Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Do Not Watch H.P. Lovecraft's The Tomb

If you slap H.P. Lovecraft's name on a movie, chances are great that I will rent it. If the titled Adam Sandler's latest painful excuse for comedy "H.P. Lovecraft's Chuck & Larry," I might have actually been enticed to watch it. Like one of those poor saps who pine for the perfect relationship and go about it in every possible way but right, I'm one of those hopeless movie romantics still longing for the perfect H.P. Lovecraft movie that might in all likelihood never be made.

Even when Guillermo Del Toro, a competent director, wanted to make what I could only imagine from him to be a perfect cinematic adaptation of a Lovecraft story, Hollywood damn near blocked his plans because it didn't involve a love story. Okay, Hollywood, let's get one thing straight. H.P. Lovecraft didn't write love stories, because love stories don't mix with his lurid visions of insanity that revolutionized modern horror.

Until Del Toro unleashes what I'm sure will be his masterpiece vision of an H.P. Lovecraft story, we'll all be left to endure shlock like this and Beyond the Wall of Sleep, which was equally bad, but at least tried to stay true to its source material. The only thing The Tomb has in common with Lovecraft's story is the title. Not only does this have nothing to do with Lovecraft's story, but it's a laughably poor rip-off of Saw, and it's one of the most horribly produced movies I've ever seen, and that includes everything that exists on YouTube. This makes Transmorphers look like high art.

The distressingly claustrophobic
front cover warns you "Curiosity lures you in." I think I can now safely say: FUCK YOU, curiosity. You're fucking dead to me. This line on the front cover also happens to be the only thing that the movie has in common with the original story. The director threw away the script as soon as the DVD hit the player tray, and we were flying blind ever since.

The synopsis on the
back of the box promises that the movie would follow in the "terrifying vein of Saw." I guess this would be the "curiosity" part that lures the unsuspecting victim in, because anyone who's both read The Tomb and knows anything about Saw would naturally be curious how the two are in any way related. The rest of the synopsis has very little to do with the story at hand. I should have known as soon as it said "introduces the Puppetmaster" that this wouldn't have anything to do with the Lovecraft tale, but I thought at least it would at least attempt to blend the original story with Saw, which it was beginning to sound more like. Nothing could prepare me for the actual horrors that awaited me, digitally imprinted on a small, round sliver of plastic.

I can't exactly pick out which is the worst thing about this movie. It could be the cinematography; it could be the set design; it could be the acting; it could be the plot; it could be the story; it could be the abundant lack of interest due to horrible pacing. I think the worst thing about the movie is the betrayal committed by the actual film once you actually start watching it compared to what's on the box. I mean, we were promised a movie, based on the description, and based on the fact that it comes on a small, round disc in a DVD box, but what we actually get is something that
looks like it was filmed with no direction with someone's cell phone. Let this be a lesson to you: If there are no screencaps anywhere on the DVD box at all, it's to hide the fact that there is absolutely nothing worth seeing inside the box.

There are so many great examples of bad writing I could pick out from the plot and story. I'm going to suffice it to inform you now that this has nothing to do with the Lovecraft story and leave it at that. This way I can discuss the major glaring plot holes without anyone getting sidetracked trying to figure out how it fits in with the story they know. First, when you wake up and have to work your way out of a plastic bag in the basement of some dank, candle-lit warehouse filled with coffins and warpainted baby doll heads, and you discover that you are so badly injured that you have to limp, would your first instinct be to casually explore your new surroundings, or would it be to look for a way out? Tara chooses the former over the latter. She seems perfectly fine with being battered and left to die in some cavernous chamber. Just another normal day for Tara! Maybe her boyfriend into that sort of thing or something.

It takes her thirty minutes to start talking to the next person she finds in the same condition, and half the movie is over before they get the brilliant idea to find a way out, which just ends in frustration as they get lost in the maze of ailses of shelves despite the fact that you can typically see the walls of the warehouse, at most, just fifty feet away from them. Then her male companion, Billy, gets the idea to try to find the guy who's imprisoned them and kill him. They fail at this endeavor as well, despite the fact that the guy is obviously situated directly above them, as evidenced by the pieces of paper containing riddles that
float down over them, and the fact that if they look up, they can see him. I kept mentally shouting at the screen for them to just climb up the shelves and use their little hatchet to smash through the ceiling if they want so badly to kill him.

Another really glaring plot hole was the motivation of the "Puppetmaster" to want to kill these people. In Saw, it was real motivators. It wasn't about the mastermind, it was about the victims. "You don't care about your family;" "you waste your life on drugs;" "you don't believe you have a reason to live, but can you face death?" This guy's motivators for outright killing people is literally: "this girl rejected me;" "this guy stole my girlfriend;" "this guy
sold me a lemon." This guy is going psycho and torturing people to death for things that just happen to people in real life. He has an argument with his girlfriend, so she ends up in a coffin with a hatchet wound in her gut. Everyone has arguments with their girlfriends. That's practically what girlfriends are for, but if that is the sole basis for your twisted acts of violence, the only connection we are going to have with this psychotic killer is to laugh at how stupid he is. And for that, I'd probably end up in a coffin in some moderately small warehouse.

So a bunch of stuff happens, we meet a bunch of people that we don't care about who give us small pieces of information about who this guy is, but we can't piece it together because the sound is so bad you can't really hear what they're saying, and the writing is so bad it takes them upwards of ten minutes to say it. Eventually the guy just has to come out and tell the two main characters who he is because they're equal on the intelligence scale with a sack of wet rocks. Then, for no apparent reason, the male main character tries to kill the female main character in her sleep, but she is stronger than he is despite the fact that he is so much larger than her that he could easily crush her to death just by falling on her and refusing to move, and she ends up killing him in a climactic scene that is somehow less interesting than the rest of the movie.

Once he dies, she is set free through a loading door that opens directly in front of the place they were hanging out through the entire movie. Too bad they got lost looking for it, huh? The Puppetmaster leaves her with
a car and a briefcase full of money, so she accepts it and drives away from her recent prison. I kept expecting the car to blow up upon ignition, to provide a real twist ending to this otherwise shameful movie, but apparently the entire special effects budget was wasted on the title sequence.

Now, normally, when someone has been beaten and left for dead, imprisoned in an abandoned warehouse and made to put people they've watched die into coffins for the sadistic pleasure of some madman, their first inclination is to go to the police, or maybe a hospital to get their wounds attended to, right? Not Tara. She drives to a motel. If I was a motel manager and was confronted with a woman who looked like she had just been raped during an auto accident, my first inclination would be to call an ambulence, if not the police, but this guy just
rents her a room.

In the room,
Bono circa 1989 offers her a chance to keep her car and money if she would agree to have sex with him. Given the premise of the movie, that only one person would live to go free, I think his proposal might have been far more awkward if the heavyset guy were to be the winner. Unable to decide on an ending, the director chooses to first have her tell him to leave, in which case the masked horse rider that has so far done nothing throughout the film except make love to his horse rides up and points at her and rides away. I am at a loss to explain the significance of this character except that maybe the director just really liked horses. However, it has been well-documented in the fandom that whenever someone declines an offer of sex from Bono, a masked horse rider will point at them and ride away. The second alternate ending was to have her accept his offer, in which case they pantomimed sex in fast motion, and the third and thankfully final option was to have her accept his offer just to lure him close enough for her to beat his head in with a lamp, which is precisely what should have been done with the producer of this abomination.

This movie looks like it was filmed using the director's friends in his basement with a cell phone camera. It's poorly written, poorly acted, and poorly constructed. Adding Lovecraft's name to it in order to make it anywhere near appealing should be a cardinal sin. The closest thing this thing has to do with Lovecraft is that watching it will make a person's brain twist into total madness. Yes, we may have yet to get the perfect film adaption of an H.P. Lovecraft tale of horror, but in watching this monstrosity, you will certainly live one.

"Eight nails, who fails?" We all do, but none more heinously than every single person involved with this movie, including me for watching it. Let this review serve as a warning. Unless Guillermo Del Toro or maybe John Carpenter produces it, just avoid movies with H.P. Lovecraft's name slapped on them. Don't worry, though, I will probably continue to watch them all, so I'll let you know if anything good doubtfully tumbles down the pike.

np: Love Sculpture - "Sabre Dance"

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