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Friday, September 3, 2010

Five Across the Eyes

Remember your high school's senior class play? I do, it was Sweet Charity. The one the year before was Guys and Dolls. For the five chicks in this film, it was Five Across the Eyes. SPOILERS TIME!!!!

This is seriously low-budget, even by slasher-flick standards. It looks like the whole thing was shot on camcorders, or possibly even a call phone camera. We're talking pretty godawful grainy images here. Oh, and despite the attempt to make it look like they were just taping the proceedings themselves(I guess...I can't think of any other reason to film it the way they did it), the angle keeps changing to another camera, breaking the illusion completely. Look at The Last Exorcism or The Blair Witch Project, for example: part of the reason those movies work so well is that they don't break the convention that it was all shot by them. Same deal with Quarantine and REC. But here, the lousy-to-begin-with picture keeps switching to another hard-to-see angle of another character every few seconds. Geez.

Oh, and the title itself is given very little relevance. It's supposed to refer to the fact that "the locals" call the area they drive through The Eyes, but it really has no impact on anything at all. They could have called it 5 Whiny Hosebags Who Do Dumb Stuff In A Van, and it would change nothing in the story at all.

We get 5 girls, all on a trip home after some kind of sporting event. The driver, Bella, has a learner's permit, and is freaking out because they took a back road home and are hopelessly lost. The other girls are Stephanie, Melanie, Caroline and Jamie. Whatever, they're all interchangeable and generic. And lost.

The road seems to end at a small convenience store/gas station, so the girls decide to ask for directions. When Bella, Caroline, Steph and Jami get back into the van, the other 3 girls convince Bella to pretend to drive off, to scare the last girl, Melanie. For some reason, they all dislike Mel, and enjoy tormenting her. Maybe she's got acting talent. While horsing around, they hit another parked vehicle head-on. Their van has no damage, but the other car has a busted front-end headlight so they leave the scene. Of course.

From here, the film starts sucking donkeys. And that's putting it nicely. They start careening back down the road, and soon spot another car coming up fast behind them...a car with 1 working headlight. Gee, wonder who that could be? Eventually, the girls run out of road, and the other car forces them to stop. A woman holding a gun emerges, and makes them all get out, while ranting and raving about what they "saw" at the store. She refuses to buy their story that they have no clue what she's talking about and demands that they remove their clothes. Wow, it's like my junior prom all over again! Major flashbacks, man!

Anyway, for the most part they strip down to their underwear(only 2-3 of the girls actually do strip, and nothing is shown), and the crazy woman demands that they throw the clothes into a pile and piss on them. Again, it's just like my junior prom. Then, in a bizarre moment, the woman checks her watch, mumbles about being late to pick up someone, and just gets back in her car and leaves. Uh, think they'll stay in touch? More importantly, where's my orgy scene???

Sobbing and generally overacting the shit outta this scene, the girls get dressed again in their piss-drenched clothes and get back in the car. At first they freak out when they realize the woman took the car key, but they remember having a spare. Yay. They start the car and high-tail it out of there. A few feet down the road, they see the woman's car, parked. Bella puts the petal to the metal, and tries to just scoot on by, but the car follows her. (Bored yet? I was!)

Bella tries going faster, but the other vehicle keeps up with them. They hatch a brilliant plan: they will open the door, and start pelting the other car with whatever objects they can scrounge up to hit the car with. They throw crowbars, wrenches, textbooks from the Drama 101 course they all flunked, the script--you name it, they throw it. One girl even takes a dump and throws her own feces at the windshield of CrazyBitch's car. Remind me not to shake HER hand!

Stephanie, the girl who is sitting up front with Bella, starts getting nauseous over the smell of shit in the car. Being complete ditzes devoid of human intelligence, none of these girls can figure out how to crack open a window, so instead they find some hand-wipes. The girl who threw the feces cleans off her hands, but then gives the dirty wipes to Steph, who does indeed vomit. Nice.

This is only 28 minutes into this waste of time, by the way. They should send this piece-of-crap movie to Guantanamo Bay as a torture device. (Wait, is this thing still on? Oh. Damn.) Well, Bella hits a bump or something, because Steph's hands go flying, sending the vomit all over her shirt and the passenger-side window and door. The reason Bella had to stop so suddenly? There's a bunch of debris from a downed tree in the road. Scurrying as fast as the legs of a Nitwit Squad can scurry, the girls get out and start clearing the road, while Steph removes her shirt, washes off her door and hands, and puts on another shirt. Well, at least they can dress themselves, so their pea-brains aren't a TOTAL loss. Maybe they can find work over at FOX News.

This distraction gives CrazyBitch time to catch up to them, of course. She starts trying to ram their van with her car, sending them all back into it to try to take off. They swerve, they turn, they do doughnuts...really exciting stuff. If you're Amish and have never seen a movie car-chase before. Oh, and they start to run out of gas, as a warning light helpfully informs them. At this point, I'm sorta hoping the car turns out to be sentient, and kills them while they're trapped in it. THAT would be a fun movie.

They hit CrazyBitch in the road, possibly killing her. Oh, and there's a great part where they spill Bella's dad's ashes inside the car during all the careening the van does. She even mentions that she's covered in him. Great stuff. Anyway, now that Bella has introduced her dad to all of her friends, they debate whether or not to go back. Bella wants to, to make sure she's dead, but is also upset that she possibly just killed someone(2 someone's actually Bella: My inner child hung himself about 10 minutes ago. Bitch!). As they all disembark to see if they can spot CrazyBitch's CrazyCorpse, they realize that her headlight went out. Believing that she might have returned to her car to hunt them down, the girls decide to push the van off the road to conceal it. They then waste more time concealing the van with the same branches and shit they just took off the road, and sit in the darkened van, waiting to see if CrazyBitch shows up.

While sitting in the dark and waiting, they talk about what to do next. Um, give up on your dreams of stardom to become waitresses? No? Ah well, I tried. They help Bella clean up her dad(lol), and see the CrazyBitchMobile drive right past them without stopping. Yay! Anyway, they discover that Bella's dad was made out of concrete, which is kind of cool. Maybe he was a superhero! Oh, and the movie has only been on for 36 minutes by now. If I don't make it out alive, somebody needs to warn the world about this movie. Don't let my suffering be in vain!!!!

Eh, Bella's whining again. "Oh, why me? I took a shortcut! I killed my mom's van! I found out my dad was replaced with new Folger's Crystals! Why does everything bad happen to me???" Blecch. Hey Bella, here's a razor and a full bottle of pills. I'll just wait over here for about 10 minutes or so, while you make the world a better place, mmm-kay?

Bella then decides that if they're all going to die out there(please, oh PLEASE YESSSS) that she wants to confess to one of the other girls(Melanie, maybe? I'm barely paying attention anymore) all the ways she's mistreated her. If these girls could act, and be in a real movie, I bet this scene would be really emotional and deep. Oh well. Oh, and during this scene, another girl whips out a cell phone, presumably to see if her agent found a way for her to get out of the movie. No go. Shit, if you had a cell phone the ENTIRE TIME, why the frickenfrack didn't you use it EARLIER???

They discuss the genius-level idea of going outside to see if they can find a place to get a signal for the phone(twice, actually), and the CrazyBitchMobile slooooowly pulls up. The five girls decide to run away into the dark woods, and CB chases after them. The entire time, the camera stays in the car. We see them running into the woods, we see her go, then we just sit there in the backseat of the car, asking "Are we there yet?" There's a muffled gunshot, a scream, and Jamie(I guess, I've only been paying attention sporadically since this abortion of a movie started) runs back into the van to hide. While she finds band aids to cover up some bloody scratches, there's a second gunshot. Jamie finds dead daddy's urn, and pours dad's concrete ashes out of it. She then siphons some gas out of the CrazyBitchMobile(I wonder if CrazyBitch and Robin ever yell out "To the CrazyBitchCave!" when they end their nightly patrol of Gotham City?) and pours in into the urn. Ooh, I think somebody has a plaaaan.....

Yup. She uses the gas from the other car to refill Bella's, and pulls up next to the other car, to steal more gas. But she hears CrazyBitch coming back and has to hide, so she quickly ducks into the backseat. She hears one of her friends, Caroline, screaming, and CrazyBitch tells Caroline that she has to pay for what she's done. As Jamie watches and listens, she sees a hand(belonging to CrazyBitch) open up a toolbox on the floor of the backseat, and CrazyBitch's hand takes out a wrench, some pliers, Season One of Home Improvement...

Another girl shows up, tries to stop the torture(not mine, though), and is attacked. She gets dragged, kicking and screaming, into the other car. CrazyBitch drives off with her latest victim, and Caroline crawls out of the car, her clothes covered in blood. Bella comes back, sees Caroline on the ground, and tells Jamie to help get her into the van. Jamie tearfully explains that Steph was abducted and that they need to find her. Along the way they pick up Mel, the girl they all had made fun of earlier in the film. She's bleeding quite a bit, and one of the others tries to treat her wounds with a first aid kit. They find a screwdriver shoved up Mel's vagina, and that just reminds me of the nasty bowling pin scene in Gutterballs. Geez, thanks for the reminder, movie.

Anyway, they eventually catch up to the CrazyBitchMobile, and follow it down a side road. They can see Stephanie inside, trying to escape, but lose the car as they drive around in the dark. They start to fight over which direction to turn, they blame each other for the evening's events, and in general just embrace their inner bitchitudes.

Oh, and they also find the car. But now it appears empty. They open up the back of the car, and find at least two OTHER corpses in the back. As they examine them closer, they discover that it's actually an entire family, including a small boy. Being brilliant strategists, the girls decide to let the air out of CrazyBitch's tires. They hear more gunshots, and debate whether Stephanie is even still alive, and the gunshots get closer. This leads to one of the only smiles I cracked: as they yell at each other about abandoning Steph to her fate, one girl says that she probably ran far enough away. Another girl says, "We don't know that!", and the response is, "Well, PRETEND!" LMAO

They all eventually do get back in the vehicle. As they start to drive off, they open a back door and yell out Stephanie's name, hoping that she can hear them and get back to the van. When that plan fails miserably, they turn around to go back. CrazyBitch attacks their car as they pull up to hers, and they manage to slam her into a tree with their vehicle, much like Laurie Strode did with Michael in H20(I should've watched that instead...THAT movie kicks this movie's ass). Bella starts screaming about the blood in her eyes(so why is she the one driving, if she can't see???), Caroline goes into a state of catatonic shock, and Jamie steps out of the car and promptly gets shot. They ram the car again at CrazyBitch, throw some things at her, and drive off.

They try to keep Jamie talking to keep her conscious, but they don't have enough bandages to help her with her wounds. As she bleeds all over the backseat, they find Steph outside wandering, and get her into the van as well. She starts protesting that she doesn't want to go, then freaks out over Jamie's injuries. Whatever CrazyBitch did to her was bad, because she's bleeding so badly that they can't stop it.

One of the girls sees a flash of light and starts to panic that it's the return of CrazyBitch. They can't calm her down, so Bella turns around the van to show them that nothing's there. In the process, they pop a tire. They stop the van to fix the tire, which is the worst idea in the history of the worst ideas. The CrazyBitchMobile returns, and she pulls one of the girls away, dragging her along on the ground as the car takes off. The others pile back into the van and chase them, eventually catching up as CrazyBitch finally lets go of her victim to go after the rest of them.

She butts two of them in the head with the end of her shotgun, she slams one into the sliding door of the van, and she tries to shoot one girl, but is out of bullets. Oh, and one girl(not sure who at this point) has a hand keep popping up at one of the windows, doing the funkiest sign language monologue EVER!

CrazyBitch gets to the bleeding, dying girl in the backseat, and starts crying. She apologizes for what she's done, which was appropriate about 45 minutes earlier. The "dead" girl wakes up and retaliates with an attack of her own. She kicks and punches at the woman, but is hit several times with a hammer. Guess the apology's called off. She grabs Steph's arm, pulls it back behind her and ties it there with a seat belt. She then wraps a section of seat belt around Steph's neck, effectively pinning her down into her seat.

She runs back to her car to grab something. It turns out to be a tackle box, filled with hooks. She grabs a handful of them, forces them into Steph's mouth, then tapes her mouth shut. The whole time she's ranting about obedience and discipline, and following the rules as long as "you're living under MY roof!" I'm sure this film had a fascinating back story; it's a shame the writers didn't bother to share it with the audience. CrazyBitch winds the tape around Steph's head several times, taunts her, then notices the girl with the hand caught in the door. She goes after her next. CrazyBitch gets a battery out of her car, attaches it to their car battery, then tortures the pinned girl by electrocution. She then drags her over to the front of the car, and repeatedly slams the hood down on her body.

Had enough yet? CrazyBitch sure hasn't. She goes after Bella next. Yelling about how young girls shouldn't go after older men, she shoves the rifle up Bella's ass. Seriously movie. WTF??? Remember when slasher flicks used to be goofy and fun? These film-makers sure don't. Anyway, CrazyBitch severs one of Bella's fingers. The other girls use the distraction to get loose from all their traps and grab weapons. As a group, they all whale on CrazyBitch, using crowbars, fists, feet, the script again, whatever they can find to deliver some payback. This all culminates in a screwdriver in her chest, and a series of pretty intense stabbings. Everyone takes a turn at it. Better than Cats.

Then Bella goes back to the front seat and grabs the car's lighter. Another girl pours out the gasoline from the urn onto CrazyBitch, as they remind each other that CrazyBitch murdered a family, and they all watch her burn. While her corpse is consumed in the fire, they quietly shuffle back to the van, and remind each other to wear their seat belts. Ha, ha. Great time to crack a joke, movie. These guys should've written the ending for Schindler's List too.

They drive away, and end up back at the convenience store from the beginning. Going inside, they discover that CrazyBitch had killed everyone inside the store before coming after them, so they decide to get back on the road. As they pull back out onto the street, one of the girls vomits, and Bella scolds her with, "Don't mess up my mom's van." THE END

Geez, this was bad. I mean, it could have been a good film, if we had any kind of character development AT ALL. I mean, who was the woman? What events set her off? Who was her family? Why mutilate a bunch of teenage girls? And why would the girls do most of the stuff they did? If this had been re-written a few more times, I bet you'd have a fairly good "fish out of water"-type thriller, like the movie Emilio Estevez and Dennis Leary did in the '90's, Judgement Night. Same kind of premise, if you think about it. But this thing was just a bunch of action setpieces with little to no setup. Anyway, it sucked, except for a few isolated moments of gallows humor, and the crazy ending. 2 killer trees out of five, just because I'm feeling generous.

So, what has 5 Across the Eyes taught me?
-Torture porn needs to be taken out to the woodshed, and shot.
-A movie needs a script. You can't just take your school's camcorder and start filming for the heck of it.
-5 women constantly dressing and undressing can be a real drag, and not that sexy. Damn.
-A movie can be labelled under the category of slasher flick, and contain only 1 onscreen death. I've seen more kills in Charlie Chaplin's films.

Next up: Probably Bones. I saw the rest of it(FINALLY), and it was better than I expected it to be. Will probably post it later this weekend or early next week, barring any mental anguish today's movie caused me.