June 7, 2006

DVD Review: It Waits

It Waits is a straight to video feature, and it feels like one. I should have known going in that it would not live up to its concept. I was attracted to the promise of a beast straight out of Native American legend, what I got was a horror film filtered through the Lifetime channel and ending up like a movie about the dangers of drinking and dealing with your mistakes. I did not get much of a killer critter as I had hoped.

We open with a group of inquisitive Native Americans seeking out the reality behind one of their legends. Their search brings them to a rock face which they proceed to blast a hole through. Behind the wall they discover paintings on the wall, then they hear something. Horror veterans will know that these types of actions never lead to anything good. Needless to say, this is the last we see of this group.

We are introduced to Dani (Cerina Vincent), a forest ranger with a past. She is stationed deep in the woods, and right from our first introduction we know she is troubled. She is sitting on the ground behind a desk with a bottle of vodka and tears in her eyes. Now this is where the films troubles begin. For a long stretch, starting here, forget that this is a monster movie, we are now in the realm of made-for-television moral drama. The story delves into Dani's past, it seems that in the recent past she was responsible for the death of her girlfriend. She didn't own up to the accident, and has since driven a wedge between her and her boyfriend, and resulted in her taking this deep forest assignment where she can hide with her bottle.

Before long, said boyfriend, I guess ex at this point, arrives to check on her. She says she's fine, we get the requisite tender moment between the two, including one of the darkest love scenes ever filmed. Then they hear some noises, and a brief attack on the outpost reminds the audience that this is actually a monster movie.

A couple of victims are introduced so we can see the creature in action, or in as much action as the budget will allow. This leads to the appearance of a character whose sole purpose is to convey the legend that explains the creature and why it may be after Dani. This sets her off on a one woman army, dead set on taking down said creature.

Everything is completely generic. The pacing is slow, the acting is bad, the dialog is ludicrous. The story ignores the interesting aspects, primarily the legend, instead focusing on the woe is me story of the lead. I could not buy into any of the presented characters, I really didn't care as I found the story to be rather off-putting due to the sappy focus. And don't even get me started on the dubbed parrot! "Uh Oh.... This sucks!"

Cerina Vincent, while gorgeous to look at, is not much of an actress. She doesn't have the range to carry this film. I thought she did a better job shaving her skin off in Cabin Fever. She is joined by Dominic Zamprogna as the love interest, he has the second most screen time, and not much else to do.

I cannot say it is a complete failure, some of the cinematography out in the woods looks absolutely fantastic, there are some gorgeous shots out in the trees. Plus, the flashback footage looks very cool, and the director discusses it in the commentary about how it was done in camera with a hand crank, interesting stuff. Aside from that I just felt disconnected from the proceedings.

Video. The DVD is presented in an anamorphically enhanced ratio of 1.77:1. The transfer does look good, showing off some nice cinematography in the woods. The blacks are deep and the mood is well represented.

Audio. We get two Dolby Digital tracks, 5.1 and 2.0. They both do a good job, even with those lousy sappy songs (sung by the director's wife) that pop up throughout.

Extras. Complimenting the film are a couple of worthwhile extras.
-Featurette: Blood on the Pines. This runs nearly 21 minutes and features interviews with director Steven R. Monroe, producer Stephen J. Cannell (yes the man behind The A-Team), the creature Matt Jordan, and Cerina Vincent (wearing a t-shirt emblazoined with "They're Real and They're Spectacular). This was a pretty good segment taking a look at the legend and what it was like shooting in Vancouver.
-Commentary featuring Steven R. Monroe and Cerina Vincent. I listened to a good portion of this track, and it is actually pretty good. There is a lot of back slapping going on, but you also get some interesting stories about the shooting of certain scenes, the technical aspects, dealing with inclement whether and more.

Bottomline. May be worthy of a rental for those of you hungry for anything, but that is as far as I can really recommend it. The creature looks like the Creeper from Jeepers Creepers. It is not terribly scary as it has that Lifetime filter firmly in place for much of the runtime, threatening to completely remove the creature aspect in favor of the dangers of drinking and personal strength in dealing with your personal demons.

Not Recommended.
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