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Friday, October 26, 2012

Don't Go In The Woods/Paintball

This week's SAW is a slasher/musical, and it's called Don't Go In The Woods...not to be confused with an early-'80's slasher that had a similar title, but with"...Alone!" added to the end. Will it be music to our ears? Will it be tone-deaf? Well, let's get down to our SPOILER-filled viewing, and find out!

The very first scene shows us those woods, and there's a young woman limping through them, covered in blood. A hand grabs her shoulder, and she screams as the title comes up. There's a brief shot of her gory remains and an axe, then she goes bye-bye. Yup, now we're in flashback territory....Seriously, why do so many movies do this?

We get an extreme closeup of a pair of eyes that are so milky-looking, this guy almost looks like a corpse. There's talk of omens, and something about a place that is apparently so fantastic, "the guys" won't want to leave. Uh-huh.

A song starts up on the radio, about a country singer who fell in love with another man. It's pretty frickin' funny, even after it turns to be a song about loving Jesus. The large group of guys in this particular van start to pass around a bag of weed, but the one driving tosses it out of his window. The others look pretty pissed, even the blind one seated next to the driver(And why would they give a blind guy the seat with the best view?).

Anyway, these guys are out in the woods to write some songs, in anticipation of a recording contract in the near future. Let's meet 'em: First up is Nick, the lead singer, and the jerk who wasted the weed(oh, and he looks like Elijah Wood); Johnny, the token minority character(though he's Asian instead of black, which is pretty novel); Robbie, the blind musician; Anton, the keyboard player(who sort of resembles Louis, the creepy lab-geek on Dexter); Ahhh, they're singing again, hold on...


Okay, new plan. about 80% or so of this monstrosity is sung instead of spoken, so I'm watching watching something more slasher-y instead: a movie called Paintball, that I found under "Free Movies" on the On Demand menu on cable. The other movie was a train wreck, and the narrative would have been near-impossible to describe, given the ratio of songs to spoken dialogue(or even plot...). Plus, every guy in the band(besides the Asian) resembled Frodo after awhile.

Okay, so let's put that ordeal behind us, and watch Paintball together...

THIS STORY begins with a funny advertisement that features a pair of Russians in military garb. The one in front is pitching a paintball wargame business called Redball Woods. The second soldier, a younger female, simply glares at the camera and fidgets. Every time the male lists a feature of the business, the other one nods her head curtly. Finally, when the male soldier fires paint pellets at the camera, the female starts to grin.

Then we meet our main characters, 8 people who have signed up with Redball Woods to play at being survivalists. All have hoods over their heads, until a recorded voice instructs them to remove the hoods. Then the voice assigns each person a role in the team First, there's David, who is assigned to lead the team into battle; Iris, who is assigned to be front infantry; John, a rifleman taking rear infantry; a wide-eyed brunette named Brenda, who is on tactical support; Eric and Anna, who are assigned as recon scouts; Claudia, who looks excited to be a sniper;    and finally, Frank, who slept through the entire recording, is tasked with being a rifleman. Maybe they can tell him when he's done snoozing...

Okay, so they all start the process of gathering up their crap. Right away, this seems pretty shady...they have pellets that have gone past their expiration dates, some of the equipment and armor seems pretty flimsy, stuff like that. The recording tells them that they have one full day to find and capture 6 flags belonging to the team they're going up against. Also, there's a box at each flag that will supposedly contain items they'll need to win.

As they get ready to play, one of the women thinks that she recognizes another one from a game held the previous year. The other woman denies it, which probably means that she's lying. We'll see, but I'm betting that it'll be a plot twist at some point, that she's a pro dropped into the group. Or something like that.

Everyone leaps out of the vehicle, and they find themselves in a grassy clearing, surrounded by a forest. As a group they run for the trees, and lethargic Frank has trouble keeping up. He looks familiar, but I'm not sure why. I think that my brain is probably fried from seeing so many of these movies.

While they wait for Frank to catch up, the others plot their strategy for capturing the first flag by consulting their map. The position is about 20 minutes away, so David orders Anna and Eric to start moving up the trail, and look for any potential threats. He then asks Claudia to protect their progress with cover fire at any potential threats. Iris and John are told to flank on each side of the group, and Frank gets pissed off about everyone being ordered around. David responds that he's the only one with enough experience to correctly plot out the map, and no one disagrees.

They find what could best be described as a "car graveyard"(Whoa! Flashbacks to Wreckage!), and the enemy team fire on them as they explore the various vehicles. The enemy has them pinned down, so one of the women(Brenda, I think, although it's hard to tell, as they all have masks and goggles on) starts to climb into a bus for shelter. Her gun wasn't firing correctly, which is yet another omen that these folks are in for trouble.

Trying to locate the first flag and the first supply box, Claudia is assigned to climb a hill, to see if she can see anything from a higher position. The rest of them look beneath the vehicles, in the trunks, inside the cars...They find nothing. Even Claudia announces that she doesn't see anything helpful.

Frank, who couldn't keep up with the others a few minutes ago, is now standing on the roof of a car and whining about how little action there is. The other team gets him back by firing a ton of pellets at his position. Heh. They seem to be flanked on all sides, so David orders the team to seek shelter on the bus.

In the middle of all of the chaos, David asks if any of them were able to find the flag or the box, and there are negative replies all around. Then, they all realize more bad news: Claudia isn't on the bus. As they talk trash about the other team, a smoke grenade is hurled into the bus. David orders them to stay on the bus, so as not to expose any of them to the sniper(s?) outside.

The other team waits them out for a few seconds, then another projectile is flung through a bus window: The box! It contains a single item, a bulletproof vest. Claudia shows up, and it turns out that it was her who tossed the box into the bus. After everyone congratulates Claudia on her find, David tells them that they need to leave the bus, so as not to get surrounded. Uh, isn't it kind of too late for that?

Anna and Eric go first, scouting the perimeter as they dodge from car to car. They give the "all clear", and Claudia moves to their position next, using her rifle's scope to search for that pesky sniper. Then David joins them, and the rest follow when he gives the signal, either alone or in pairs.

The other team begins another assault, and one of "our" guys gets shot in the foot with real ammunition. Another member of the team is then shot in the head, and they all start running. That's the smartest thing they've done so far...John, who I think was the one shot in the foot, tries to keep up, but he's limping pretty badly.

John is hit again in the leg, and goes down. As he's attempting to crawl to the trees to hide, he begs his team to return and help him out. He manages to get himself standing again, only to step into a trap, a rope that wraps around his ankle and pulls him up into the air, swinging like a pinata.

While he's twirling around, another soldier is spotted crouching next to a tree. It's David, who moves in for a closer look. John is incredibly grateful, until he realizes that David only wants the vest. Wow, nice leadership qualities.

The rest of the team find a large electrified fence preventing them from leaving. They argue back and forth, with opinions divided over whether the shooters are psychos from another team, or if it's the owners of the business hunting them for sport. Apparently, none of them have seen Hostel. Oh, and Brenda has a breakdown, right before a long-dead human body is found.

John shows up then, and the others ask him how he managed to get the vest. He changes the subject, and starts to give out orders again, probably just to distract them. As they plot a course to the next flag, one of them misfires his gun, making everyone jump.

Hey, now we have a night vision sequence! The villain(or one of them, if it's a team), sneaks up on John and throws small round items at him to wake him up. As John begs for his life, the killer finds a large rock, and props a rifle up against it, directly underneath poor John. A bayonet is attached to the rifle, and the killer walks over to the tree the rope's other end is tied around. He cuts the rope, and John's head is sliced apart like a watermelon.

The other members of the team discover the first flag, but no one wants to risk dying to run out in the open and capture it. They decide that it should be David, since he's now wearing the vest. Ha! Before David can do anything, Anna(I think) offers to retrieve the box instead, with the caveat that whatever she finds belongs to her. Without any further discussion, she darts out of the woods to get the box.

Using a nearby tractor for cover, she quickly snatches up her prize and opens it.  Inside the box, she finds a bottle of some sort(which she quickly tosses away), and a machete. Immediately after, she hears a prowler in the trees nearby, and signals for help from her teammates. Run Anna, run!

As everyone starts a-running again, the enemy fires at each of them in a pretty random fashion. In the confusion, a female character is shot, and Anna accidentally uses the machete to kill a woman who was apparently on another team, as another player shows up to scream at Anna in a foreign language. Anyone else as confused as I am here??? The angry guy blows a whistle to  reveal their location, which just seems bad, no matter who he is.

David asks Anna what the second item in the box was, and threatens her with the machete when she doesn't reply. Lucky for her, Eric arrives to stop him. David then declares that they're taking the foreign guy along as a prisoner. As they march through the grass, Frank complains to Brenda  that they should have tied the stranger to a tree and left him for his group to find, as opposed to forcing him to be their hostage.

Eric tries to ask the stranger some basic questions, but he either doesn't understand, or has decided to play dumb. Brenda then asks Frank to hide in the forest with her, until the game ends. Her theory is that everyone will forget about them, allowing them to escape to safety somehow. Now THAT is the plan of a genius....

Brenda then stumbles and falls, bringing everyone over to make sure that she's okay. In the frenzy, the prisoner vanishes as well. Oh, and even though the map indicates that the next flag and box should be in the area, none of them can find anything. They even speculate that the foreign guy may have hidden things before they captured him.

After another disagreement, David decides that they should just make their way to the fourth flag. The march off in a line, but Brenda, who's last, trips yet again. She hears noises all around her and gets scared, so maybe taking off by herself isn't the best plan. The rest of the group gets further away, and Brenda starts to panic.

In the next scene, she's being shot at, and running through the trees. Uhhh, were some key scenes removed here? When did the team lose her entirely? How do they not hear the shooting? Eh, who cares? Brenda gets hit by a stray bullet, and rolls down a slight incline. Her body ain't moving after that. Oops....

Frank is the first to notice that she's missing. He shouts at the others to stop, but they just ignore him at first. As Frank continues to insist that they stop to find Brenda, Eric finally approaches him and asks him to shut up. Iris pipes up, and tells Eric that Frank is right, and that they should work as a team to find her and do a better job of protecting each other.

All of that just gets Frank riled up even more. He yells ahead to David, asking him how he really got his hands on the vest, and why he gets the machete as well. When he adds that the foreign guy is probably nearby, picking them off one by one, David ambushes him from behind a tree. David then pushes Frank to the ground, holds the machete to his throat, and tells him to stop yelling.

After David marches ahead again, Eric and Anna help Frank to stand up. They also resume the hike, but Frank runs off to find Brenda. Iris announces that she's also going solo, if the next flag is missing. Wow, David sure has some effective leadership skills!

The killer, still wearing his night vision goggles, has decided to see if Brenda is dead or not. She wakes up, sees him, and backs away, weeping hysterically as she realizes her predicament. The killer indicates that he took the box everyone was looking for, and he kicks it in her direction. She opens it, and finds an odd-looking gun, which the killer forces her to pick up.

As they face each other, Brenda tells the killer that she doesn't know what kind of gun it is, or even how to load  the thing. She also admits that she only signed up for paintball because her shrink encouraged her to "try new things". Then Brenda turns away from the killer, and anticipates being shot in the back as she slowly creeps away. When that doesn't happen, Brenda discovers the the killer has vanished. She runs into the forest, more frightened than ever.

David, sensing a threat ahead of the team, silently indicates that they should try to surround and ambush whoever it is. Then we return to Brenda. She's leaning up against a massive stone structure, and she searches the perimeter for a hiding place. Amazingly, she finds a door carved into it, and runs inside.

She yells and shouts, then discovers that the many leaves beneath her are camouflaging a floor made out of porcelain or some other smooth, shiny material. Thinking that maybe there's a structure underground, Brenda pounds on the floor and screams for help. Yeah, I'm sure they'll rush right out.

The killer locates her, and stands at the entrance to the cave. When the movie switches to his perspective, we see that Brenda is surrounded by what look like corpses seated on the floor around her, about 4 of them. She sees the killer and backs away, crashing through a door into a second room. The killer shoots her, and she falls forward, her blood spreading out over the floor, which is clear in this room.

Back to the team. The find the foreign guy, and surround him. After shooting him with paint pellets--and Iris whacking him with her helmet, which she loses by the side of the road--they question him again. He has Brenda's armband on him, and he tells them his name, which is Yurick, but that's it. He breaks loose fast enough to punch David in the face, and David retaliates by stabbing  him with the machete. Alas, poor Yurick, we knew you not at all. David stabs him a second time, this time twisting the blade.

After more hiking, they find out that their outfits are possibly "marked", even the vest. That leads to a decision by the women to remove their camouflage tops. If you ever needed a quick definition of the word "gratuitous", this scene would fit the bill. David watches them remove their shirts, and he's getting to be creepier than the killer.

They spot a flag and a black case at the bottom of a hill, and look for signs that it might be a trap. Since David is being such a whiny baby about sharing the vest, the others tell him that he needs to fetch the items himself. The viewpoint changes to night vision, and the killer stands nearby, preparing to execute David. Someone watching the killer's progress orders him via an earpiece to let David live. Damn!

When the case is brought up the hill, they find that it contains random metal tubes and other components, but no one can figure out how they go together. There are 2 boxes left, and 2 flags. They split into 2 teams, in order to get the items quicker: Eric and Anna  are paired up, and David teams up with Iris.

We follow Iris and David first, where we discover that David spells "team" with an "i". He's going at such a brisk pace through the woods, I'm somewhat amazed that he doesn't say, "Meep-meep!" every minute or so. Iris should've just gone with the others. David does finally slow down, and both he and Iris find Frank.

Yup, Frank. Iris asks David to cover her progress as she sees if she can help Frank. Frank tells her to go away because she's walking into a trap, but she keeps coming to him. The ground beneath her foot starts to tilt, but before Iris can back off, asswipe David grabs her by the head and throws her into the hidden pit. Man, I hope his death is painful...perhaps he can be forced to watch this movie about 200 times! It's shown that Frank's arm was somehow caught in a beartrap.

His arm??? Aw, c'mon movie, how does that even make sense? His foot, sure, but he would've had to have been crawling around for that to happen to his arm. Maybe he was following a trail of M&M's, Pac-Man-style.

Some of the creeps monitoring the mayhem comment that David seems to be aware that there are cameras on him at all times. Well, DUH. Gee, do ya think they know they're being hunted too? The villains decide to kill Frank next, with an explosive mine.

Anna looks like she somehow got herself lost, as she spins around, just gawking at each and every tree. Oh okay...she and Eric have found their case, and are just being cautious. Anna points out a camera positioned above them in a tree, and tells Eric that she's seen several more.

Eric opens the case, which contains more paintballs and a flashlight, but Anna observes that the pellets seem to weigh more than a paint pellet should. Eric places one in his gun, but it shatters when he cocks the gun, splashing his face with acid. Anna tries to clean the side of his face and flush the acid with water, but Eric's injury makes The Phantom of The Opera look like Brad Pitt.

Uh oh....more night vision. The killer has found Iris and Frank, but the controllers of the game order the killer to ignore them. He kills the pair anyway, laughing like a maniac when he bashes Frank's skull in. The owner of RedBall tells the others in the viewing area that the killer going rogue merely makes the hunt more interesting. Oh, and the killer is named Dan.

While Dan is on the prowl, so is David. David sits under a wide tree to remove his outer layer of clothing, then carries it over to a large fall tree, where he crouches and plans his next move. Dan finds his position, and sneaks up on him. David leaves his jacket off, but puts his armored vest on over his shirt, and waits for the killer to reveal himself.

Dan takes some potshots at the log, and David grins. Grabbing his stuff, he stands up, and gets shot in the back. Well, either the vest was a fake, or he was shot somewhere that it didn't cover. David goes for his hunting knife, grimaces, then seems to stop breathing. When Dan gets close, David tries to slice him, but the killer stands on his arm.

As David struggles, Dan puts a knife to his throat, but doesn't finish him off. He instead waits for our favorite idiot to remove another shirt and stand up. Now that both men are armed and standing, After David takes a few wild swings at the killer, Dan delivers a slice to his neck, sending up a spray of blood. Then he falls to his knees.

Dan kicks him over onto his side, as David gags on his own blood. Then the killer removes an explosive mine from his backpack, places it under David's vest, and sets it off by stepping on his chest. Then he repeats the process. Methinks that psycho Dan isn't a "people person", under any definition.

That evening, Anna and Eric get back to the rendezvous point, and get worried when there's no sign of David and Iris. Eric's face looks worse, if that's possible.Anna lies to him, saying that it looks better. Eric gets up to pace around, and gets ambushed. Anna screams his name, but there's no response. After a moment of peace and quiet, Anna hears a woman on Dan's radio, asking for his current location.

Anna follows the sound, then tries to ask the voice for assistance. The mysterious woman calls Anna by her name, then tells her to bury herself in the dirt, explaining that Dan has the night vision googles. When Anna scoffs at the suggestion, Mystery Woman explains that the barrel of her rifle can be removed and used as a breathing tube. If Anna lives 'til morning, the voice promises to give her more assistance.

Although she hates the idea, Anna does as the voice instructs her. It works, and the next morning Anna struggles back to the open air. She puts her gun back together, then the woman calls her to bsay that there's a trap directly in front of her. She finds Iris, and the mystery voice tells her to go back to each and every checkpoint, and gather every spare part from those sites. The pieces, when assembled properly, make a gun.

Anna finds David along the way, and removes the vest from his corpse. She puts the vest on and starts to leave, but her guide tells her that there's something next to David that she needs. There's a series of sequences showing Anna finding bodies and revisiting the various box locations. Several times the voice speaks up, alerting Anna whenever Dan is near her.

As she crosses a rickety-looking footbridge, Anna nearly gets shot. She grabs an overhead rope as one side of the bridge collapses, and pulls herself to the other side. She dodges around the trees, but a stray bullet strikes her backpack. Despite her terror and pain, Anna manages to get to her feet. She limps her way to a house, and begs to be let inside.

Anna circles around to the back, unaware of being observed by the people who bet on the game. The glass is tinted black on the windows and is thick enough to almost drown her voice out, even when shouting. She fires paint pellets at the windows to vent her anger, and the voice calmly tells her that there is a door on the other side of the house.

She gets in, and finds herself in a basement/tunnel area. Another black case reveals the last machine piece, as well as a series of forged death certificates assigned to each member of her team. The voice tells her that the killer is close, and suggests that she should stand in front of one of the 2-way mirrors, because he'll confuse her for an audience member if she just stands still and watches him.

Dan decides to start firing at the observers, and Anna takes advantage of his distraction to get on the floor and assemble the gun parts. Then she leaps to her feet, pulls the trigger, and....nothing happens. That one stray bullet must've damaged some of the gun parts, because it's only making a hissing sound now.

Dan pulls his trigger, but he seems to be out of ammo. Excuse me if I giggle loudly now. He draws his hunting knife, and Anna pulls out the machete. Hell yeah! 2 duels in 1 movie! That rocks. While the random shooting is occurring, the female voice reveals to Anna that one of the windows is not bulletproof. It has a red mark drawn near it, so Anna sets about trying to trick Dan into approaching it.

She shows him the fake death certificates, and he looks for his own. Anna rushes at him, pushing Dan through the window. She then climbs into the room again, using a chain that was set into the wall to pull herself up. The RedBall people give Anna her freedom, as long as she promises never to tell anyone about what happened to her. If she breaks that rule, then they'd have to murder her.

Anna removes some of her equipment, and exits the property. A closeup of the death certificate with her name on it reveals that they had planned to make her demise look like a car crash. She finds a car with keys in the ignition, but doesn't take the bait. The final scene  shows Anna on foot, afraid of pursuit. She stops in her tracks, spins around, and screams, "WHAT!?!" into the camera. THE END

Well, it was a better film than Don't Go In The Woods, that's for sure. But while the kills were varied, the characters were way too generic to root for any of them. If you're going to rip off Hostel, then you need to try to be as over-the top and memorable as possible. This just wasn't. 2.5 killer trees out of 5 for some of the concepts and gore. Aw heck, you get an extra point for not singing when being chased by the killer. 3.5 it is.

It's taken a while to watch 2 of  these, so I'm not sure when my next movie arrives. Wait and see.....