Well, here it is:
I said I would revisit it and I did.
Some of you have heard me bash it here, but some of you may even remember me bashing it for years over on RT. But people keep defending it. So I gave it another spin.
And guess what?
It's not that fucking bad. It's really not. I can see why people, well, horror-people, who are, by their nature, very, very
forgiving, like this movie. I mostly enjoyed it myself.
That said, I did have to actively exercise a lot
of forgiveness to do so.
The thing is the movie starts out really well and moves along with a good bit of Carpenter style and competent filmmaking and good music and so forth for about 30 minutes or so before it slows down pretty significantly and i actually got bored for a while. When things get going, it basically consists of the actors in the movie becoming possessed, which is represented by, in some cases, a slight pallor to their makeup, and in other cases nothing more than how they act. In one hilarious case, a badly-balding chubby guy who died from a broken neck, stalks the others with merely his head turned to the right. That's it, that's the whole effect of having a broken neck, he just turned his head to the right and looked forward with his eyes. I laughed out loud when he walked out like that. And there's a chunk of the movie where these two just stand there like this and it's supposed to be scary.
Now, take that image out of context right quick, that image above is supposed to be scary. That's literally just two women standing next to each other with blank expressions on their face. Without the context, they could just be patiently waiting for an ice cream cone. The movie lingers on this "menace" for like 15 minutes.
Another hilarious part is a guy who locks himself in a closet and tells the people on the other side of the wall to dig him out but makes no effort to dig from his side for like 2 hours. Even though they tell him it could take hours, he does nothing from his side. When he is finally attacked, he is able to rip through the wall in like under a minute.
At one point, the hero drops down from a window into an alley that is bordered by... a fence! A fence that a 10 year-old could jump. But as he is descended on by homeless people, instead of just jumping the fence and fleeing to safety and getting help (which was, I assume, the point?), he clambers back up into a second-story window, barely escaping death, and ending up right back where he was. What was even the point of that scene?
A woman, who up until this point has probably been the least-noticeable character in the movie, gets a bruise from bumping into something. Not from touching the weird artifact0thingy, but just a random piece of equipment in the room. Later the bruise has turned into a very clear, two-inch by two-inch raised symbol on her skin, and she just shrugs it off and goes to take a nap.
At one point, three guys who we think are trapped in the building somehow meet in the middle of some huge back courtyard behind the church from which it appears literally anyone and everyone could have just escaped. But they go back inside and no one tries to get out this way again.
I could go on and on, and maybe even bringing up that approximately half the actors in this movie were able to act, but I will not dwell on the negatives here.
There are moments. There's some things done with insects and worms that are interesting. There's a cup of maggots. One dude sort of melts into a pile of beetles and falls apart. There's some backstory about a Brotherhood Of Sleep and about a dream that is not a dream but a warning from the future, which was interesting. (Unfortunately, there was also some less than half-baked stuff about the Father Of Satan, who may have been an alien and somehow he was stuck in the mirror-world, and some silly pseudo-physics mumbo-jumbo, and Jesus was actually some kind of soldier in the war against this demon, mumbo-jumbo, something, something). Finally the movie climaxes when one, and only one, of the possessed actually looks sort of scary for a bit, or at least like someone accidentally spilled a pizza on a blonde woman with a pony-tail. The pony-tail makes it.
Now, really, I actually did kind of like this movie just for its Carpenterism and some good-looking parts and some of the stuff he was trying to do here, and Donald Pleasance mumbling Donald Pleasancisms, and Victor Wong trying to make the shit he had to say not sound totally ridiculous... and I would watch it again - I wouldn't choose it, maybe, but I'd watch it again if a friend did or something. But I really do think that the best way to describe it is, like the pizza-lady, half-baked. Some of the ideas make sense and some of them make nonsense, and I don't think even Carpenter knew how he was going to make his premise turn into something scary for 90-ish minutes, and so it's really not for most of its run-time, and it is eye-rolling and laughable at some points. But, it's actually not at all meritless and I've seen much
worse horror movies.