-be meal begging a hooker to, and I quote, "Bite my thing off!" that killed the element of surprise. Maybe my standards are insanely high when it comes to anatomically correct butter men and Karate Dog alumni.

Or maybe Grimm Love is just a boring movie.

High Notes
Look, I'm not arguing with the IDEA behind Grimm Love, right down to its exploration of two gay men with mother issues and insecurities. THAT'S practically golden. But when you chop it up and let a dull grad student shoot it out with the energy of a sloth, you end up with--

Low Notes
This movie

Stray Observations
At 31, I'm at an age where I and my peers could indeed decide to complete our college education with a masters degree or doctorate. And yet, of all my friends and acquaintances, I think I know two currently enrolled. So why, I ask, is approximately 83% of all horror film protagonists grad students? Do they just make better movie prey, or do I just hang out with the uneducated?

Lessons Learned
A bedroom says a lot about a person

One should always find the right balance between cannibalism and sunshine

People taste like pork

Unless your number one sexual fantasy is watching a pseudo-goth grrrrl Felicity surf the internet, I suggest you give Grimm Love a pass. Sure, it's more competently made than a good deal of the grad-student-based horror films currently streaming on Instant Watch, but if the price of decent product values is anything interesting onscreen, then you can give me my shot-on-video boom mike falls any day.


  1. I already watched this a couple of weeks ago. I should have waited for you to drop your expertise. I thought it was boring too, but the biggest thing was that it was like it was shoving the following in my face: "hey, wait till this civilized grad student, who thinks she has a handle on facts and shit, actually confronts the horror that man is capable of", but it just becomes annoying and heavy handed because it doesn't really deliver on that. The dude is less the purest horror humanity is capable of and more a dude who is inexplicably weird.

    Goth grad Keri Russell is pretty hot, but only if she's actually doing stuff and not just sitting there staring at a computer screen.

  2. And the big 'confrontation' was what? SHe watches a fuzzy video and cries. Eyeliner smeared. CHARACTER CHANGE!

    GAH this made me ANGRY!

  3. "an anatomically correct male figure out of butter and ate the phallus as if it were the last Twinkie on the shelf. Maybe it was the fact that the previous scene featured his soon-to-be meal begging a hooker to, and I quote, "Bite my thing off!" that killed the element of surprise." - probably the best line I'll read all year long. Thank you Emily!

  4. Just doing my part, one doughy phallus at a time.

  5. I've watched this streaming on Netflix. Yes, boring parts indeed, but I still found interest in this movie because it's based on a true occurrence. I guess that alone had me captivated just by mere akward human behaviors! Also, I was educated on how cannibals like their meals!!!

    1. True, it's always good to know how you might one day be cooked!