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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Long Time Dead

Last week's slasher flick was Austrian; this week, we have one from Great Britain. Is it bloody, or just bloody awful? Let's find out! Oh, and....blah blah blah, `blah blah blah blah.

As I said, it's British, so of course, the story begins in Morocco. And it's 1979, so how am I even reviewing this on the Internet? I'm 8 years old, fer cryin' out loud! Oh wait, this is only happening in the movie? Okay, then my future self should be okay. Wait, who is that grim-looking guy asking people if they know some chick named "Sarah Connor"? Hmmm....

Anyway, back to the film...There are a lot of people chanting, and they're all sitting on the floor in front of a Ouija board. All of a sudden, the camera goes into "Sam Raimi" mode, zipping and zooming around the room and its occupants. Oh, and there's some kind of locket or medallion that is getting a lot of screen time, so it must be important. Okay, somebody remember the locket for me, in case we need to reference it later!

As these goofballs continue chanting and swaying, we keep seeing a guy who looks like Tommy Chong, if Tommy Chong were dragged behind a pickup truck for about a week. Then we see a rather clean-cut dude(Among hippies? Yeah....), and then the title comes up. Wow, that whole sequence explained everything!

Then we rush to the present day, where 3 guys are getting stoned together in a drab-looking apartment. One of them, Rob, suddenly springs into action, and announces that they should go out for the night. One of his friends laughs as he checks himself out in a mirror, and declares that Rob is as vain as somebody named Stella. Uh, if you say so, Nameless Friend # 1. Oh, and the other friend is played by Lukas Haas, all grown up from his role in the movie Witness. Cool.

We don't get the names of Rob's friends yet, but we do get to meet Stella. She's a pretty cute blond, and she takes college very seriously, unlike the 3 potheads she barely has the patience for. There's some sarcastic banter, which ends when Rob tells one of his buddies that his aunt has a nice ass. The friend, named Liam, somehow took offense to hearing about his aunt's sweet ass(Gosh, that's a real shocker, huh?), and there's a short scuffle.

It's mostly just horseplay, so the 3 friends leave Stella rummaging in the fridge, while they go to a club. We still don't know the name of the dude played by Lukas Haas, so we get introduced to another character instead. That makes sense. Her name is Lucy, and she's Stella's equally cute friend. Sweet! At least if this gets dull, I can just shut off my brain and admire the attractive cast...

Lucy is at the club already, and as she dials Stella's number, another entity(possibly the same one that was flying around in the first scene) shows up and whooshes around behind her. She senses it, but doesn't actually see anything. When she gets Stella to agree to show up at the club, Lucy disconnects. Then Stella hears an object break in another room in the apartment building. She decides to investigate, and we get a cheap jump-scare involving a long-haired guy named Joe. He claims to be a new roommate of the other guys, but she seems suspicious.

After Stella changes her outfit, she and Joe have an unpleasant encounter with the landlord. He looks like a Crazy Ralph-esque old coot, which could be fun. More slasher flicks need crazy old coots in them, to keep the pace up. Let's try to pass that as a law, people!

The old man mentions that some of the wiring in the building seems faulty, and that he might need to enter their unit to examine it. When Stella seems alarmed by the thought, the landlord makes a creepy joke about not reading her diary. Yeah, but I'll bet he tries on some of her clothing. In any event, Stella and Joe quickly get as far from him as they can,

The club they arrive at is the usual generic techno-filled joint, crammed with extras trying to pretend they can dance to the bland music. We meet yet another character, named Spencer, and he seems to be competing with Joe to be The Coolest Guy In The Group. Oh, and I finally decided to give up, and just look up the name of the other character. He's "Webster", which just seems like the unlikeliest name ever for the guy. Why not just name him Floopy-Doo, if you're going to insist on the uncommon name route? Oh, and another anonymous-but-cute female has joined the group, and at least one other male, I think.

This is gonna be one of those movies.....

Anyway, there's a Hee Haw-style montage, wherein we see all of the characters doing goofy crap in between shots of the dancers. We see people having sex in semi-public areas, snorting coke off of a railroad track, that sort of "extreme" crap. And the music is getting on my nerves.

The incident with the drugs on the railroad track somehow leads into a discussion of what provides the "biggest buzz". they suggest mostly sex-related stuff, such as sex in public, sex with someone you love, etc. But then the last anonymous guy(I think... this group is getting big!), Spencer, says that nothing was better than the buzz after he used a Ouija board. Uh oh....I wonder what's going to happen next?

Well, they don't have a Ouija board. Geez, just go to the closest toy store and buy one...Parker Brothers makes a zillion of them! But no, they decide that they should "make" one. Even after Lucy says something about how she heard that you shouldn't use a Ouija board when you're intoxicated or high. If that were the case, no one would EVER use one!

Anyway, their version of "making" a Ouija board is just plain goofy as all Hell. They cut up little squares of paper, on which they write the letters of the alphabet, and place them in a circular pattern, like a clock. Then they put a drinking glass in the center of the circle, to use as a pointer. I don't see any separate pieces of paper for "Yes", "No", "Hello" or "Goodbye", so I guess the spirits better be prepared to enter a spelling bee with this group. No, wait, I take that back...I saw yes/no papers.

Before they begin, some ground rules are laid out: they're each allowed to only place 1 finger on the glass; they can't "force" the glass or push it; and they must, at all times, keep their fingers on the glass, or else the spirit will be unable to return to The Other Side. Everyone got those memorized?

They get the session going, and Lucy takes charge. She asks if there are any spirits nearby, and if they have any messages for the group. For about a minute, nothing happens. Then, just as they seem ready to give up, the glass shoots forward, and a message begins to take shape...

The spirit seems to spell something in gibberish, and they all let out a nervous laugh. Then the glass moves again, faster, and spells out "all die", several times in a row. Whoops! Anonymous Girl gets upset, so Lucy attempts to regain control of the situation by asking the spirit who it is. It spells "Djinn" over and over, until Liam suddenly has visions of the group from the first scene.

Liam gets upset and runs away, breaking the rule about touching the glass at all times during the session. They all seem shocked at first, then some of them start laughing. They decide to see if Liam is okay, and none of them realize that they left Webster's video camera running in the room when they leave.

The anonymous girl turns out to be Liam's girlfriend. She finds him outside, getting some fresh air, and he gives her a ring. She must have asthma, because Liam asks her where her inhaler is, and she figures that she must have dropped it when the group ended their session with the spirit world. She promises to hurry back to him, then goes back inside.

In the room, things look a lot darker. She stumbles around while searching for her inhaler, then finds it in a dark corner of the room. A noise frightens her, then another one nearby, causing her to start yelling that it isn't funny. She runs and runs, eventually winding up on the roof, and tries to climb up a ramped part of the roof made of glass. When she sees a group of people that are dancing, she screams for help, but then plummets toward them when the glass breaks beneath her. She falls to her death, and the partiers stare in shock at her bloody corpse.

The police are called to the nightclub, and our main group ride home in a tension-filled, silent VW bus. The creepy landlord is sitting in front of the apartment building when they return, and he and Liam exchange mean glares. Then Spencer tells Lucy that he needs to see his drug dealer, to get something to calm him down. He begs her to go with him, but she just walks away after looking disgusted with him. He tells her that he'll be back in ten minutes.

The rest of the group more or less head to their rooms, or find places to be alone. That's always a great idea in a horror film! Lucy hears someone/something whisper her name, and heads back inside to do some research on the events that transpired that evening. She finds a book that informs her that Djinn, or genies, are demons made of fire that can easily possess humans if they are summoned by those not trained to control them, like shamen. The best way to exorcise a Djinn after such a possession, is to "banish" it, through some probably-obscure ritual. Awesome.

Lucy decides to make some tea, and a spout of flame shoots out of the burner that she turns on. Is it the Djinn? As Lucy slowly backs away from the oven, she suddenly hears something thumping around outside. She calls out to Spencer, but there's no reply except more thumping noises. She seems to hear it getting closer and closer, then Lucy hears her boyfriend calling her name.

She rushes outside, and finds Spencer and a strange man there. The stranger tells her that he's an electrician(second time we're hearing about electrical it some kind of clue?), and Spencer gives Lucy a hug of reassurance. They decide to get off of the boat for the night, and join the rest of their friends at the apartment. How the heck do college kids afford a boat to live on?

Anyway, they head to the apartment, and everyone else is already there. There's a discussion going on over how the anonymous girl died, and it turns out her name was Annie. Hey, better late than never, I guess. In addition to the glass and the bones broken when she fell, Annie supposedly also had scorch marks on her body. Was the Djinn copping a feel?

Lucy gets nervous talking about the death of their friend, and mentions that she thinks the Djinn has been with her throughout the evening. She mentions the research that she did, and puts out the theory that one of them has now been taken over by the Djinn. She believes that it may try to kill them all, so that it can remain in a human host with no fear of being banished.

They return to the nightclub warehouse, to let Webster retrieve his camera. Hey, d'ya think there might be something scary on the footage? Nah, I doubt it. It's probably just a wedding video or something. All righty....roll that beautiful bean footage!

They watch themselves sitting down to start the Ouija session. When they see the part where Liam freaked out and left, they wonder what made him react like that. Right on cue, the power goes out, and they all start to get scared. The guys explain that the fuses blow all the time, then Webster and Spencer decide to visit the landlord, Old Man Becker. Anyone else getting a "Scooby-Doo" vibe here?

Anyway, the 2 guys knock on his door, but there's no answer. Spencer finds an open window, but insists that Webster should enter the landlord's place, because he doesn't want to get in trouble with either the police or Lucy. Sure, but it's okay to let the kid from Witness get into potential trouble. Makes perfect sense.

Webster, not being the sharpest stick in the woodpile, goes along with this non-logic, and enters Becker's(that's the landlord's name, by the way) apartment to have a look around. He uses the world's dimmest flashlight to look around with, and nearly wets his pants when he crashes into something. After some more exploration, Webster jumps out of his skin when he finds Spencer in the dark with him. After all the crap about not wanting to get into trouble, it turns out that Spencer was getting too scared outside by himself. Sheesh.

They hear a noise, and realize that it's probably Becker coming home. The 2 guys duck under a nearby table, just as the front door starts to open. Becker comes in(we don't see his face, but it's probably him), fiddles around with some things, then leaves again. After he closes the door and locks it again, they wait a few seconds for him to really be gone. Then they leap back to their feet, and Spencer stupidly flips on the lights...revealing that the apartment is literally covered in various notes, newspaper clippings, and other bits of scrap, all pertaining to the Djinn. Uh oh!

The 2 guys rush back to their friends, and tell them to come and see the place for themselves. Becker seemed obsessed with the Djinn and Ouija boards, and seemingly had every possible bit of information about the ritual that took place in 1979...oh, and a human skull or 2, just for feng shui, I suppose. Of particular interest to the group, is an article about a couple from that hippie group who had a child...a boy named Liam. DUN DUN DUNNNNNNN!!!!!!

Yup, that's why Liam is having those weird flashbacks, I guess. Then we see Liam driving, when another flashback hits him, and he begins swerving the VW bus around on the road. He just barely manages to pull off the road safely, and covers his face with his hands.

They group leave Becker's apartment and call the police. Liam wakes up in his car and continues home, and the cops pore through Becker's apartment, trying to figure out what his master plan was supposed to be. Reunited with Liam, the group sit down to breakfast, and try to figure out what exactly is happening to them. Liam, having missed everything that happened the previous night, demands an explanation about the police presence in Becker's place.

Well, it turns out that Liam thought that both of his parents were dead, and that he knew nothing about the events of 1979. In fact, he has to find out from his friends that his father has been living for years in an insane asylum. Understandably freaked out by all of these new tidbits(plus, the fact that the landlord had been obsessed with the 1979 incident), Liam storms off. Oh, and Joe is being kind of a dick in the scene, making life miserable for the group by doing and saying stuff meant to antagonize everyone. Nice guy.

Liam finds a lonely hallway where he can sulk and brood. At the same time, Stella announces that she needs to get away...and goes to the bathroom. Okay...No sooner does Stella get her stall door locked, when a loud noise startles her. She starts to cry, but a larger girl in the next stall reassures her that it's okay.

Calmed down somewhat, Stella exits the stall and washes up at one of the sinks, only to be dragged back into the stall by the invisible Djinn. We see her feet leave the ground, then her shoes getting drenched in her own blood. The girl in the next stall sees the blood, checks on Stella, and finds her bloody, mangled corpse. Naturally, the girl screams.

Lucy tries to do some research on the Djinn back on the boat, but Becker shows up from out of nowhere. He tells her that his intentions are good, but she obviously doesn't buy that after everything that has transpired. Still, Becker insists that she and her friends need to perform a spell or ritual to banish the Djinn, and that Liam was the cause of it being summoned in the first place. When Lucy still refuses to listen, Becker tells her that she and her friends will all be dead soon.

Then we catch up with Liam again. He's done a little digging, and discovered the facility that his father is residing in is called Pernhill. The man in charge tells Liam that his father has never allowed a visitor to speak with him in at least a decade, so Liam writes the word "DJINN" on a piece of paper, and asks that it be delivered to his father.

Yup, that did the trick. They face each through a window, and communicate with phones, just like any prison. Liam quickly loses his cool, accusing his father of sending Becker to kill him and his friends. As Liam is dragged away shouting and kicking, his dad seems genuinely shocked by the accusation.

That evening Webster and Joe hatch The Dumbest Plan Ever(at least, until I watch next week's movie), and decide to break back into their apartment. Of course, the entire building is a crime scene, and there's a cop outside watching the place, but like I said, it's The Dumbest Plan Ever. The reason for taking such a risk? Because Webster wants to grab the videotape he made of the Ouija board session, and see if any weird stuff happened during the recording.

Of course, as soon as they grab the video, Webster tells Joe that he wants to watch it there, to satisfy his curiosity immediately. It's a stupid idea, and Joe even tells hims so, but Webster refuses to be logical. This would only ever happen in a movie...nobody in real life would be so dumb.

Joe announces that he's going to explore the kitchen for a match or a lighter, so he can have a quick cigarette, but it's really just a dumb way to get them in different rooms. While Joe looks for a match, Webster watches the video with a pretty intense stare. Webster sees something that shocks and horrifies him on the video, and yells over to Joe that he needs to see it. Joe has problems of his own, though, as the Djinn is busy shortening his lifespan.

Webster finally gets tired of waiting, and decides to see why Joe hasn't replied to him yet. He doesn't find Joe, but flipping on a light reveals that Webster is standing in a fresh pool of blood. To make matters worse, he can't get the door open, and the Djinn is coming after him next! *GULP*

Webster runs upstairs to hide, which seems kind of pointless, since the Djinn is invisible, and could be standing beside him the entire time without him even realizing it. Oh, and there's a neat sequence where we see the building from outside, with 3 windows lit up. As Webster is trying to find a place to hide on the second floor, the lights from the other rooms are seen flickering off, one by one. Pretty creepy.

Webster finally decides to hide under a bed, and wait out the Djinn. As he does so, Joe's corpse is unceremoniously dropped onto the floor next to his hiding spot. Webster waits a minute or so, then emerges from underneath the bed to try to make his escape. He gets as far as the locked front door, where the Djinn finds him, and bashes his head into the door, killing him instantly.

Back on the boat, Lucy is told by Rob and Spencer that Stella has been killed. Lucy decides to perform the banishing spell, so they all travel back to the warehouse where they originally summoned the demon. Please God, no more techno music! No music, but as they attempt to summon the Djinn to their location, it lights their Ouija board on fire.

They all take off in different directions, and Spencer fumbles around in a blind panic as he looks for a place to hide. He accidentally causes a metal bar to crash onto the floor, and the Djinn begins flying to his location. Spencer hides in some kind of locker, and sees a blur fly past him. Then, as he relaxes, Rob pops up in front of the locker, and he suddenly has slitted, reptilian eyes. He zooms around the locker, and proceeds to break apart the back of the container, then grabbing and yanking on Spencer's head. He snaps the young man's neck, then shoves him to the ground.

Liam and Old Man Becker arrive on the scene to help any survivors, and Becker has a gas can in one hand. As Liam explores the place room by room, Rob pops up and exclaims that the Djinn is actually Becker, but Becker slams into him from behind, then douses him with the gasoline. Before he can set Rob on fire, Liam attacks the landlord and knocks him out cold.

As Becker is lying on the floor, it looks like Rob says to him, "We'll always have Morocco," which would imply that the Djinn is inside Rob. Becker then wakes up and tries to choke him, but Rob delivers several fatal strikes to the man's skull, claiming that he acted without thinking.

Rob and Liam start to leave, and it starts to look like Rob is going to kill Liam from behind. But then they both get distracted by the realization that Lucy hasn't been seen in a while, but might still be alive. Thus begins Star Trek 23: The Search For Lucy.

As he's looking around, Liam sees something in the elevator shaft. Getting the door open, he realizes that it's Lucy, who has a noose around her neck. Liam cuts her down and tries to revive poor Lucy, but she's a goner. Then he faces Rob, who has the Djinn eyes in their full glory.

Grief-stricken, Liam tries to stab Rob, but only succeeds in slicing a deep wound into the possessed man's hand. Instead of blood, flames shoot out of the wound, and Rob retaliates by delivering a few painful injuries to Liam with his now-superhuman strength. He pulls Liam's head back and takes pleasure in the pain it causes.

The Djinn reveals that, ever since the summoning, he has been inside Rob's body, using him like a puppet to kill everyone who was involved in the ritual. He also informs Liam that he's been in a tortured state for a very long time, and plans to let Liam experience that torture in retaliation for his father trying to banish him in the first place.

While the Djinn is taunting him, Liam has another flashback, and sees the Djinn getting defeated by being set on fire. Liam snatches up a lantern, and dangles it in front of his possessed friend. When the Djinn realizes that he's soaked in gas, he pretends to leave Rob's body, and feigns not remembering what happened.

Liam doesn't buy the ruse for a second, and flings the lamp at the Djinn. He goes up like a fireworks display on July 4th, and Liam kicks him down the elevator shaft. Of course, this being a horror movie, Liam is compelled to look into the shaft. Would it really shock you if I told you that Rob popped up as he did, and Liam had to push him in again? Of course not! The killer never dies on the first try! Heck, there's even another burst of flame after that, just for good measure.

In the last scene of the film, Liam visits his father at the asylum. He goes in for a hug, only to reveal that he's now the Djinn. He crushes the old man in a deadly embrace, then the camera pulls back to reveal that the Djinn killed several staff members on the way in. The final image is a rapid zoom on the demonic eyes of the Djinn. THE END

Well, it wasn't much on complexity or character development, but Long Time Dead certainly delivered some suspenseful setpieces. In particular, I enjoyed the evening chase sequence in the apartment, and the bizarre toilet murder. Not the best movie, but far from the worst I've seen since starting to do this. I'll give it 3.5 killer trees out of 5, as I found it to be above average.

And what did Long Time Dead teach me?

-You don't even need a Ouija board to make a horror film about Ouija boards. I miss you, Witchboard movie franchise.

-British chicks are mostly cute and perky, and I need to find one in the near future to fall in love with, before she gets killed in some freak accident involving demonic summoning rituals.

-England is in constant need of electricians and repairmen. Sounds pretty chaotic there.

My next movie is called Perkins' 14. Strange title, but we'll see how it turns out. See you then!