Sunday, October 25, 2009

It's Alive, Unfortunately

If I was hard on Grace for not quite living up to its hype, I’m sorry. If I complained about the second half of Rob Zombie’s Halloween, I apologize. Hell, if I insulted--and I did insult--Halloween 2, I kneel on the crunchy fallen leaves of autumn in atonement. Even the unbearable Black Christmas can get a pass for I have seen what may indeed be Hollywood’s most failed attempt at a horror remake.

The competition is still stiff. The Stepford Wives remains a painful embarrassment for all involved (most notably, the audience) and the rotting stench of The Hitcher was so awful, I had to burn the very clothes I wore the day I screened it. While I love a good dose of Nicolas Cage beating up women while dressed like a bear, I’ll never forgive Neil LaBute for the cinematic sacrilege that is The Wicker Man. But you know, Josef Rusnak’s 2008 remake of the classic 1974 Larry Cohen chiller is kind of horrible in a way that defies any and all kinds of logic.
Quick Plot/Low Points: Grad student Bijou Philips--


No, seriously--

leaves the world’s most spacious college dorm room to have her boyfriend’s baby, seemingly marrying and changing her name to Lenore Davis en route to the hospital. A muddled delivery six months into the pregnancy leaves a few doctors and nurses slaughtered in the OR and Lenore holding a monstrous, then gigantic (perhaps? it also seems to change shape and face, so who really knows) baby boy. The pretty couple brings little Daniel home to meet the rest of the secluded household: uncle Chris, a wheelchair bound 12 year old, and an ill-fated, underloved, and easily forgotten pet cat. Stuff seems to happen. I’ll attempt to list it now:
-Lenore drops out of school because she plans to spend the rest of her life breast feeding and cooing 

-Lenore’s roommate, Marnie, understandably becomes worried and keeps trying to call her. We get riveting scenes of the young woman leaving voicemail. It’s thrilling.
-Chris makes friends with a girl at school. This is important enough to warrant a five minute scene of dialogue. And then we never see her again.
-Police are mildly concerned about the fact that a woman gave birth as six people were brutally murdered around her. But really, who needs to investigate that thoroughly when the new mother seems so well adjusted? Especially when the actors cast as authority figures seem to speak in dubbed looping

-Baby Daniel starts to kill people with awful CGI magic
As a loyal fan of all things Larry Cohen, I didn’t expect to be overly pleased with It’s Alive. Still, I do believe it has a solid base story that could easily be retold in an interesting way for a 21st century audience. But it’s not.
About five minutes into It’s Alive, the seams were beginning to pop. It’s pretty clear that this was either a hastily made rush job or something that had gone through massive recuts during the editing process. I can imagine the director getting tired and looking around for the nearest body to take over. One scene may have indeed been shot by a kitten. It was later edited by that kitten’s hairball. And the script seems to have been written by a dyslexic sloth. 

I’m sorry. That’s insulting to sloths. And dyslexia.
The point it, everything about this film is just not good. The most egregious error comes in the very nature of the Davis baby. We first get a glimpse of him on his way from the home, a little large for a 6 month delivery but normal enough. Then we’re not allowed to to see his face for 80 minutes. Fine enough for suspense, but are we also to believe that neither the kid’s father nor uncle noticed that Daniel had evolved into an infected vampire zombie from I Am Legend? There’s nothing wrong with suspending disbelief for a piece of work, but it’s a whole different story when a film fails to ground its characters in any sense of reality. 
High Points
I like to believe the actual greenlighting of this film yielded a well-deserved royalty check for Larry Cohen. I also like to believe that the innovative filmmaker used said check to make a special order to Elite Hunting and when he arrived in Slovakia, he had a great time with everyone associated with this film.
Lessons Learned
Every mother truly does think he baby is the cutest, even when the infant resembles a cross between a lump of yogurt and a piranha

Doorbells run on battery power
When taking experimental Plan B tablets, it’s probably best to not to wash it down with a glass of Merlot

If you’re going to use a body double to display heaving pregnant breasts, it’s probably a good idea to not cast a naked woman with a DD bra cup and immediately cut to the lead actress covering her more-than-modest assets with a bony arm

Unless you’re a movie masochist or auditioning for a gig on MST3K, do not, under any circumstances, waste 90 minutes on this movie. It’s rare that I get so negative on a film, but It’s Alive is like the first draft of what would eventually become a C- paper. Granted, this may have earned a tad less of my hatred had it not been a remake of another film I cherish, but it remains something that should not have been released in its current form. Maybe I’m just getting grumpy, but I feel insulted as an audience member if this is what studios believe to be passable entertainment. 

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