I was one of three people who showed up to my local theater to see Isle of Dogs. The other two walked out about thirty minutes in.

And we wonder why movie studios keep giving us garbage.

At least Isle of Dogs earned a 4.5 out of 5 from me.


A Quiet Place (1.5/5)

So I just saw the new movie A Quiet Place, and it was pretty freaking bad. This is going to be another Lights Out situation, isn’t it?

First off, the premise of a family desperately trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world invaded by creatures that hunt humans based on sound is a genius idea. Seriously, this idea had so much potential. But the idea was handled by people who had no idea what this idea’s potential could be. The premise is wasted on such a poorly written script.

So the movie focuses on this one family that lives out of this farmhouse surrounded by forest. They survive by scavenging for food and supplies in the nearby town, and have developed a few various practices to get around without making any noise. They speak entirely in sign language. And yet, even over a year after the apocalypse, they continue to make such basic errors.

The opening scene in this movie made me roll my eyes. It starts off with this five-member family – father, mother, daughter, and two sons – having all gone to this drugstore to get some prescription meds for the oldest son, even though a single parent could have come along while the other parent had the other two kids at home. While the mother is getting the meds, the other two kids are just running through the store on their own. The youngest son, who’s like five years old, spots a toy space shuttle on a shelf, and tries to get it by standing on a stool. But he’s still a little too short, as though he manages to grab the toy, he doesn’t get a good enough grip on it, and it falls, the daughter just barely catching it before it hits the floor. And when the family gets the oldest son the meds and leave the store, the youngest son asks his dad if he can take the space shuttle toy. The dad, of course, says no, as the toy would make a LOT of noise, and draw the creatures to them. He takes the batteries out of the toy and sets it on a table/shelf/something that is still in arm’s reach of the youngest son. The parents walk out of the store not even looking back to see if their children are following them, and the daughter hands the youngest son the toy. And because the dad was so freaking stupid, the youngest son swipes the batteries. And then while the family is walking home, the youngest son is in the back of the line for some reason. You’d think that one of the parents might want to be bringing up the rear. The family gets to and starts crossing a bridge over a river. The youngest son is the only one who has not set foot on the bridge, and he pulls out his freaking toy and turns it on. Of course, it makes a buttload of noise, the family obviously takes a few seconds too long to realize it, and the dad obviously takes a few seconds too long to start running to his son. A cracking noise is heard in the woods, and a creature starts running toward the youngest son. Though the dad is less than twenty feet away from his son, he of course runs just slowly enough for him to barely miss the creature pouncing on and killing his son. Though shouldn’t the creature now be after the dad too? I guess not. Movie logic. Oh, and after this scene, the son needing to take meds never comes into play again.

And the rest of the plot is just as stupid. Throughout the first half of the movie, scenes just kinda sorta happen. There’s not really any natural flow. No scene even attempts to transition to the next. Each scene feels so self-contained and separate from the rest of the movie. The first half of the movie is one of the most poorly constructed first halves of a movie I have seen in years, and it makes me feel like there was a half hour or so of material in there that the studio cut out. And every single plot point can be predicted about twenty minutes before it happens. Also, this is yet another horror movie in which the plot cannot progress unless people are stupid, things mess up, and really irksome conveniences occur.

And every single scary sequence happens either completely at random or because things happen in a way that is convenient for the plot. For example, after the father and son go to the river to check on their fish traps, they head home and come across some random house. At the house, they find an old guy standing over his vivisected wife, and the old guy commits suicide by screaming and drawing the attention of the creatures. It literally happens out of nowhere. It could have been cut out of the movie and nothing of value would have been lost. And in an earlier scene, the son and daughter are playing Monopoly, and the son lands on a property owned by the daughter. As he reaches back to get some Monopoly money to pay the rent, he accidentally knocks over the oil lantern, creating a loud noise. This in turn leads to a scary sequence that results in nothing and could have been cut from the movie.

Occasionally, the movie will have the camera linger on a particular item in a painfully obvious attempt at foreshadowing. I rolled my eyes every time this happened. For example, one day while the mother was doing laundry in the basement, the laundry bag caught on a nail sticking out of a stair. She didn’t notice what it was caught on, so she just tugged at the bag until it came free, leaving the nail sticking straight up. And as the camera lingered on it, I rolled my eyes and thought, I wonder if someone’s going to step on that later. And it happened, and said happening led to the creation of a loud noise alerting the creatures. And it was hilarious.

Another stupid thing about the plot was that apparently the death of the youngest son in the beginning affected the daughter, apparently making her feel personally responsible, even though we had to be told that rather than be shown it through her acting and actions. But this causes her to go out by herself to the spot the youngest son died and just hang out there literally all day. And this obviously led to a lot of forced drama later in the movie. Which begs the question of not only this scene, but a few other scenes as well: why does anyone go out to hang out at some location (i.e. a beach) when any of the creatures could be anywhere?

Another stupid thing was that the writers of this movie clearly did not know how to properly tell a story and develop characters with minimal dialogue, so they decided to make up some excuses to get the characters to be able to talk normally in a few scenes, in which the characters in these scenes spell out stuff for us about the other characters even though these things could have been shown to us earlier in the movie had the writer actually known how to write a movie with minimal dialogue. It gets even worse when you hear in one of these conversations that in the almost four hundred days since the youngest son’s death, the father has not even once told his daughter that the youngest son’s death wasn’t her fault or even something as freaking basic as “I love you”.

Oh, and the main source of conflict in the plot is the fact that the mother is having a baby. Isn’t that just the absolute dumbest thing she could do in a post-apocalyptic scenario in which there are creatures roaming the planet that hunt humans by sound? Don’t you know how much screaming is involved in the birthing process? And afterward, do you have any idea how much noise babies make? Even if you somehow birth the baby without attracting every creature within a hundred miles, the amount of noise a baby makes will certainly kill you off.

And then literally the last half of the movie is the climax. I’m not kidding. The last forty to forty-five minutes of this movie are the climax. The second half of the movie is literally all climax and feels like one ridiculously long scene. It literally goes from first act to third act with nothing in between. Look to this as a lesson about how not to do pacing. It looks and feels so different from the first half that it’s legitimately distracting. It acts like it’s injecting so much tension into the last half of the movie that by the time we reach the intended climax, it just feels tedious and boring. The movie certainly knew how it wanted to begin and end, but it has no middle at all, and had no idea how to make the rest of the movie reflect the overlong, overblown climax.

To compensate for the second half, the first half needed to be at least an hour long. It really needed to immerse the audience in the characters’ daily lives, and really show us the details about life after the apocalypse. It really needed to get the audience involved in the family’s extreme aversion to making sound. Because in what little time we have for exposition, the movie is really bad at telling the story visually.

And I’m not going to spoil the ending, but it features more conveniences, more dumb decisions, a massive plothole that I’ll actually discuss later, the cheesiest heroic sacrifice ever, the stupidest weakness for the creatures ever, and an ending that literally just cuts the movie off before what would have been the actual climax. A Quiet Place is not even a complete movie, and the only redeeming quality about the ending is that it doesn’t tell us to go to a freaking website before the credits roll.

Oh, and the movie really doesn’t bother with character at all. Yeah, they’re acted decently, even though the only undeniably good performances came from Emily Blunt and the young lady who played the deaf daughter, but literally the only character traits in the entire movie are spelled out in the various scenes in which the characters actually talk.

I’d be more forgiving if the movie’s approach to horror wasn’t so misguided.

The most important aspect of this is the creatures themselves. They are aliens. Yes, aliens. They are sort of quadrupedal spider-ish dark-brown-skinned reptilian beasts. The fact that I can actually describe what they look like is a problem. See, in a movie like A Quiet Place, this would be the perfect opportunity to show as little of the creatures as possible, if at all. But no. We get to see the creatures pretty clearly surprisingly early on in the movie, and whenever they’ve heard someone and are running toward them to attack, the movie’s really inconsistent on how loud they can be. Worse, the movie exlains very clearly what they are and what they do. This really kills most of the tension later, as most of the tension in a good movie about evil monsters comes from the fact that 1) we never actually get to really see the monsters, let alone get a good look at them, and when you hear the monster, it’s already on top of you, and 2) we rarely, if ever, get any sort of information on what the monsters are and what they can do. But A Quiet Place has seemingly never heard of such an idea. However, showing the monsters and explaining their origins and how they work isn’t an automatic movie-killer. But if you’re going to show your monsters, then it needs to be shown that not only are they supremely intelligent, but they kill in a particularly brutal fashion. The movie should turn into a battle of wits between the main characters and the monster. For example, throughout A Quiet Place, I was waiting impatiently for a scene in which the creatures actually set a trap for the main characters. And if you’re going to explain the origins of the creatures and how they work, you need to make them something more complex and interesting than just mindless killing machines. They need to actually have a purpose to be here on our planet.

But beyond all that, though the movie does try and explain too much about the creatures, there are other areas that it doesn’t explain at all but needed to. For example, how do these creatures move about normally? They’re clearly blind, so do they use echolocation like bats? I occasionally heard the creatures make clicking sounds like the clickers in The Last of Us, but it’s pretty rare. Even worse, there are a few scenes in the movie where the creatures are literally right up in a person’s face. If they “saw” via echolocation, then the characters in front of the creatures would have gotten ripped to shreds. And even if it wasn’t echolocation, if a creature got up that close to one of the characters, it would have absolutely felt the heat waves radiating off the character’s body and attacked. Echolocation is literally the only way these creatures could feasibly move around and hunt, but the movie can’t even be consistent with it, as it literally only works when the plot says so. Assuming that the creatures saw via echolocation, I was hoping that there would be a scene where a creature or three would intentionally create a bunch of noise possibly by knocking some really big things over to really “illuminate” the area. But no such scene happened. Oh, and the eventual revelation of the creatures’ weakness is painfully stupid.

But even beyond just the creatures, this movie’s approach to horror is still misguided. One of the most important things a horror movie needs to nail is its sound design, and in A Quiet Place, it’s sound design is completely antithetical for the approach to horror it needed to utilize. It most desperately needed to utilize quiet, and in some cases, silence. There are few better things a horror movie can utilize to really ramp up the tension is silence. But A Quiet Place only has very minimal knowledge of that strategy. And another thing to do would be to play with ambient noise. You know, the sounds you hear in the background in your home or out in the woods or something. We normally brush those off as normal. But A Quiet Place had such an opportunity to use ambient noise to its advantage. Maybe the creatures could also be quiet. After all, creatures just bumbling through the forest are pretty loud, and alert pretty much anyone to their presence. Maybe the creatures could learn from the noises in the woods or on the farm, and learn to blend into or mimic the ambient noises. And the creatures could learn how to hide and sneak up on people without making a sound. That’s where the fear would come in: the paranoia of not knowing if the sounds you’re hearing are the creatures or not. And even worse, the soundtrack, while not bad, is not only entirely unnecessary, but it is facepalmingly intrusive. Instead of letting the audience draw their own conclusions about how they’re supposed to feel based on the characters’ actions and emotions, the producers shoehorned in a soundtrack that was clearly designed to tell audiences how to feel.

But just toss all that out the window, because we’ve got JUMPSCARES! Okay, there’s really not that many, but they are insanely loud, and they happen just often enough to be irksome. And the worst thing about them is that one happened within seconds every time I thought to myself, Hey, they’re not doing too bad at creating tension here. BOOM! JUMPSCARE!

And it certainly doesn’t help that literally every scary sequence happened either out of convenience or because a character just screwed up. For example, remember that nail sticking out of the step earlier? Well, after the daughter strikes out on her own, the mother’s water breaks. When the mother goes down into the basement to hopefully prevent her screams from making too much noise, she steps on the freaking nail, and she drops a framed family photo, which shatters on the ground. It makes a huge noise, which alerts the monsters and heralds in the ridiculously long climax.

But the one horror-related thing that A Quiet Place missed the boat on entirely was subtlety. There is no subtlety to be found here. Everything is straightforward, in your face, and spelled out for you. There is no room for thinking or imagination. There is only Zuul.

Had this movie approached its premise in the same manner as It Comes at Night, we could have had a fantastic movie on our hands. A Quiet Place desperately needed to be as dark and bleak and hopeless as possible. It needed to be about the sheer desperation about the struggle to survive in a situation that was growing increasingly hopeless. Yeah, we could have still had an attempt to figure out the creatures’ weakness, but it should have been fruitless. Maybe the family could have come across other humans and the element of mistrust and paranoia could have been at least touched upon. And maybe, just maybe, the focus could have been on the depths we will stoop to in order to protect the ones we love, how there’s no way such a dark crusade could possibly end happily, and that the real monsters were on the inside all along.

And one very basic thing A Quiet Place needed to do was to go to some really dark places. For example, there is a scene in the climax after the mother has given birth to a baby boy and is hiding down in a soundproof shelter while the father goes out to rescue his kids. As both the mother and the baby rest, the shelter starts flooding from some vague source because convenience. And the mother wakes up to see a creature descending into the shelter and going under the now three-foot-deep water. She slowly steps into the water, slowly walks over to her whimpering baby, picks him up, and backs away against a wall. But the creature slowly rises from the water, walks toward the mother, and gets up in her face. The baby is audibly whimpering enough for the creature to hear it. So this gives the mother a choice. Does she let the baby continue whimpering and definitely let both of them die, or does she smother the baby to death and potentially save herself? Which choice does she make? The answer, of course, is for the movie to cut the scene off and cut back to the events outside. And when the movie cuts back to the mother, she’s descending the stairs into the basement with her child. I have absolutely no idea what happened in between those two scenes.

A few more things that annoy me.

  • The dad has this room not connected to the house where he has all these security camera feeds on TVs and has a radio he’s trying to use to contact other people. This is also the room in which he does his research on the creatures, with different newspapers pasted all over the place. These newspapers are from during the initial invasion. My question is: How were all these newspapers printed out and delivered without making a sound?
  • Throughout much of the first half, there’s this constant ear ringing sound that was kind of pissing me off after a while.
  • Why does the family navigate the area on trails of sand that have been poured onto the dirt roads?
  • How does this family harvest all the various foodstuffs they’re growing on this farm without making a sound?
  • Has the family never made any attempt to soundproof the house?
  • What exactly is the point of all those lights around the field? From the trailer, it looked like they would turn red if a creature walked onto the property, but not only is that not the case in the movie, but the only thing the red lights ever did was alert the returning dad, son, and daughter that the creatures were on the property during the climax.

A Quiet Place is thoroughly disappointing, It’s predictable. It takes no risks. It has no subtlety. It’s as deep as a puddle. It lacks any sort of bite whatsoever. It’s not allowed to by the studio, because that would be slightly different, and in Hollywood, different equals risky business. It Comes at Night was not predictable, took risks, had subtlety, was as deep as an ocean, and had an extremely brutal bite, and was far and away the absolute best film of 2017. And look what’s happened to it: though critics liked it, audiences hated it, barely anyone went to see it, and it’s been forgotten already.

A Quiet Place gets a 1.5 out of 5. I would have given it a 1, but I’ve seen many 1 out of 5 movies that I would consider worst.

Day of the Dud: Brainfart (.5/5)

So I just saw Day of the Dead: We Couldn’t Think of a Title So We Just Called It Bloodline, and it’s going to be a cold day in Hell if there’s a worse zombie movie in the next five years.

So I should probably briefly talk about what I think of George Romero’s original Dead trilogy. Well, I think Night of the Living Dead is the best zombie movie ever made, as well as one of the greatest horror movies of all time. Dawn of the Dead is pretty excellent too, but just not as good. Day of the Dead is even better than Dawn, but it’s not as great as Night. Night gets a 5 from me, Dawn gets a 4.5, and Day gets a 5. I’m not kidding; this is one of the best horror trilogies ever.

But Day of the Dead: Bloodline is not even worth the corn in the original Day of the Dead‘s poop.

So the movie starts off in the middle of the zombie apocalypse, with zombies everywhere (running zombies, by the way) killing people through crappy effects and cartoonishly hilarious sound effects. Seriously, the gore is pretty laughably pathetic, and the sound effects made me laugh my ass off. See, in the original Day of the Dead, the guy in charge of the practical effects was none other than Tom f-cking Savini. You know, the master of practical gore effects in ’80s horror movies. And his work in the original Day of the Dead was absolutely amazing and insanely brutal. But in Bloodline, zombies biting chunks out of flesh causes blood to spray outward like it’s coming out of a freaking hose. There’s a sequence in which a chick just casually riding her bike through the zombie apocalypse gets jumped by a zombie bursting out of a window. I died laughing. A couple get into their car to drive away, but the car won’t start and a zombie breaks the window and kills them. Apparently windows are as strong as tissue paper in this world.

Randomly cut to four hours earlier as Zoe the Mary Sue Med Student is in class with a few students looking over a corpse to discover that he died of the H1N1 flu. Is this movie subtly hinting that H1N1 causes zombieism? How many years late to that party is this movie? Also, I wonder if this corpse is eventually going to zombify.

Of course the main character has to be an attractive college student because this movie really has to appeal to that demographic. Also, she’s a perfectionist med student that cares more about good grades than a social life. How has no modeling agency come across her and hired her? By the way, her perfectionism and caring about good grades is only pertinent in this freaking scene.

Also, Zoe is yet another British girl trying to fake an American accent. As is usual, she fails miserably, as her British accent is constantly poking through in every sentence. Why wasn’t some other chick cast? Oh yeah – because the chick playing Zoe was in Outlander. Oh, and her acting is pretty awful as well, especially when she has to narrate.

So Zoe is asked to take a weekly blood sample from some guy who has an unusually high number of antibodies in his bloodstream. I wonder if that will be useful later. And the guy she’s taking the sample from is a creeper that wants to get in her pants. He’s so obsessed with Zoe that he’s literally carved her name in his arm. WHO DOES THAT? I’m pretty amazed she hasn’t filed a restraining ord – okay, file a restraining order; he just touched you inappropriately.

So that night Zoe goes to a party in the same classroom that Zoe was examining a corpse in earlier that is literally just upstairs from a freaking morgue. I wonder what’s going to happen. So Zoe and some Random Guy go downstairs to get another keg of beer. The guy takes the beer back upstairs, leaving Zoe behind to be prey of Rapey Man. Rapey Man tries to rape Zoe, but the corpse from earlier attacks him and bites him. Told you so. Zoe runs upstairs, but the zombies follow and attack the partiers. Zoe escapes out a window…

…and we cut to present day, where Zoe is living on a military base with some walking hunks of meat. There’s plenty of people there, there’s a pathetic imitation of Colonel Rhodes, and Zoe even has a boyfriend named Baca. Who the hell names their son Baca?

See, in the original Day of the Dead, the number of survivors on the military base were very few. The fact that they were so few, their supplies were so scanty, and that whenever zombies were around it really felt like any of them could die at any moment really illustrated the hopelessness of the situation. It didn’t help that the characters were basically trapped in the base by the hordes of rarely-seen but ever-present zombies, and that very few of the characters had any moral standards whatsoever. It had easily the darkest tone and most oppressive atmosphere of any of Romero’s Dead trilogy.

Also, zombies in Bloodline are called “rotters”. The zombies in Romero’s Dead trilogy were rarely if ever referred to as “zombies”, instead being called “ghouls”, “creatures”, “monsters”, “things”, or just “them”. Why can’t Bloodline just call them “zombies” or “undead” or “infected” or “walkers” or “Zeke” or “zeds”? When a terrible zombie movie tries to give new names to the zombie-like creatures, it just sounds like they’re allergic to the term “zombie”.

I should probably mention that Zoe is the base’s official doctor. Bullcrap. In the original, none of the actors were obvious Hollywoodites. They looked like regular people, and fit into their roles really well. But in Bloodline, I just can’t believe that this chick is a freaking doctor because she looks too goddamn pretty and she’s obviously covered in makeup. Is she seriously dolling herself up every day during the zombie apocalypse among all these other survivors that look like they’re doing remarkably well? You are not doing a very good job at communicating the hopelessness of the situation here.

Zoe even tries to have sex with Baca, but because of the incident with Rapey Man, she just can’t do it. So her just getting through the movie alive will automatically make her grow as a character. That’s freaking cheating.

Also, Zoe’s kind of busy caring for a sick girl, but since she doesn’t have the proper antibiotics to treat her bacterial influenza, she proposes to lead a group of soldiers out to a medical facility in the nearest town to get supplies. She even says goodbye to the girl by giving her her cross necklace. Aww, look, she’s so caring. The writers totes knew how to make a legitimately likable character and totally didn’t just make her do some nice things to fake the entire process.

And Not Colonel Rhodes is such an asshole for saying no (even though the group just goes anyway). Also, I did a little research on bacterial influenza, and it turns out that it’s very contagious. So Zoe touching the little girl, getting close to her face, and not just putting her in quarantine is freaking hilarious to me.

So the group leaves the military base in two humvees. I can’t help but notice that military combat gear has not changed at all. One of the most important things you could add to military combat gear would be body armor on arms and legs and extremities, as those are the areas most often bitten by zombies. Sorry, ROTTERS. It sounds so stupid when you say it out loud. So as the group was driving, I couldn’t help but ask myself the question, What’s the stupidest thing that could happen right now? And it happened: car trouble. Specifically, car trouble that takes until long after the sun has gone down to fix. Of course, the rotters eventually show up, but they try to do the whole “Can’t we just HEAR the zombies rather than SHOW the zombies to save on makeup?” thing, and when the handful of rotters actually do show up, the group is already driving away after having fixed the humvee.

Apparently the clinic they stop at was the same med school that Zoe went to. The group gets through the building with surprisingly little resistance, bust into the supply room, and take what they can. But on the way back out, Zoe somehow slips away into a different room to grab some family pictures. Why are they there? And of course a zombie shows up. Maybe grabbing some personal effects out of that room was a BAD IDEA. Zoe of course shoots enough times to let every zombie within a hundred miles know that the group is there. And in the process of the group’s escape, one expendable Rando gets killed by zombies. Oh, and some random zombie picks up an article of clothing that Zoe dropped and starts sniffing it.

So the group gets back to the military base without a hitch, and they are of course berated by Not Colonel Rhodes. And Not Colonel Rhodes is clearly in the right here. After all, it was Zoe’s decision to risk the lives of a dozen soldiers to get some antibiotics for a little girl rather than cut the dead weight and move on. Zoe, in the age of the zombie apocalypse, your morals cannot get in the way of pragmatic and logical decision-making. The group looks totally broken up over Rando’s death. Oh, and the zombie that sniffed Zoe’s article of clothing? He hung on to the humvee’s undercarriage and somehow runs into the on-base woods without anyone noticing. WHAT? How did he get into the military base unnoticed in that manner? Get ready, because the reason why will shock you.

The zombie gets inside the base and climbs up into the ventilation, distracting and killing two people along the way, one of whom is the little girl’s mom. Be patient, I’ll explain. Eventually, the zombie comes across Zoe after she’s given the antibiotics to the girl. I’ve just now realized how inconsequential the little girl is to the plot. It turns out that the zombie is in fact the zombified Rapey Man, who is somehow not entirely zombified because his desire to eat Zoe’s pussy is just that strong. Are they ripping off Warm Bodies now? What does Zombie Rapey Man intend to do once he gets Zoe? Can he still get it up as an almost-zombie? Zombie Rapey Man accosts Zoe and tries feeling her up, but some extras show up, get him off Zoe, and, under Zoe’s orders, chain him up inside some sort of experiment room. I have no idea why there are chains there, nor why they are so long. But the one shot of the black extra sticking the key onto something on his belt tipped me off as to how Zombie Rapey Man will escape later. Not Colonel Rhodes bursts in and demands to know what’s going on, but is convinced by the extras to listen to Zoe’s plan: considering that Zombie Rapey Man has not entirely zombified, maybe a vaccine can be created from his blood. Uh…NO. Rando’s wife even comes in and says “If we’d had a vaccine earlier, we could have saved Rando,” and Not Colonel Rhodes is all, “Durrr…okay.” Zombie Rapey Man essentially becomes Bloodline‘s pathetically awful version of Bub. Wow.

So after much experimentation, Zoe determines that Zombie Rapey Man’s hormone levels are off the charts. Of course they’re off the charts; he still wants to rape you that badly. Specifically, the number of antibodies in his blood is ludicrous. I did some research, and it turns out that having too many antibodies in your blood is called Waldenstrom’s disease, a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that can cause blood hyperviscosity, making it difficult for your organs to work properly. But Zoe wants to test the blood against samples from still-“alive” rotters, and formulates the worst possible plan ever:

So she gets some soldiers to go up to the fence, open the gate to let a single rotter in, immobilize it, and allow her to get a blood sample. Why must they let a rotter in to take the samples? Why can’t you take a sample through the freaking fence? Is she really expecting the zombies to form a single-file line? And why is only one soldier holding the door closed against a few dozen zombies? Anyway, the samples are obtained, but the zombies burst in and kill some of the soldiers, and Zoe and the rest escape indoors just in time. Gee, it almost sounds like letting zombies in to obtain blood samples was a BAD IDEA. But one of the extras that is apparently Zoe’s friend gets bitten, and despite Zoe’s protests, Not Colonel Rhodes shoots her in the face. Not Colonel Rhodes is supposed to be a bad guy here, but he’s clearly the only guy in here with any sense.

But then Not Colonel Rhodes talks to Baca in private, and pretty much outright states that he thinks Zoe wants to cure zombieism so she can bang Zombie Rapey Man. You’re telling me that Zoe has never once told Baca about Rapey Man? Wow. Baca even calls Zoe out on it, who tells him that every moment being with Zombie Rapey Man is traumatizing to her. Then why doesn’t she just kill Zombie Rapey Man and find another horny zombie? I can’t believe I had to use “horny” and “zombie” in the same sentence.

And now, because this isn’t cliche at all, to transition the second act into the third, the two main characters have to hate each other for absolutely no reason. After the extras including Baca share some drinks despite there literally being only one large metal door in between them and the goddamn zombies, they go into the medical experiment room where one extra gets up close to Zombie Rapey Man and almost gets bitten, but the black extra pulls her back, and gets up in Zombie Rapey Man’s face. Zombie Rapey Man takes the key without the black extra noticing. I freaking told you.

After more experimentation, Zoe determines that since Zombie Rapey Man’s blood has so many antibodies, it was effectively able to fight off the disease, even though he still almost completely zombified. Zombie Rapey Man escapes without making a freaking sound and attacks Zoe, only to be fought off. Zoe runs off and hits the alarm.

The little girl, who is only NOW consequential to the plot (do you get how lazy that is?), starts running around in the halls, only to now come across her zombified mom, who apparently was just wandering around for the last hour. But Zombie Rapey Man kills Zombie Mom and abducts the little girl. Eventually Zoe comes across the two, and Zombie Rapey Man lets the girl go after some meaningless dialogue. I don’t remember how the back door gets opened, but it does, and zombies start coming in and killing a bunch of people. But some soldiers including Not Colonel Rhodes and Baca come in and start shooting. The little girl, FOR SOME UNGODLY REASON, RUNS OUTSIDE WHERE THE ZOMBIES ARE, AND ZOE AND ZOMBIE RAPEY MAN FOLLOW. After much shooting in which the soldiers magically get headshots with almost every shot, Not Colonel Rhodes getting blindsided and killed, smiling as he screams, and Baca getting bitten, I guess the zombie problem freaking FIXES ITSELF, because I did not see the infestation stopped.

Rather, we see Zoe finding the little girl, and after much funny business, killing Zombie Rapey Man, even though by this movie’s earlier logic, she needs him “alive” to make the zombie vaccine. But Baca, knowing that he is infected, prepares to commit suicide. But as he holds the gun to his head, you can clearly see the “CAL 6mm BB” on the gun. But Zoe comes along and convinces him to put the gun down. He does so, and Zoe literally saves him by injecting him with Zombie Rapey Man’s blood, and according to the dialogue, the amount of blood required to do the job was the small amount spattered on Baca’s face. Wait. Rapey Man was bitten but because of his antibody-filled blood was able to stop himself turning completely, but he still almost completely zombified, but when Zoe injects Zombie Rapey Man’s blood into the bitten Baca, Baca is totally cured to the point where he barely even needs a bandage on his arm and opposite shoulder. WHAT?!

After an “inspirational” voiceover by Zoe talking about the end of the apocalypse, and footage showing life going back to normal on the military base and Zoe and Baca essentially adopting the little girl, the movie ends.

Well that took a lot longer than I wanted it to. So yeah, this movie’s really crappy, but it’s also pretty funny. It would be a perfect movie to watch with drunk friends.

But it’s still pretty crappy, even though I would hate it a lot less if it wasn’t called freaking Day of the Dead. So I’m calling it Day of the Dud: Brainfart.

Literally every death in this movie stemmed from Zoe’s ridiculous decision to go out of her way and sacrifice so many freaking people just to save a single little girl. To be honest, I can easily understand why she made such a decision, but her stupid, asinine decision literally led to the deaths of so many people. I get that she wants to save her friend, but in times like the zombie apocalypse, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few!

Talk about eight million bucks thrown to the winds.

After seeing this for the first time, I was considering making this a full review, but I’ve been putting off my Hellraiser: Judgment review for long enough.

I’m long past done talking about this turd.

And I’m giving Day of the Dud: Brainfart a .5 out of 5.

Review 96: Cries of the Unborn (Thumbs Down)

Image result for cries of the unborn movie

Cries of the Unborn

Directed by Waleed Bedour

Starring Robert Loggia, Blanche Baker, Allison Thomas Lee, Suzi Lorraine, Mary Apick

Released on Unknown Month, Unknown Day, 2017

Running time: 1h 26m

Not Rated (Suggested rating: PG for mild language)

Genre: …

Cries of the Unborn is quite literally a sequel to Ken del Vecchio’s The Life Zone. I’m not surprised you’ve never heard of it, as basically no one has seen it, even when it first premiered at last year’s Hoboken Film Festival.

And believe it or not, it is actually so much worse than The Life Zone. It is one of the worst movies I have ever seen. Yeah, it’s not actively anti-moral and anti-humanity and anti-everything-good-in-this-world like Chaos, it’s not migraine-inducingly infuriating and nonsensical like Eli Roth’s Knock Knock, it’s not just ninety minutes of nothing like Backgammon, but it takes everything The Life Zone did and does it ten times worse, and presents a political and legal viewpoint that is so terrifying in its potential legal ramifications that it legitimately scares me to think about, and engages in perhaps the most preachy and blatant demonization of its political and legal opponents I have ever seen.

As I stated in my The Life Zone review, I am pro-life, very much a religious man, and think that abortion is one of, if not the greatest evil being committed every day on the planet now. But I also believe in the rule of law. As unhappy as I am to say this, abortion is legal. That’s what Roe v Wade dictates. And any attempts to overturn that decision and make abortion illegal must be done through the legislative and judicial systems.

I did not know that Cries of the Unborn existed until I was basically done with my The Life Zone review. I simply saw it as a suggested movie on IMDb. I clicked on it and learned that it was a sequel to The Life Zone. I immediately knew I had to watch and review it. But while reading the description of its premise, I quickly discovered that it was basically the same as the premise of 12 Angry Men. I hadn’t seen that movie yet, so after I finished my The Life Zone review and took a week to push it out of mind and focus on my job, I watched 12 Angry Men. It was absolutely amazing, and it quickly earned itself a spot on my top ten favorite movies. So I went into Cries of the Unborn as a massive fan of what it was effectively plagiarizing.

Cries of the Unborn not only steals the premise of 12 Angry Men, but steals plot points, character identities, and even pieces of dialogue, and has absolutely no idea what made 12 Angry Men such a fantastic movie in the first place.

See, 12 Angry Men was not about proving that the young defendant was not guilty of the murder of his father. It was about finding reasonable doubt that he committed the crime he was accused of based on the evidence submitted, and therefore having to issue a “not guilty” verdict. And it featured twelve jurors that felt like real, legitimate people. They each had unique personalities, unique strengths and weaknesses, dialogue that was unique to each juror, unique approaches to the case, unique ways that each juror determined his verdict, and unique ways that each juror aside from Juror #8 changed their vote. It was an engaging, thoughtful, tense examination of the brilliance of the American criminal justice system. And it featured twelve fantastic performances from twelve fantastic actors. Aside from To Kill a Mockingbird, 12 Angry Men is hands down the best courtroom drama of all time, and if To Kill a Mockingbird’s centerpiece wasn’t Tom Robinson’s trial and Atticus Finch’s stalwart, unflinching, incredible defense, 12 Angry Men would be the greatest courtroom drama of all time. Regardless, it is a tried and true classic, and will always be remembered as one of the greatest movies of all time.

And Cries of the Unborn craps all over it.

I should probably mention that the woman on the cover is not in the movie.

So the movie starts out with the last two scenes of The Life Zone, completely unaltered save for the editing out of the screams during the births and the scenes looking strangely color-corrected. Oh, and the soundtrack ripping off Clint Mansell’s “Lux Aeterna” from Requiem for a Dream is back as well. The revelation to Staci that she’s actually in hell occurs, and the footage stops on the Old Man’s now-devilish eyes. The title sequence happens in between the birthing scene and the twist ending, and it’s clearly in Copperplate Gothic Bold font. WOW.

After that last five minutes of footage taken directly from The Life Zone, the same soundtrack included, we randomly cut to some room in a courthouse where The Life Zone is being shown directly to a twelve-person jury. Yes, I just said that.

It turns out that the Old Man (whose name is actually Mr. Lation), Dr. Wise, Lara, and Natalie were all co-conspirators in the kidnapping of Staci, and they are currently on trial for their crimes. Lara and Natalie were simply posing as fellow captives, and after Staci gave birth to her twins, she was let go, despite Dr. Wise saying that Staci was somehow pregnant again and Mr. Lation saying that she and Dr. Wise were in Hell. Were Mr. Lation and Dr. Wise just screwing with Staci? And how did Natalie, Lara, their babies, and all the other stuff in the hospital room pull off that disappearing act? Were the disappearing act as well as the dream sequences the result of Staci being hopped up on hallucinogens? It’s the only way that makes sense. How healthy was it for Staci’s babies when there’s freaking hallucinogens going through their systems? I thought Mr. Lation and Dr. Wise wanted Staci to give birth to healthy babies? (EDIT: I did some research, and it turns out that pregnant women that take hallucinogens can possibly cause their baby to have low birth weight, poor muscle control, brain damage, and withdrawal symptoms if used frequently. Staci had to have been on it constantly throughout the seven months she was held captive. Her babies should have been very, very dead within weeks at the most. This movie becomes much, much more ridiculous if you leave your brain turned on.) And how did Mr. Lation, Dr. Wise, Lara, and Natalie pull off the whole shebang without even a hitch? And the almost unaltered footage of The Life Zone is being used as evidence submitted in a court of law, and it was actually submitted by the defendants, who believed that it would actually help their case. The answers to these questions and any other questions you may have had regarding The Life Zone will never be answered, as Ken del Vecchio has absolutely no respect for his audience and believes that the audience is just too stupid to care.

To begin, the foreman (who is black now because inclusivity) calls for a preliminary vote on whether the defendants are guilty or not. Every juror votes guilty save for Juror #8 (I know it’s #7 in this movie, but I’ll refer to the main characters by their 12 Angry Men names) (oh, and she’s a woman here, and if you dare say a word against her, you’re a sexist misogynist patriarchal bigot), who votes not guilty. Of course, Jurors #3 and #7 mock this. Juror #7 of course has a prior commitment, but it’s a business meeting this time. But Juror #8 starts passive-aggressively accusing everyone of not thinking this through, and making their decisions based on emotions. Yes, it does get worse.

Juror #8 insists that she’s asking a logical question and that the other jurors are voting guilty based on emotion. Much like in 12 Angry Men, they start going around the table trying to tell Juror #8 that she’s wrong.

And much like The Life Zone, the political back-and-forth consists of characters spouting talking points as if off a list of bullet points. Though the critical players do just have the same characteristics as their counterparts in 12 Angry Men, they are not only completely without depth or development, but the rest of the cast is, of course, just blank-slate talking heads that stand in for what are claimed to be different sides of the abortion debate. None of the characters who espouse an antagonistic attitude present any talking points that are not easily refuted, and I am beyond sure that these talking points do not represent the pro-abortion side of the argument. I’ve never been on that side of the argument, so I wouldn’t know. They spout such basic talking points as “There’s a huge difference between killing kids and killing fetuses that are not yet born.” “Staci had a legal right to an abortion.” “Roe v Wade has not been reversed.” “When Staci was kidnapped, her kids weren’t born yet.” You’re saying that it’s okay to commit crimes to protect people that don’t exist?” “They were fetuses, big clumps of cells. They were just tissue. They weren’t developed. They weren’t even human.” “Kidnapping is not permitted by law.” “They violated Staci’s basic rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” And every time they sound like they have the legal system on their side, one of the antagonists always has to say or suggest something that totally shoots their case in the foot. And every time this happens, not one other antagonist steps up to stop them.

And Ken del Vecchio’s script clearly tries to say that the protagonists, which now consists of Juror #9 as well (who is now a young guy similarly aged to Juror #8), are completely correct in what they say, which boils down to “the kidnappers were justified, because Staci’s kids would not be here today had the defendants not done so”. “If someone wanted to kill your kids, wouldn’t you do anything to save their lives?” “After all, the children were very much alive inside Staci’s womb. And yes, they were developed.” “Also, the law needs to be the focus here, not your emotions, you precious little snowflakes.” “Unborn babies are human lives from the moment of conception.” Regardless of how truthful their talking points are, the manner in which they are said is ridiculous, manipulative, condescending, and disingenuous. But these talking points actually start to convince the jurors one by one. And every time an antagonist starts to get an upstart attitude or drop an insult, one or more of the protagonists always stands up and shuts the antagonist down.

And throughout the entire movie, Juror #8 has this look on her face of “I’m the one who’s correct here. I look down on you and your opinions, and I’m going to manipulate you into accepting that my opinions are right.” Whenever she parrots such a basic talking point, she always acts as if she’s saying the most obvious things ever in the most condescending way. Speaking of which, the acting in here is painful. Every actor, depending on which side of the debate they are either on or have switched to, acts either angelically good or exaggeratedly evil and heartless. And whenever they raise their voices seemingly at random, it’s either unintentionally funny or incredibly cringey.

And during the first seventy-five percent of the movie, Jurors #8 and #9 and whatever jurors they manage to turn to their side don’t even attempt to address the fact that despite Staci’s babies being saved, the defendants still kidnapped Staci, held her against her will for seven months, mentally and psychologically tortured her, attempted to forcibly change her mind on the subject of abortion, and forced her to go through with the pain of childbirth. The protagonists don’t even attempt (well, not yet) to refute the fact that there was a crime committed, and that two wrongs do not make a right. Rather, they will simply change the subject back to abortion.

Occasionally, throughout the movie, one of the jurors will go up to the box of evidence below the TV and show the other jurors clips from The Life Zone. And then, once the clips are over, the jurors just restate what they heard and saw. So really, it was pointless. Oh, and the jurors even occasionally comment on just how “authentic” the acting was. I’ve talked about the miserably bad acting in The Life Zone at length elsewhere, so you can go to that review to get the full scoop on why the characters in Cries of the Unborn praising the performances in The Life Zone pisses me off. Oh, and the one video of the random two guys having a mock argument about abortion? The other guy in his early forties is actually Ken del Vecchio himself. And hell, the footage shown in this movie even includes the dream sequences. I have absolutely no idea how those were recorded. I went back and did the math for how much footage of The Life Zone is in this movie, and I determined that over the entire length of Cries of the Unborn, literally eighteen minutes is just footage from The Life Zone. At a certain point, I just set my head down on my desk and groaned.

Also, occasionally, and always seemingly at random, one or more jurors will interrupt and complain about the room being cold. Yes, this movie even has 12 Angry Men‘s dialogue of complaining about the temperature, but in Cries of the Unborn, it’s because the room is cold rather than hot. In case you couldn’t tell, this is Ken del Vecchio’s pitiful attempt at comedy. It goes nowhere.

And at very rare points, Juror #8 foreshadows the end of the movie. But we’ll get to that later. And boy oh boy, you’re in for it then.

And the movie intentionally streamlines its 12-Angry-Men-ripoff plot so it can insert more painful back-and-forthing and circular arguments about abortion. When what could loosely be called a plot actually starts to move forward, it feels completely random and out of nowhere. There are many times when the movie just forgets a particular plot point, only to remember it at a random time later. And sometimes, a character will perform a plot point offscreen without the audience or any other characters knowing and then reference it afterward. It tries so desperately to replicate the dramatic moments from 12 Angry Men, but it fails so spectacularly, not only making it even more obvious that this movie is basically plagiarism, but serving to further undermine this movie’s argument. And the movie clearly has absolutely no understanding of what made 12 Angry Men’s dramatic moments, let alone 12 Angry Men as a whole, interesting, unique, or good in the first place.

The protagonists and antagonists try to discuss the science of fetal growth, but the protagonists just say stuff that everyone who’s ever taken a biology class ever in their lives already knows, and the antagonists retort with obvious falsehoods that no one can take seriously, restating earlier talking points, or name-calling. There is so much talk about abortion that the extremely rare times when the antagonists finally behave reasonably and actually try to bring the conversation back to the fact that this is dealing with a kidnapping case, it barely lasts for a few seconds before the protagonists steer the conversation back toward abortion, and it feels completely random every time. There is so little time spent discussing whether or not the defendants are guilty of kidnapping that it is legitimately agonizing trying to listen to these circular exchanges of painfully banal and clinical dialogue.

And when they actually talk about the kidnapping, the antagonists make the obvious case: each of the defendants confessed to their crimes. There is seventy-five minutes of video evidence proving that Staci was kidnapped, held hostage for the better part of a year, and subjected to mental and psychological torture as well as the pain of childbirth. Holding Staci hostage and lying about not only the device implanted in her neck, but that she was in hell constitutes harm. The facts are that regardless of the defendants’ intent as well as Staci’s relatively comfortable accommodations, they still committed a crime, and they deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

And the protagonists’ retorts can be boiled down to “But if the kidnappers hadn’t done what they did, her babies would now be dead.” Juror #8 then engages in emotional manipulation, showing the jurors an interview with Staci’s two children, who are seven years old (did it really take that long for this case to go to trial?) (by the way, the child acting is painful). And of course, the antagonists undermine their own argument. Juror #3 pulls out his wallet to look at a picture of his son at the worst possible time, and when trying to explain that he would have let his wife abort their baby if she wanted to, he says one wrong word and Juror #8 pounces and starts guilt-tripping him. And then one of the other jurors changes her vote, saying that “the kids’ lives are more important than the law.”

When a character switches sides, the character all of a sudden changes their behavior and opinions in such a drastic way that they no longer feel like the same person. They just abruptly change their entire worldview based on the asinine screeds of two (and then more) underinformed activists. It feels so random, and the reasons that they change their worldviews are not even related to whether or not the defendants are guilty of kidnapping. Their reasoning is not even based in legality.

And about thirty minutes into the movie, the jurors call the judge’s secretary to tell her to ask the judge some legal questions. The judge goes down there himself to answer, and shows up again and again at random times throughout the movie to answer a question. He obviously only gives a pro-life response. And sometimes the judge is a source of comedy. Oh, and the judge’s name? Solomon. That’s a Bible reference. His legal answers include “Killing a pregnant woman is considered a double homicide.” This is true. “If a woman were pregnant, another woman attempted to kill the first woman’s unborn child, and a white knight stops the second woman, he’s innocent because he was protecting the unborn child.” This is not true, as what exempts the man from being charged with manslaughter is not him protecting the unborn child, but rather the woman who was being assaulted.

The protagonists then engage in more emotional manipulation of the antagonists. For example, when the judge brings in various pictures and diagrams of what fetuses look like at different stages of birth, Juror #8 starts saying passive-aggressively implying that the antagonists are monsters for even thinking that aborting a baby could even be legally feasible.

Eventually, a juror asks that Jurors #4 and #8 go up to the two whiteboards conveniently placed on opposing sides of the room to list the points in favor of prosecution and those in favor of acquittal.

The prosecution points are 1) Staci was kidnapped. 2) She was held for seven months. 3) She was subjected to mental and psychological torture. 4) She was lied to about having a chip put in her neck and that she was in Hell after she gave birth. 5) She was forced to undergo medical treatments against her will (so the defendants’ charges don’t include medical malpractice?) 6) She was forced to have her children against her will, suffering the extreme physical pain of giving birth to twins. 7) Staci had the legal right to an abortion, and the defendants had no right to stop her.

The acquittal points are 1) Staci was pregnant with twins. 2) Her twins were identifiable as human beings. 3) Had the kidnapping not happened, the twins would now be dead. 4) No doctor / scientist / educator can identify the point when a fetus magically transforms into human life. 5) The legal answers given by the judge earlier. None of these points excuses the defendants’ crimes. And while Juror #8 is making her list, there’s this really disgusting inspirational music playing in the background.

Juror #3 of course retorts by saying that abortion is legal, as defined by Roe v Wade. Staci wanted to have an abortion and had the legal right to do so. But Juror #8 responds by saying that human lives being at stake outweighs everything, including rights. Juror #10 weighs in, asking “What about cases of rape or incest?” (Fun fact: in real life, that’s one of the least common reasons for aborting a child.) Juror #8 of course says that the child shouldn’t be punished for the sins of the unwitting parents.

Of course, Juror #3 accuses Juror #8 of being a religious nut, and asks her to point out in the Bible where it says anything about abortion. Juror #8’s obvious answer is “Thou shalt not kill,” and she asks for a Bible to be brought in. I will address the obvious problem soon. The judge brings a Bible in, and Juror #8 starts reading from it. Juror #10 immediately calls out Juror #8 for her obvious sermonizing. Juror #4 calls faith the manipulation of common sense.

Okay, I’ve got to pause for a moment here: First, the entire point of a court of law is to be completely amoral and to not ascribe to any ideology. All that matters in the courtroom is the law, and whether the person being tried provably broke the law. That’s the entire point of this jury. The only guidelines that those who work in the legal system use are the laws on the books in the USA. Second, the Bible is not the law of the land in the US. If it were, any person deviating from what the Bible teaches would be punished according to what is written in the Bible. The only usage of the Bible in the courtroom is you putting your right hand on it and swearing to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God.

But this leads into Juror #8s rationale: because America was founded on Judeo-Christian ideology, the laws of God are therefore welcome in the courtroom, and therefore abortion must be illegal.

The problem with that statement is this: the Founding Fathers, though they did found America on their Judeo-Christian beliefs, did not intend for America’s legal system to be organized that way. The Constitution and various laws and regulations on the books, though meant to be practiced by a religious populace, were meant to be executed by a secular, amoral government and legal system. That’s why courts of law are amoral, nonreligious, and do not ascribe to any ideology: that’s the way they were intended to be.

After much more deliberation, including Juror #10 restating earlier arguments, the viewing of the interview with Staci’s husband, a female juror as well as Juror #10 changing their votes for reasons totally unrelated to the case that could be settled in an entirely different one, Juror #7 changing his vote for the same reasons as his 12 Angry Men counterpart and inexplicably adopting the Juror #7 personality, and Juror #4 calling the other jurors out on not making their decisions based on whether or not the defendants are guilty of kidnapping and then blatantly contradicting her own character by arguing from an emotional rather than legal standpoint, we finally get to this movie’s moral lesson.

Get this. You’re in for one hell of a doozy. Because God’s laws are directly part of the fundamental fabric of the law of the land, a fetus is defined as a human life. And because a fetus is defined as a human life, abortion cannot be legal. And because ending a human life is not legal, the defendants kidnapping Staci to prevent her aborting her babies was justifiable because they saved the lives of the babies. And therefore, the kidnapping of Staci was not a crime. For those who didn’t get it, I’ll make it simpler. The moral of Cries of the Unborn is this: It is legal to commit a crime so long as you are preventing a woman from aborting her baby.

And therefore, based on this movie’s logic, any criminal activity, from physically preventing a woman from entering an abortion clinic to bombing an abortion clinic and murdering abortionists, is legal, because those who would commit such acts are doing it in the name of saving the lives of unborn children. Do you see how such a rationale could be used to justify horrible crimes? I agree with most of the talking points made by the protagonists, but the conclusion that they use their talking points to come to is legally and morally wrong in every way.

And before you say anything about me masquerading as a pro-lifer to push a pro-abortion screed, hear me out. I am pro-life. I have always been pro-life, and will always be pro-life. Nothing can change that. But I also believe in the rule of law. Abortion is legal. I’m not happy to say that, but that’s how things are. The only ways we can make abortion illegal are through the legal system, and not backed by religious beliefs. And Ken del Vecchio is trying so desperately to use Cries of the Unborn to exploit a legal loophole that was never there and was never intended to be there. Trying to use this movie’s rationale to make abortion illegal is not going to get you very far in court, Ken, as the actual legal experts would toss out your case without a second thought.

Okay, before I get into my final thoughts, I have to talk about the ending. And if you thought that this movie’s moral lesson was bad, just watch: it’s about to get worse.

So Juror #4 panics, realizing that Juror #8 is “right”. Juror #3 freaks out, repeatedly shouting that he will not change his vote. He stumbles over to the evidence box, holding up pieces of evidence. The camera, whenever it’s on Juror #3, suddenly has a red filter. All of the jurors except Jurors #8, #4, and #3 lean back in their chairs and close their eyes, vanishing in digitally added puffs of smoke through basic editing techniques. The room starts filling up with digitally added smoke. I think you can see where this is going. The judge enters the room, the rest of the building outside the room having been replaced with nothing but a white glow. The judge and Juror #8 stand next to each other. Juror #3 realizes that he aborted his son before he was born, and Juror #4 realizes that she was the doctor who performed the abortion. The judge tells Juror #4 that she died yesterday of a heart attack, and tells Juror #3 that he died yesterday in a car crash. The judge reveals that he is God, that today is Judgment Day, that Juror #8 is apparently one of his angels, that Juror #4 recognized her wrongs and repented and that her soul will be saved, and that Juror #3 refused to repent and is now damned to an eternity in Hell. Ken del Vecchio literally just recycled the twist ending from The Life Zone, making The Life Zone and Cries of the Unborn look even more like a painfully long and preachy Chick tract.

The movie ends, and when you subtract the five minutes of credits and the eighteen minutes of footage from The Life Zone, the movie comes out to a grand total of sixty-three minutes. And the credits give all of the actors from The Life Zone top billing. Which is pretty ridiculous, as Robert Loggia died two whole years before Cries of the Unborn came out, yet he gets top billing.

Like The Life Zone, Cries of the Unborn is not a movie, and it feels even more preachy now that it’s trying to argue making abortion illegal from a legal standpoint.

Its understanding of the law is painfully misguided, and that’s saying a lot, considering that Ken del Vecchio used to be a judge. The fact that I know more about the legal system than this guy that presumably went to law school and got an actual degree is freaking scary. The courtroom, according to the law, is supposed to be an amoral, areligious place. All that is to matter in the courtroom is the LAW. And the law states that regardless of intent, if the defendant committed a crime s/he is found guilty of, s/he deserves to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. I don’t care if you’re Mother Freaking Teresa, if you committed a crime worthy of imprisonment, you deserve to go to prison. Even if you commit a crime to prevent a greater crime, you still committed a crime, and rather than going around and professing that no crime was committed, you should accept your punishment with dignity and walk through those prison doors with your head held high. Obviously, if you are wrongly convicted of a crime, you should be exonerated. But if it is provable that you committed a crime, you deserve the punishment. In the case of Cries of the Unborn, the crime is kidnapping. The reasoning behind committing said crimes is irrelevant. Yes, it was to stop Staci from aborting her babies, but kidnapping is still a crime, and two wrongs do not make a right. Yes, it had a happy side effect, but it was just that: a side effect. Regardless of the defendants’ intent, there was still provably a crime committed, and there is no room for reasonable doubt with this sheer amount of extremely detailed, extremely incriminating evidence. And Staci had the legal right to abort her baby, because Roe v Wade has not been reversed. I’m certainly not happy about that, and I wish she had reconsidered her decision, but in legal terms, Staci was clearly making a legal decision. I fully believe that abortion is evil and barbaric, but from a legal standpoint, it’s not a crime. I want abortion declared illegal as much as you do, Ken, but right now, not only is abortion legal, but kidnapping is illegal.

But that means nothing to the main characters, as they’re just happy to change the subject and not even address the kidnapping or why it’s not a crime according to them until the last twenty minutes. They’re perfectly happy to talk about the legality and morality of abortion. Yes, there is clearly an argument to be made that a fetus is human life from the moment of conception and therefore abortion is murder. I fully support that. But this case is not about whether or not abortion should be legal or not – it’s about a handful of insane, super-radical psychos kidnapping a woman, holding her hostage for nearly a year and mentally and psychologically torturing her. And it’s entirely up to the antagonists to even attempt to steer the conversation back to where it should be. You can debate about the science and biology of infant development in utero and the morality of abortion some other time, after the jury has delivered its verdict and left the courtroom. And Juror #8 has the GALL to claim that the other jurors are making their accusations from an emotional rather than legal standpoint.

The fact that Cries of the Unborn is plagiarizing 12 Angry Men is painfully obvious right from the instant we first see the jurors doing their preliminary vote. If Reginald Rose, the man who originally wrote the 12 Angry Men play, were still alive, he could sue and win an assload of money with ease. But Ken del Vecchio just doesn’t understand the intentions and grand purpose of 12 Angry Men, let alone what made the movie so incredible to begin with. It uses 12 Angry Men’s plot, characters, and even much of its dialogue and dramatic moments to deliver an extremely misguided message.

And even regarding the elements that Cries of the Unborn doesn’t outright steal from 12 Angry Men, this movie is awful. The characters are so poorly written, and none of them are even remotely likable or relatable. It doesn’t help that the actors playing them are painfully bad and the dialogue they ejaculate is physically agonizing to listen to. Anyone with two brain cells to rub together will be turned off by the premise, and should they choose to watch it like me, they will immediately find the protagonists’ viewpoint to be irrelevant to the case at hand and side with the antagonists. And their opinion that the antagonists are actually in the right will only grow stronger and more founded in legality as the movie progresses. But they won’t like the antagonists either, as they realize that both the protagonists and antagonists are just blank-slate talking heads spewing forth the type of political commentary that you’d find in an Internet flame war. Neither side has the intellectual high ground, and neither side presents a compelling argument. And the script is so desperate for you to side with the protagonists that throughout the movie, the antagonists not only do not put forth arguments that are not easily refuted, but they will repeat their talking points every so often, and even when it feels like they will finally gain the legal high ground, they shoot themselves in the foot. The characters are so flat and lifeless that they’re barely worthy of being called stereotypes. The protagonists all are written to be veritable angels, and the antagonists are written to be disgusting crapholes that refuse to see the other side of the argument. Until, of course, all but Juror #3 change sides pretty much out of nowhere. They have such an unwarranted paradigm shift that is so abrupt and so radical that they don’t even feel like the same people. And they don’t even change sides for legal reasons. See, in 12 Angry Men, each character aside from Juror #8 went through a long process toward admitting reasonable doubt and changing his verdict. And it was a completely unique process for each character. For example, in 12 Angry Men, Juror #4 was clearly the one with the most legal inclination out of the entire jury. He’d just missed one small detail in how the woman who lived across the El train tracks from the apartment where the defendant supposedly murdered his father acted. When it was pointed out to him that the woman was a glasses-wearer and was rubbing her nose in the same way Juror #4 did when he took off his glasses, and that the woman could not have slapped her glasses on her face in time to truly see who had stabbed the defendant’s father to death, Juror #4 admitted that there was reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the murder and changed his vote to “not guilty”. But in Cries of the Unborn, when it comes to how the characters are presented and written, and the manner in which they change their entire worldview like that (*snaps fingers*), it all just makes Ken del Vecchio look like an opinionated, closed-minded hack. But I guess I’m just another Juror #3 worthy of everlasting damnation in the eyes of Ken del Vecchio.

Also, Ken, don’t make your characters do things important to the plot offscreen without the audience or characters knowing and then have them mention it after the fact.

The movie is shot in such a basic, amateur way that it makes Tommy Wiseau and Neil Breen look Oscar-worthy. I both laughed and groaned whenever footage from The Life Zone was shown and presented as footage that was actually shot by a cameraman on location in the hospital-ish facility instead of a ridiculous movie. We were expected to believe that these clips from The Life Zone are actually pieces of evidence being used in a court of law. Does this paint Ken del Vecchio as just that incompetent or having such disrespect for his audience that he played the “let’s just hope they don’t notice” game?

And it not only answers absolutely none of the questions from The Life Zone, but it just creates even more.

But the worst part about this movie is the message. Maybe Ken del Vecchio could exploit some nonexistent legal loophole to justify committing crimes in the name of stopping women from aborting their babies, but his demonization of those who actually support a woman’s right to kill her unborn child as evil monsters who are doomed to eternal suffering in the fires of Hell is absolutely disgusting. Cries of the Unborn does so much more damage to the pro-life argument than The Life Zone. Its preachiness masquerades as being embarrassingly sugarcoated, but underneath that, it is oppressively forceful, and contains even more fearmongering than The Life Zone. And its attempts to justify criminal activity in the name of preventing abortions is at best terrifyingly misguided, and at worst, engaging in every single thing that pro-choicers label us as: preachy, unlawful, forceful, oppressive, fearmongering religious nuts that form our arguments from emotion and pseudoscience. Imagine if criminal activity in the name of stopping abortions became legal tomorrow, and somebody went into an abortion clinic, killed all the doctors there, and bombed the clinic. According to Ken del Vecchio’s logic, those crimes were justified. Even something as simple as someone physically preventing a woman from entering an abortion clinic would be justified. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure Ken del Vecchio didn’t fully consider the legal ramifications that such a belief, if made legal, would garner.

DR. WISE: Yes, we certainly want to change your minds, but we know we can’t do that by shoving things down your throat.

Oh, the irony.

In summation, Cries of the Unborn is only not crushingly boring because of just how much it pisses me off.

Though Cries of the Unborn is one of the absolute worst movies I’ve ever seen, I can’t say it’s the worst, because not only is this not as morally bankrupt as Chaos or Knock Knock, but nobody has seen this movie. Well, almost nobody. It showed up at the Hoboken film festival last year, and it’s been pretty much forgotten since then.

The only reviews of Cries of the Unborn I can find on the entire Internet are on two Christian websites that ignore literally everything wrong with the movie and only praise its message without even considering the legal ramifications. And one of the sites posted its exact same review on another Christian site.

Ken, I’m now speaking to you directly: I want abortion declared illegal as much as you do. But the only way you or I can accomplish this is through the legal system. You would need to submit a case for delegalizing abortion to the lowest-level courts that would not only be worthy for the Supreme Court to even consider looking at, but would be appealing enough for the lower-level courts to not immediately throw out. You could call your local congressman and ask him/her to submit a bill delegalizing abortion, but considering just how strongly the pro-aborts defend abortion on demand at any time for any reason, you’re going to have to start by taking baby steps and asking your local congressman to introduce a bill that would be appealing to the pro-aborts. And a good place to start would be a bill stopping taxpayer dollars from funding Planned Parenthood. Good freaking luck.

The reason I’m saying that the only way you can help get things done is through the legal system is because you making movies like this is actively delegitimizing the pro-life cause. And as hard as you’re trying to get your message out, nobody sees your movies, and those who do hate them.

But I guess I’m just another Juror #3 in your eyes.

Final Verdict: Thumbs Down. I don’t want to think about these movies anymore.

However, I may consider adding to this review, should I ever have the opportunity to show this movie to my uncle, who happens to be a lawyer.

Inside (remake) (.5/5)

So I just saw the American remake of one of the best films of the New French Extremity movement, A l’Interieur (Inside), and it was pretty freaking pathetic.

So for those of you who don’t know, the movie is about a very pregnant woman named Sarah who recently lost her husband. On Christmas Eve night, a psychopathic woman in a black dress sneaks into her home. Her goal is to take Sarah’s baby, no matter the cost.

The original A l’Interieur, while not being a particularly fantastic film, is known among horror circles as having some of the most insanely brutal violence ever put on film. It was grisly, it was visceral, and at times it was genuinely shocking. It was completely no-holds-barred, made some commentary about femininity and motherhood, and is seen as not only one of the best films of 2007, but one of the best films in its subgenre which includes Martyrs, Frontiere(s), Haute Tension (High Tension), Seul Contre Tous (I Stand Alone), Irreversible, Trouble Every Day, Dans ma Peau (In My Skin), Baise-Moi (F-ck Me), Calvaire (Calvary), and Sheitan. I have not seen many of these films, but I intend to.

Where A l’Interieur‘s remake fails most noticeably is in just how amazingly tame it is. There is very little gore, and whatever gore there is is not graphic at all. In the original, a huge part of the experience was the sheer brutality of the violent acts committed, but here, it winds up feeling almost like a Lifetime movie with how tame the violence is. Was this movie made for pathetic beta cucks who couldn’t stomach the original? Was an American studio just unwilling to embrace how messed-up the movie was and decided to take out basically all of what made the original so memorable?

Which leads into my next point: what is even the point of this movie anyway? To satisfy the small niche of uncultured swine that are too lazy to read English subtitles? They never deserved to experience such a movie anyway. It’s like when the Spanish horror movie REC was remade as the American Quarantine. I’ll probably review that one eventually. Like Quarantine, Inside loses so much of what made the original special, from various themes tackled in the original’s plot to well-done violence to convincing acting to proper camerawork to even the original’s approach to horror. It’s not worth butchering a legitimately scary and blisteringly tense cinematic experience to appease a group of disgusting twats who are unwilling to even consider branching out to world cinema. Want an example of a remake of a foreign film done right? Martin Scorcese’s The Departed, a remake of the Hong Kong movie Infernal Affairs.

Acting. Alysson Paradis and Beatrice Dalle, who were absolutely amazing in the original, are replaced with Rachel Nichols and Laura Harring. And they are completely worthless. Alysson Paradis’s Sarah was going through crippling depression, which was conveyed supremely well, but she was so good at convincing me that she was a terrified woman trapped in an crazy scary situation. Rachel Nichols can’t convince me that she’s really undergoing a horrifically traumatizing experience, and frankly, she just looks kind of lost. And even though Laura Harring has plenty of films under her belt, she’s absolutely awful here. While I absolutely believed that Beatrice Dalle was absolutely insane and was completely prepared to do anything to steal Sarah’s baby, Laura Harring really just isn’t even trying to even look scary. She puts on one of the most underacted performances of basically the entire year. The only other time this year I have seen a performance by an actress who just does not care would have to be whatever-her-name-is that plays the Indian chick in freaking Mohawk. I would be willing to accept that Nichols and Harring are simply just the subjects of extremely poor direction, but were there seriously no better actresses who came to audition?

The reason I don’t think that the original movie was fantastic was because I viewed the majority of the killings in that film as happening out of misunderstandings or coincidences or just overall questionable circumstances. But what saved the movie was the fact that Sarah was just so well developed and sympathetic, Beatrice Dalle was amazingly scary, the violence was incredible, some of the dumb decisions actually had a reason to be there other than because plot, the acting was phenomenal, the camerawork was pretty much expertly done, and the tension was through the freaking roof. I can remember one particular shot toward the beginning of the original movie that showed Sarah going to sleep on either a bed or a couch in her house that is only lit by the streetlights outside. You see the psycho woman just fade in from a totally dark doorway. She doesn’t come all the way out of the darkness, but you see just enough of her to know that she’s there. That moment in that movie is legitimately terrifying.

But in the remake, the entire plot can only move forward with the help from a misunderstanding, someone making a stupid decision, or things just plain screwing up. That is literally how the plot happens. There are a series of really stupid occurrences that happen because Sarah is not wearing her hearing aid. She could have successfully avoided two characters’ deaths had she just been wearing her f-cking hearing aid. See, whenever I come across a movie where much of the conflict in it stems from various misunderstandings, I always start thinking up these silly fantasy scenarios in my head, wondering what might have happened if said misunderstanding(s) hadn’t happened.

The movie doesn’t even give me the proper time illustrating that Sarah is in a really bad place emotionally and establishing that something weird’s going on and that the psycho woman is already in the house before crap hits the fan. Rather, it needs to save time for some really stupid bullcrap at the end. I’ll get to that later.

While the original really liked its over-saturated yellow filter when it came to lighting, which actually really added to the overall discomfort, the remake just makes everything gray, and even has a 25% darkness filter over every shot. It doesn’t help that the camera starts shaking at the worst possible moments. And even that shot that I mentioned earlier is just replaced by a scene in which lightning from a window illuminates the psycho woman standing next to Sarah’s bed in, of course, a jumpscare. And no, American filmmakers, unless lightning is hitting the ground literally right next to you, thunder and lightning never happen at the same time.

And the freaking ending. See, in the original, the movie ended in probably the most insanely brutal and f-cked-up way possible: Sarah starts giving birth to her baby, but it’s stuck. So the psycho woman has to perform an emergency Caesarean-section on Sarah to get the baby out. This is shown in VERY graphic detail, and there is blood EVERYWHERE. The birth scene ends, and the movie ends with a shot of the dead, blood-drenched Sarah and a shot of the psycho woman sitting in a rocking chair holding the baby. In the end, the psycho woman got exactly what she came for in probably the most brutal, visceral, and shocking way possible.

But the remake changes the ending in the worst possible way. Remember how when The Descent was brought to America, they truncated the ending because the original ending was “too sad”? Remember the American remake of The Vanishing, and how its ending was changed because the original’s ending was too disturbing? Remember that the American remake of Martyrs had the ending changed because the original’s ending was just too bleak and nihilistic? Well, here you go. I’m not going to spoil the ending because 1) it’s so insulting to the original’s fans and audiences in general to change one of the most messed-up endings ever into a ridiculously stupid happy one, and 2) regardless of whether or not you have seen the original A l’Interieur, I BESEECH YOU, DO NOT WATCH THIS REMAKE. THIS CRAP NEEDS TO STOP.

And I’m giving Inside a .5 out of 5, because really, it’s just another dime-a-dozen crappy remake rather than something that insults me on a fundamental level.

Mohawk (0/5)

So I just saw Ted Geoghegan’s new movie Mohawk, and it was worse than f-cking cancer. Now, I’d been interested in seeing this movie for the better part of two years, ever since his directorial debut We Are Still Here came out. I wasn’t one of the people that believed that Ted Geoghegan was some sort of Messiah that would save the horror genre; after all, I only ever thought that We Are Still Here was only okay. But it got a mountain of good reviews, so I was interested in seeing where he would go from here. But after seeing the abomination that is Mohawk, I can safely confirm that Geoghegan is nothing more than a one hit wonder. He made one good movie, and the rest of his movies are going to be crap.

First off, a brief history lesson for the illiterate: Native Americans were not this beautiful, advanced, horsebacked civilization in tune with nature and painted with colors of the wind to whom the concept of war was foreign. A pretty large majority of them were actually violent, savage, conquering, genocidal, evil people that only stopped genociding each other when the white man showed up. They’d been at war with each other since the Inuit tribes crossed the Bering Sea land bridge. Much of them practiced slavery, rape, cannibalism, human sacrifice, and various other horrific acts that would make Hitler look tame. And for a more specific example, the Comanche tribes would target women and children, butcher babies, and roast people alive. And where do you think we learned the noble and ancient art of scalping? In fact, the only reason that the white man could conquer this foreign and harsh yet resource-rich land was with the assistance of various tribes who had bones to pick with other ones. The conquistadors didn’t take over the continent with only a few hundred dudes; they did it with tens of thousands of other natives, like Cortez toppling the Aztec empire with fifty thousand other natives enslaved by the Aztecs. Yeah, the white man did some pretty nasty things to them, but it wasn’t nearly as horrific as the things that the natives were doing to each other. In fact, the white man’s hands are pretty much clean; all they had to do was hand over some fire-water and boom-boom sticks to the natives and let them do the dirty work. Also, smallpox blankets weren’t a thing. Any knowledge of germs or viruses or bacteria let alone microbial warfare back then would have gotten you labeled as a witch and burned at the stake. And no, the Native Americans were not wiped out through genocide; they were wiped out through diseases that the white man had not only long since gained immunity to, but, as stated earlier, had little to no knowledge of. Fast-forward five hundred years, and you’re getting super triggered reading this on your Apple laptop or your smartphone. I’m not some racist scumbag – this is freaking history. Now, before you label me as some horrible alt-right white nationalist, STOP. All I am doing is stating the facts. I’m not acting like the white man was some altruistic moral arbiter. Civilizations clash. It’s happened since well before the beginning of recorded history. And typically, the guys with the boom-boom sticks would beat the guys who not only had never heard of plumbing, transportation, mathematics, animal domestication, or anything that’s led to you reading this right now, but were still living so deeply in the Stone Age that they didn’t even use the wheel. That’s right: when the pilgrims led by William Bradford encountered Squanto and his bros, they still hadn’t even thought of anything resembling a wheel. There’s no difference between Anglo-Americans conquering North America and the Roman Empire conquering much of Eurasia. There’s nothing super-evil about the Americans conquering North America; it’s just that the clash of civilization is that much worse when the wheel-using white guys conquer the non-wheel-using natives. And when dealing with barbaric nomads, typically the guys with the guns win. It’s not exclusive to America. It’s not even that uncommon. But the American people weren’t these monsters hellbent on destroying every last native. Quite the contrary – the vast majority of Americans were trying to reach out to them, bring them into their culture, convert them to Christianity, and even intermarry (which was amazingly common). Yes, killing is very, very wrong. But so is misleading and guilt-tripping the masses of future generations for crimes they had no part in. And the remnants of Native American tribes have long since abandoned their violent ways. Now they’re just alcoholics living on government-owned reservations. Yes, the Americans conquered the continent, but they also set up a constitutional representative republic, advanced in a mere few centuries what the natives failed to do for millennia, and are the number one force for good on the planet. They don’t teach this in schools anymore because the only people in history that are to be viewed as irrevocably, irreparably evil is the white man. But I’m not allowed to point this out, because knowing my history apparently makes me a racist.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, on to the movie.

I brought up the history lesson for a reason: in Mohawk, the historically illiterate writers portrayed the Mohawk tribe (which, in Algonquin, means “flesh eaters”), which, in the movie, consists of a dozen or so people, as a peaceful people who are so advanced that the main chick wearing Furiosa-style face paint even wears a brightly colored miniskirt. The writers portray the British folk as these really nice people who really don’t want to ask the natives to give up their land. And they portray Americans as these eeeeeeeevil savages who want to conquer and destroy everything. Sorry, but I’m not sure that’s historically accurate.

I wasn’t aware that having positive opinions about the United States of America and believing that its founding was ordained by God himself was such a controversial and unpopular opinion. This is one of the most anti-American movies I have ever seen, and it’s not even subtle about it. It’s so in-your-face and preachy and so unwilling to listen to the other side of history that it feels like propaganda.

Oh, and the movie is pretty awfully made when it comes to even the most basic building blocks of filmmaking.

Like story and characters. The story is supposed to be about this Mohawk woman whose name escapes me who’s the lover of some British guy whose name escapes me. Her suitor, some Mohawk guy whose name escapes me, is super angry about the Mohawk tribe’s neutrality, so he decides to do his own one man war against the Americans by burning down a fort full of sleeping American soldiers. That’s totally the moral thing to do and is totally not hypocritical at all. But seven American soldiers survive and begin hunting down the Mohawk woman, her lover, and her suitor. But the execution of this story isn’t even remotely competent, as rather than focus almost entirely on the protagonists and make the antagonists this unseen but ever-present threat, the antagonists get well over two-thirds of the screentime. This ties into the poorly crafted characters, or, should I say, stereotypes. All of the American soldiers are portrayed as super-racist hicks that want nothing more than to kill every last native and destroy the continent. The Mohawk woman is the peaceful native with a painted face that just wants to be with her lover. The Brit is the typical nice guy sympathetic to the natives’ plight. The Mohawk guy is killed off less than halfway through the movie, so I don’t care. See, this type of movie should be focusing on the protagonists, their desperation to escape, and their paranoia that the antagonists could be hiding under every rock and behind every tree and bush. But no. This movie focuses on the American soldiers and tries so ungodly hard to paint them as evil, hypocritical savages, but in knowing that the movie was so historically incorrect in doing so, I wound up siding with the soldiers and hoping that they would finally, blessedly hunt down and kill the protagonists quickly so the movie would be over. Mohawk spends so little time on the protagonists (and even makes the Mohawk woman the unseen presence toward the end) that I just didn’t care. The number one thing that Mohawk needed to do was to make me root for its main character (who, by the way, has perfect teeth for living in the early nineteenth century), and it failed so spectacularly at doing that that I was actively rooting for her demise.

And even when it comes to the technical side of filmmaking, Mohawk is thoroughly atrocious. The acting is so bad, having no middle ground between bored and painful, with the chick playing the Mohawk woman being the worst offender. The entire freaking movie, she lethargically strolls around the set looking super bored. She doesn’t just sound bored – she sounds dead. Oh, and she’s pretty freaking white for a Native American. The American soldiers all spit out their dialogue with the most cliche American South accent ever. One of them is even trying to be just like Gibbs from Pirates of the Caribbean from the look to the voice. Yeah, unlike the Mohawk woman, the other actors are at least trying, but they clearly got really crummy direction. I’m looking at you, Ted. It’s pretty obvious that these actors are either no-namers or friends with or neighbors of the director.

The camerawork is laughable. It’s clear that this movie was made with no budget and so was shot on the cheapest equipment possible in a vague forest that I presume was near the director’s home. The camera never stops shaking and seems to be really allergic to shooting at night without a ton of lights. It’s poorly lit. It’s poorly edited. The only thing in this movie that looks even remotely good is the forest setting. But that automatically looks good because it’s the goddamn forest.

The costumes are full of anachronisms, with the most obvious example being that the main character wears a brightly-colored miniskirt. The only attempts to make the ostensibly Native American actors look Native American was to plaster them in ridiculous face paint. The numerous squeamish gore scenes are pretty laughably cheap and gratuitous, with the sound effects and blood gurgling being way overdone. And throughout the movie, you will see the characters engaging in actions that are highly unrealistic and silly.

The movie opened with some really painful electronic synth soundtrack, and I immediately thought, Oh, this movie’s going to try and emulate one from the ’80s. But the cruddy, lazy attempt at a Carpenter-esque soundtrack is the only remotely ’80s thing about this movie. It’s as if the director saw a few Carpenter and Fulci movies and thought himself a connoisseur of ’80s horror.

The horrible acting, the awful cinematography, the awful soundtrack, the blatant anachronisms, the poor costumes, the horribly botched attempt to make an ’80s-style movie, and the overall highly unpleasant experience that the movie as a whole is makes Mohawk damn near unwatchable. It’s a very angry, bitter, vengeful anti-American screed put to ninety minutes of celluloid. It’s not even a movie – it’s just two handfuls of random people tossed onscreen and forced to act out pitiful dialogue, and a desperate attempt to paint the founding of America as the horrific, super-racist spawning of a cancer on the world.

By the way, I didn’t go into this movie expecting to hate it. I saw the good reviews (though most of them were engaging in painfully obvious virtue-signaling) and ignored the low IMDb score and paid seven bucks to rent it on Amazon.

In 1968, George Romero released Night of the Living Dead. It was made for only a hundred thousand bucks, and the cast was made up of his friends and neighbors. It wound up being one of the greatest horror movies ever made and is still being viewed as a classic, and George Romero, God rest his soul, is looked at as one of the masters of horror. It seems that Ted Geoghegan was trying to do the same, but he failed miserably.

And I’m giving Mohawk a 0 out of 5. Get this f-cking thing away from me.

Review 95: The Life Zone (0/5)

Image result for the life zone

The Life Zone

Directed by Rod Weber

Starring Robert Loggia, Blanche Baker, Angela Little, Lindsey Haun, Nina Transfeld

Released on June 10, 2011

Running time: 1h 21m

Rated PG-13

Genre: Um…horror?

Obviously, everyone knows that abortion is the termination of a pregnancy. Abortion is an extremely touchy subject, especially when discussing it around women. Definitions of it range from “removal of a nonliving and inhuman but somehow parasitic clump of cells” to “mass genocide of unborn children in various disgusting ways and on a massive scale”. Opinions on it range from thinking that abortion can be done at any time for any reason to a complete ban unless the pregnancy is threatening the life of the mother. Most people try to take some sort of middle ground.

For the record, I am as staunchly pro-life as one can get, and view abortion as one of the greatest evils ever devised in human history. HOWEVER: the last thing I am willing to do is get in your face and scream about it. I’m not like one of those suspiciously rare maniacs that bombs abortion clinics and murders abortionists. Any and all attempts on my part to defund abortion providers and end the practice of abortion once and for all will only ever be through the legal system and through nonviolent means. I’m not going to spend this entire review screeching about how evil abortion is and alienating anyone who doesn’t share my opinions.

And when it comes to the movie I’m reviewing today, even though I’m super-pro-life, even I think that The Life Zone is a miserable and borderline unendurable experience.

Before I get into the film itself, I should probably talk about this movie’s writer and producer, Ken del Vecchio.

Vecchio is a guy with a massively overinflated ego and a nonexistent sense of self-awareness who has directed, produced, and acted in over thirty low-budget films, the vast majority of which you have probably not seen. I certainly haven’t. I never even heard of Ken del Vecchio until I saw The Life Zone. He is also a lawyer who has written plenty of books on practicing law (none of which I have read). Somehow, in 2010, he was elected to serve as a town judge in New Jersey. He was balancing his careers of filmmaker and judge pretty shakily until he released the controversial movie O.B.A.M. Nude, an obvious attempted punch to the d!ck of former President Barack Obama. This film depicted Vecchio playing a lazy, coke-snorting law student who makes a deal with the Devil, attends Harvard Law School, becomes a community organizer and eventually President, and transforms America into a communist dictatorship. Yeah, I couldn’t stand Obama, but I personally saw him as just this tiny, sad, misguided little man who had no idea what he was doing. He certainly wasn’t the type of guy to turn America into Soviet Russia or what Venezuela is now. The release of this film caused a state judicial panel to deem Vecchio’s two careers to be ethically conflicting. Rather than put up a fight, Vecchio stepped down and declared himself a martyr. He kept making a buttload of movies and tried to run for State Senate in New Jersey twice. He failed in both areas.

His IMDb bio, which he wrote himself under a fake name, refers to him as “critically acclaimed”. Does Kenny Boy know what projection is?

The Life Zone, released in 2011, is easily Vecchio’s most well-known movie. It was released as a pro-life horror movie. Because the two totally go together. It was even rated PG-13, so everyone can see it. This should be fun. The only defense I can offer Ken del Vecchio is that he put his money where his mouth is.

I can’t believe I actually spent money to rent this on Amazon.

We begin with three whole minutes of this eighty-minute movie just panning over or fading to different shots of a large hospital-ish room covered in equipment and religious imagery.

So three random women wake up in hospital beds in this large room in this Jesus-kissing hospital. There is a table next to each bed with a Bible and rosary on each, and there is a cross and a picture of Jesus and the Virgin Mary above each bed.

The first woman, Lara, played by literal Playboy playmate Angela Little, wakes up and staggers around the room. Ominous whispering that has nothing to do with anything is heard. Lara collapses in front of a door, but she tries the handle and it is locked. Lara flubs a line. And her crying in desperation is so poorly acted. Lara hears a scream, and the title card shows up using a very cheap font.

Lara runs over to the second woman, Natalie, who is screaming because there’s blood on her hands. It’s coming from a wound on her knee, which has only been bandaged with a soaked stack of gauze. After the first few minutes of the movie, the wounded knee is never mentioned again. The two notice a third woman, Staci, and try to wake her up. They hear a voice behind them, and turn around to see a TV with an old man (Loggia) on the screen. The old man beckons them forward. Staci abruptly wakes up and goes toward the TV.

Apparently, what is being shown on the TV is a live feed, and the old man addresses the women, spouting a bunch of meaningless dialogue before the feed cuts out. Through the dialogue that the old man announced rather than acted out, the women are able to determine why they are here. But before that happens, Staci implies that somehow she is telepathic. This is completely random and out of nowhere, and nothing like this is ever mentioned again.

They’ve obviously been kidnapped, but why? Well, the reason that the three women have been kidnapped and are being held in this hospital-like room is because the three were all about to have abortions. Yes, that’s why.

A door opens and a doctor, Victoria Wise (Baker), walks in. She confirms their suspicions about why they were kidnapped, accuses them of attempted murder, and says that they will be held here until they give birth to their children, just as God planned. And the clunky dialogue exchanged between the four women is so ungodly bad. It is physically painful to hear, especially when recited by painfully bad actors. It’s clear that these ladies cannot act to save their own lives. It’s so obvious that the director only ever used the first take.

So we’re basically in a crappy version of Saw, except here, the victims’ captor isn’t a vigilante looking to make people atone for their sins by making them inflict grievous bodily harm on themselves that reflects their sins, but rather a pair of radical pro-lifers that are keeping their victims captive but comfortable and healthy until their babies are born. And in case you’re about to say, “Why are you saying that this is some radically pro-life movie when the characters here are written in such a way that the movie is obviously pushing a hardcore pro-choice bent?” Oh, just you wait. This movie is undeniably pro-life and is so in the worst possible ways. How that message will be conveyed will be revealed later, and you’re not gonna like it.

And since these women are to be kept healthy and comfortable until their babies are born, where’s the threat supposed to be? What is supposed to be the source of horror in this “pro-life horror movie”?

The identities and beliefs of the stereotypes masquerading as characters are revealed. Lara is a super-lawyer (I see what you did there, Ken) and is pretty hardcore pro-choice, but she believes in some sort of middle ground and is ultimately accepting of the situation and the inevitable birth of her child. Natalie is the goody-two-shoes who was pressured into her attempted abortion by her boyfriend, but now that she’s in this hospital/prison, she’s more than happy to carry her baby to term, and she rather quickly adopts beliefs that abortion is evil. Staci is the annoying, bitchy, super-radical pro-abort that believes in abortion on demand at any time for any reason and that the baby growing inside of her is nothing more than an inhuman clump of cells. And Dr. Wise is a pretty staunch pro-lifer that is adamant about Lara, Natalie, and Staci carrying their babies to term because she herself could not have children. This is all the depth these characters get, and this is what determines their actions for the rest of the movie. You can clearly tell the movie’s attitude towards each character as well as its political bent by how more or less unlikable they are. They try to make Natalie and Dr. Wise likable by having Natalie be super nice and super happy to be giving birth to her child, and giving Dr. Wise a backstory about how her barrenness destroyed her marriage because I guess that her husband never even considered adoption. They’re rather ambivalent about making Lara likable, but they eventually make her hesitantly accepting of her situation. And they make Staci super unlikable by having her be super bitchy and super annoying and unwilling to even listen to other points of view. While there are radical pro-aborts in our society, including such a character in this movie is not going to make it appeal to the pro-choice crowd.

So this is basically where the plot stops until the last five minutes of the movie. I’m not kidding. All that happens until the last five minutes consists of scenes of

  • The women being forced to sit and watch videos about people’s varying opinions on abortion, the list of reasons people decide to abort, the touchy politics of abortion, abortion’s dubious legality, and whether or not what is legal is moral, all with the intent of eventually changing the women’s opinions into something more pro-life. They’re not even the touching, enlightening, or even scientifically substantive kind. These videos were clearly just made for the film with random people.
  • The women arguing amongst themselves with Dr. Wise sometimes included about the morality of and reasons for or against abortion, while using very basic talking points and dollar-store political commentary. Neither argument is convincing in the slightest, each argument is basically representative of very simple and stereotypical caricatures, and the fact that neither Staci nor Natalie and Dr. Wise are willing to listen to the other side of the aisle makes these exchanges of dialogue so painful that I had to shut my eyes. The characters go through each of these basic talking points as if they’re going through a checklist of screeds that either side parrots. This crap isn’t doing either argument any favors.

HIGHLIGHTS: 1) My head was in my hands when Lara tried to BS Dr. Wise by spending thirty seconds faking that she’s changed her views. 2) Staci brings up crazy pro-lifers that bomb abortion clinics and murder abortionists. Here’s a little fun fact for you: in the more than one hundred years since the founding of Planned Parenthood, there have been at most a dozen murders done for this reason. And seventeen people were killed in the Parkland shooting. I think crazy people getting their hands on guns when law enforcement have been given all these warnings and notices but haven’t done anything about the potential shooter is a much more pressing issue than radical Christian pro-lifers bombing abortion clinics. That’s just the facts, buddy. 3) When Staci is arguing with Dr. Wise, she brings up the oft-heard talking point of “Who are you to tell me what to do with my body?” Dr. Wise fails to bring up the obvious answer: “That baby growing inside you is not your body. It’s an entirely new person. Sure, it’s relying on you for sustenance, but it’s not your body, and you do not have the right to tell your unborn child that s/he does not have a right to his/her body.” 4) Throughout the movie, Staci can never really refute pro-life arguments, instead resorting to ad hominem attacks or question dodging such as calling a particular argument “stupid” or Natalie “juvenile” or saying, “Maybe I just don’t care. It’s my right.”

  • The women being addressed by the Old Man on the TV and Dr. Wise. By the way, if the women try to escape, an electronic device implanted in their necks will release an anesthetic into their blood, knocking them out. If they somehow manage to get away, they will die, as they are hundreds of miles from civilization. So where exactly are they?

HIGHLIGHTS: 1) When Dr. Wise is comparing the devices in the women’s necks to electric dog collars and the outside of the facility to an electric fence, the Old Man shouts “ZAP!” loud enough to be considered a jumpscare. 2) I couldn’t help but think that maybe these radical pro-lifers keeping these women as hostages could have at least thought of something simple: just give these women an ultrasound. Maybe, once these women see the obvious humanity to what is growing in their wombs, they would reconsider abortion. Maybe that would have been a better course of action. 3) After the women just barely finish watching a newscast featuring people that actually support abortion, the Old Man comes back on with a massive shout. Was that supposed to be a jumpscare? He even tosses out a little casual sexism.

  • The women talking about escaping the facility. It all leads to nothing. No escape is made, and said talk of escape only ever serves to pad out the runtime.

HIGHLIGHTS: 1) Staci brings up the fact that they’ve only ever seen Dr. Wise and the Old Man, and says that there maybe is no one else there. Which begs the question: who else is there besides Dr. Wise and the Old Man? We never see anyone else, and for all we know, there could be no one else. Why don’t the women try to escape? We know that whoever is there is not going to hurt the women, as they don’t want to hurt their unborn children. 2) Natalie even brings up that they somehow kidnapped them from three different abortion clinics around the country, which begs the question: How? How far-reaching is this organization that they could kidnap three women from different locations across America? And what even are the circumstances surrounding this whole operation? What group is this? When did it start? Who did this group convince to join them? This facility looks like it took time to build, so where did they get all this money to buy a plot of land in the middle of nowhere, build a hospital-type building, and procure all the necessary equipment and technology? What construction team built this place? Does the government know about this? Where did this group get the legal backing to run their little facility? Who else knows of this place? Who even works here? 3) Staci talks of getting out by forcefully aborting her baby through various means, despite not thinking of the idea that maybe if she does that, she will be killed. She later just plops onto the ground randomly, a blood splotch inexplicably appearing under her head, and Dr. Wise tells Natalie to prepare for an emergency delivery. The scene goes on for about a minute more, then randomly cuts off. The emergency delivery is never mentioned again, and the next time we see Staci, she’s just got a bandage around her head.

  • The women being given a video for each of them showing a family member wishing them well. 1) For Natalie, it’s her dad. In the video, her dad shows her her younger brother Mario. Just asking, but why do people pronounce Mario as “marry-oh”? So how large is the age gap between Natalie and Mario, and how old were her parents when they had him? The dad looks like he’s in his late fifties, Natalie is in her early twenties, and Mario looks like he’s six. 2) For Lara, it’s her boyfriend. He says nothing important. 3) For Staci, it’s her older sister, who tells her not to give in. The information I gleaned from this video is that Staci apparently has some sort of political clout, and that her sister is apparently an influential member of the press, and together, they force whatever laws they can. And the way they make it sound is remarkably mean-spirited. I wonder what this movie’s attitude toward Staci and her sister was supposed to be.
  • The women just hanging around and talking about nothing important.

HIGHLIGHTS: 1) Yeah, I totally believe that this Playboy Playmate is a lawyer. 2) A random scene of the women mockingly mimicking Dr. Wise and the Old Man’s mannerisms and then going back into arguing about abortion. 3) A scene of Lara, Natalie, and Dr. Wise talking – Lara and Natalie ask Dr. Wise about her backstory and who the Old Man really is, and Dr. Wise deflects the question in a really dumb way. After a few minutes of dodging the question, she finally gives in. 4) A scene in which the three girls play Trivial Pursuit.

  • Random dream sequences. I guess these are supposed to be images and sequences planted directly in the women’s heads by the neck devices. The first features thirty seconds of flashing imagery such as Hitler, Count Orlok from Nosferatu, fire, skulls, explosions, insects, as well as depictions of Africans and Chinamen that could be considered racist. The second features different people of every race, age, and gender doing random things, spazzing out, saying that you have the right to do what you want with your own body, and that if you don’t want the baby, then abort it. They say this in multiple languages and in multiple emotions, such as humor, creepiness, anger, annoyance. The sounds coming out of their mouths then are dubbed with babies crying. These dream sequences are so disjointed, so random, and so meaningless that I’m genuinely wondering why these were even here. To pad the runtime?
  • A pointless flashback of Dr. Wise losing her husband because he’s adamant about wanting a family, as Dr. Wise is barren. Also, because of her barrenness, part of this flashback features her parents disowning her. Wow. That’s pleasant.
  • Just random crap. For example, Staci wakes up to hear a growl and a shadow pass by her bed. Nothing of the sort ever happens again. A random scene of Staci slowly, dramatically walking up to a door, the music building, and it opening by itself to reveal Dr. Wise. Was that supposed to be scary? A scene of Dr. Wise weighing Staci, who is now 140 pounds. Staci remarks that she used to be thirty pounds lighter. I highly doubt that Staci used to be 110 pounds.

And throughout all of these scenes, the dialogue is written and acted out to take as long as possible. No, the actresses aren’t speaking very slowly, but they speak slowly enough and insert long enough pauses between sentences to make what should take thirty seconds take five or more minutes. It doesn’t help that the acting in this movie is worse than Barack Obama reading off his teleprompter. And when this movie is as short as it is, it feels like the writer and director were padding out the runtime as long as possible. If you take out every pointless scene, the movie would be about twenty to thirty minutes long. It’s so poorly written and painfully tedious to sit through that it really feels like Ken del Vecchio has no idea how to write a script.

And the passage of time in this movie is totally out of whack. The way this movie conveys the passage of time makes it feel like this movie takes place over a few days – hell, a week at the most – not seven months.

And even the cinematography is so flat and boring and colorless. Every shot is composed in such a basic way. The only lighting is the not-too-bright lights in the hospital room. And there is absolutely no color except in the videos shown on the TV or the dream sequences. And the sheer amount of color in these videos and dream sequences is in such conflict with the drab environment of the hospital room that it takes me out of the movie.

If you’ve thought that The Life Zone was bad enough thus far, you haven’t seen anything yet. The ending of this film is so out-there, so insane, so unbelievably intelligence-insulting that it will put you in a funk for days like it did me.

The last five minutes of this movie begins with the women playing Trivial Pursuit. Staci’s actually pretty good at it. Yes, movie, I already knew that Charles Durning was a two-time Oscar nominee that also won the Silver Star medal in World War II. I’m sure that had nothing to do with the fact that Charles Durning has a cameo in this movie as Dr. Wise’s father. And then literally out of nowhere, Lara goes into labor. All three women go into labor, surprisingly enough.

As the soundtrack that’s an obvious ripoff of Clint Mansell’s “Lux Aeterna” from Requiem for a Dream and was obviously played via music notation program blares, the women begin giving birth to their children. All this over-the-top screaming, so realistic. Wow, these women totally sound like they’re in pain. (I haven’t been present for a birth, so I wouldn’t know.) Lara gives birth first, then Natalie. Staci, however, is having trouble birthing her child, so Dr. Wise reaches in there to pull it out. I have no idea if this is medically safe, and I’ve found mixed opinions on the Internet. Staci gives birth, but Dr. Wise realizes that Staci is actually giving birth to twins. How ironic – the woman most in favor of abortion is giving birth to twins. The final twin is born, and Staci refuses to hold them or even see them. The scene cuts to black for several seconds.

Fade in from black. Natalie and Lara are in their beds, happily holding their babies, which I presume are fakes like the ones in American Sniper. But Staci’s lying on her side, holding her stomach and in pain. She calls Dr. Wise over, who takes over a minute to finally reveal to Staci that she’s still pregnant. Despite both saying that it’s impossible, we see the Old Man on the TV say to them:

OLD MAN: Nothing’s impossible…when you’re in Hell.

That’s the twist ending that would make even M. Night Shyamalan recoil and hold his nose: Staci and Dr. Wise are in Hell – Staci died on the operating table in the abortion clinic, and Dr. Wise committed suicide after she learned that her husband was having children with another woman, and that this is their punishment: an endless cycle of Staci getting pregnant and giving birth over and over again, and Dr. Wise always being there to take care of her and help her deliver her babies. And the Old Man is the Devil himself.

As for Lara and Natalie? They’ve inexplicably vanished, leaving Staci and Dr. Wise alone in the room. The Jesus and Virgin Mary pictures, tables, Bibles, and rosaries have disappeared, and the crosses are now upside-down.

The last shot is of Staci and Dr. Wise looking at each other, both realizing the magnitude of their eternal punishment.

My interpretation: the realm they were in was actually purgatory or limbo or something. All three women died on the operating table when they went to have their abortions, and were sent here in order to either atone for their heinous sins or further damn their souls. Natalie and Lara atoned for their sins by accepting their babies and loving them unconditionally when the crucial time came, so they were forgiven and went to heaven, but Staci refused to accept her children even after they were born, so she further damned her own soul and went to Hell. As for Dr. Wise, apparently suicide is a sin worthy of damnation in Ken del Vecchio’s particular sect of Christianity. That’s not disgusting at all.

The movie began as one of the most inept and uncomfortably radical pro-choice and anti-Christian screeds I’ve ever seen, and then slowly morphed into the most insulting Chick tract I’ve ever read. That is just pathetic.

And with the just over five minutes of credits as well as the three-minute opening credits, the movie’s length is actually less than seventy-two minutes.

The Life Zone is not a horror movie. Nothing happens at all. There is no tension. There is no dread. There is no threat. Nothing is developed. There is no buildup to a climax. And the twist ending is more facepalm-worthy than horror-worthy.

This movie was entirely crafted (in the loosest definition) around the argument that abortion is evil and anyone who aborts their baby will have their soul damned to Hell, but the message falls flat and even has the opposite effect on the movie and those who made it, making pro-lifers look like insane criminals practicing blind faith and committing horrible acts in the name of their hateful, vengeful God. I guess I wasn’t expecting much else out of such a premise, but I was still holding out hope that the overall moral would be less crazy and wouldn’t look at the world in terms of black and white. Because newsflash, the world isn’t like that. There’s a tiny bit of white and a good amount of black, and the rest is a ton of every single shade of gray. That’s just what the world is, and God will judge all of us according to our faith and works in the end (yes, I said works, not just faith). If you want to make the pro-life stance seem reasonable, taking such an extreme stance is not how to win anyone to your side. Making the characters with the moral high ground radical pro-lifers with such insane and misguided views that even Dr. Josef Mengele would call them extreme is not the way to go about it.

And instead of trying to make an entertaining movie with a bit of a message, Ken del Vecchio was so focused on making a radical pro-life argument and silencing any pro-choice responses that he forgot to make a film. The centerpiece of this movie is the women engaging in cheap arguments that sound like they’re reading off a bunch of bullet points. It’s like Ken del Vecchio forgot to tell a story, develop some characters, or make the movie even slightly entertaining, scary, or even morally sound.

And like the vast majority of faith-based movies that come out even nowadays, The Life Zone is not a movie. It’s nothing more than a poorly thought out and crafted political argument masquerading as a movie. It features three women who, rather than being actual characters, are nothing more than talking heads serving as representations of women who are so cliché and stereotypical and caricaturish that it’s actually pretty damn sexist. And I’m not just using that as a throwaway term or a straw man. According to The Life Zone, women are either sinful yet repentant, duplicitous, or deliberately unpleasant. And the characters do pretty much nothing but sit around for just shy of an hour discussing abortion through cringey, unnatural dialogue and watch one-sided filmed arguments about abortion. They do not grow as characters, they have no arcs, and if their opinions change, they change as quickly as though they’ve had their minds physically changed in an instant by holy power. This entire movie is nothing more than the logical fallacy known as the strawwoman. Even on a technical level, this movie is bad, with the acting and dialogue being painful, the story being basically nonexistent, the cinematography being flat, lifeless, and ugly, and the political commentary being dollar-store quality. There are several sideplots and character backstories introduced, and they all lead nowhere. Yeah, they’ve got a basic idea, a beginning, and a twist ending, but there’s nothing in between. It was just so focused on presenting motherhood as good and abortion as evil that it forgot to be a movie. It was basically just Saw with a terrible pro-life bent.

And even the message is pretty disgusting: the only good way for a woman to live is to bear children. If you abort the baby or even if you simply choose not to be a mother, you’re basically screwed. And even if you have a barren womb, your life is basically worthless, as no one will love you, your husband will leave you to have children with another woman, and your parents will disown you. And why is constant pregnancy and delivery being used as a punishment in Hell? As jumbled as Ken del Vecchio’s attempts at getting his message across may be, his intentions and his understanding of women’s actual issues is pretty damn clear: The Gospel According to Ken states that women are as important and as complex as the fact that women can have babies. Has Ken ever met a woman, let alone have/had one in his life at all?

Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, abortion will always be a very delicate subject that can bring a lot of pain to women who have gone through with it. The intent of this movie should have been to help the audience get a grasp of the issues and follow the characters on their voyage through varying levels of regret and uncertainty. Unfortunately, the story, characters, dialogue, acting, and message were so awful that it felt like I was watching a Chick tract. I half expected the Old Man to rip off his face at the end to reveal his true demonic visage. The way the characters act and express themselves feels like this was ghostwritten by Jack Chick. Instead of getting to know the characters, evolving with them, and learning a moral lesson through them, I felt like I was having propaganda shoved in my face in the most typical way possible. I already know abortion is wrong, so freaking stop it. Regardless of which side you take in the abortion debate, you’re going to be hard-pressed to find even a shred of quality in this trash.

The Life Zone is a thoroughly miserable experience that I can only ever describe as Ken del Vecchio’s attempt at self-fellatio. It is an insult to both the abortion debate and not just the technical craft of storytelling and character development, but the art of cinema itself. It is not only not a good movie, but it is also a wasted opportunity. The premise is actually a pretty fascinating one. It’s an interesting twist on the formula of modern horror. Instead of going the Saw route and making the villain[s] kidnap the heroes and making them hurt themselves or kill each other, these women are being held against their will but are being kept in good health until the occurrence of something that happens naturally: birth. Jigsaw could never come up with something as ingenious and scary as subverting these women’s free will in such a way. But of course, Ken del Vecchio was so blind to this premise’s potential that he didn’t even stop to consider just how scary of a movie this could have been. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if sometime in the near future, some radical pro-choice filmmaker comes along and actually decides to use this premise to its fullest extent. This would be a fantastic opportunity to not only create an original horror movie, but also insert some blistering sociopolitical commentary about abortion. I sure wouldn’t like the movie, and the commentary would make it a very uncomfortable watch from my perspective, but this premise could be the next Get Out. This premise has the opportunity to do for the abortion debate what Get Out did for race relations.

I am steadfastly pro-life, and I’m never not going to be pro-life. But even someone as pro-life as I can recognize a very badly crafted argument. The Life Zone is a terribly crafted argument, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a bunch of people all over the Internet have written long-winded rebuttals to it.

And the scariest part of The Life Zone is that there really exists a blessedly rare breed of Christian that actually believes that lessons like the ones in The Life Zone must be taught this way, that fellow Christians need to scare people into believing like they do by fearmongering and screaming blood and damnation and hellfire. And we wonder why the radical Left lumps us together with the Westboro Baptists and the FLDS church and the religious Right of the ‘80s and ‘90s that believed that violent video games could make you the next school shooter and that playing Dungeons and Dragons was consorting with the Devil and playing Pokemon was practicing witchcraft and that horror movies could make you into the next serial killer. It’s because people like Ken del Vecchio keep coming out with crap like this. An adequate hellish punishment would be for them to be forced to watch this movie over and over and over again for eternity.

Yes, I know. Abortion is one of the greatest evils ever devised. But putting out crap like this isn’t changing anyone’s viewpoints anytime soon. There’s a right way and a wrong way to convince people of their wrongdoing. But The Life Zone is most certainly the exact wrong way.

Oh, and by the way, there actually is a sort-of sequel.

I’ll be looking at that one next.

Final Verdict: 0 out of 5 stars.

For an example of content from the opposite end of the political spectrum, there’s this eight-minute Planned Parenthood propaganda cartoon that came out eleven years ago titled “A Superhero for Choice” that you can find on YouTube. Its animation is garish and horrible and was obviously made in Microsoft Paint. It features a black superheroine named Dianysus (it’s a pun of the name of the Greek god Dionysus, as the chick’s secret identity is a woman named Diane) going around “educating” people about safe sex while demonizing and punishing her opponents. For example, there’s a sleazy-looking guy talking to some kids, saying that in order to not get pregnant, you need to practice abstinence. You know, something rational and realistic and moral. When the kids bring up safe sex via condoms and birth control pills, the guy says that those are instruments of the Devil. Dianysus shows up, fills a trash can with water, throws the guy in, and puts the lid on and holds it down. She seriously drowns him. Later, there is a group of pro-lifers protesting outside of an abortion clinic. Want to know how “A Superhero for Choice” represents them? Zombies and a few old farts carrying signs calling for them to repent of their sins. They get a little unruly, so Dianysus pulls some sort of gun from out of her utility belt and shoots them with something that envelopes them in giant condoms that explode, making them disappear. Good lord. After that, Dianysus flies to Washington, DC, and after seeing a helicopter drop a massive condom over the Washington Monument, she comes across an old guy in a blue suit she calls “The Senator”. He’s got a big cauldron of boiling green liquid, which he has dropped the Bill of Rights and Constitution into. She confronts him, and after he shows behavior much like a lawless, narcissistic mobster and drops Roe v Wade into the pot, Dianysus picks up the Senator, shoves him into the pot, and stirs him around. She pulls the now-naked Senator out of the pot, where he says he has been cleansed of his conservatism. She literally just forcibly changed his mind. After stopping in Ethiopia – where apparently Planned Parenthood has set up shop – and doing some more posturing, the cartoon ends on a cliffhanger as she heads off to go beat up Jerry Falwell. And they have the gall to claim that they’re tolerant. The video is so focused on making Planned Parenthood’s opponents look like horrible people that they forgot to give us a reason to support Planned Parenthood. I actually discovered this video about a year or two after it came out. I showed it to my brother, and we thought it was freaking ridiculous. We even showed my dad, and he hated it even more than I did. I even heard him talking about it on the phone with my mom later that evening. That little cartoon was posted on the Planned Parenthood Golden Gate website, but it was so hated that they took it down. But once something’s on the Internet, it’s there FOREVER. Check it out for the ultimate “WTF?” experience.