February 27, 2011

Review: Chain Letter (2010)

HUGE SPOILERS are contained herein, especially about the ending, so beware!  

Chain Letter is a story about a bunch of mid-20's High School Students who receive a creepy chain letter via text, stating that they have to pass it on to five more people within 24 hours, or they will die.

Sure enough, they scoff at the text and ignore it (but pass it on anyhow), and one by one they start to die in grisly ways... killed by a hulking figure dressed all in black, who seems to be able to sneak around this upscale suburb escaping any and all notice.

Not only that, but he can access homes and Schools at will, abduct people, set up elaborate torture schemes, and slowly kill them... all as if no one else in town is awake through all of this.

"What is this Lemon Party?"
Now, it's odd to me that amidst all of these "teenagers" dying off that we never see much of the Parents getting involved, nor do the Police seem to be all that frenzied to find out what's going on. The town in which the movie takes place is the "multimedia capital of the world" or some such shit, so wouldn't you think at least the Police would be on the cusp of technology? Maybe there are web-cams everywhere that might catch something odd? Or, better yet, would anyone in town use a smart phone, which seem to be conveniently non-existent in the movie?

Nice hat.
Chain Letter sat on the shelf for a few years, so I'm guessing that the filmmakers have no clue that phone and computer technology changes about 50 times over that span of time. The frigging movie is about TECHNOLOGY! How can they get that aspect of things wrong? Nikki Reid (as our Final Girl), takes about a year and a half to figure out that "something just isn't right here," and she's the smartest of the bunch. She deduces that there's something about a cult that hates electronics so much that they feel the need to torture innocent (if not annoying) kids to death to prove their point... which is what? Technology is the Devil?

I'll chain her letter...
This movie is so loose and haphazard that it's hard to even rip on it. The plot meanders and winds in so many different directions, that it never really makes up its mind about what it's supposed to be. We get no answers about much of anything that happens, like who, why, and even how. We never find out who the killer is; sure, we have a creepy teacher, a creepy profiler, and a mongoloid bumpkin that does the killing, but what the hell is going on? What just happened? The script is such a mess that it really makes no sense to talk about the movie and try to understand what went wrong.

Some of the kill scenes were bloody and fun, but really, they were so elaborate and Saw-like that they just seemed ridiculous and out of place. And the genre favorites who star in this movie, like Brad Dourif, Betsy Russell and Keith David? Wasted here on sub-par material. Hell, Bai Ling is supposed to be in this, but she wasn't? Whatever.

Wel felt like this during the movie; alone and cold.
And the ending? The scene that the whole movie seemed to exist to build up to? A joke.

So the hulking "Chain Man" is able to sneak into a house, drag a kid to the garage, chain her up to two cars... that are outside of the garage and facing the street, mind you... without the parents noticing this at all? A town on edge with kids dying left and right, and the parents are oblivious to what's going on in their own home? Before they leave the house, they're watching a news report about the kids being killed, and they don't have any instinct to go check on their own kid? Sure they have no reason to suspect that she's gone, but piece of mind is a Parent's thing, you know? They don't even notice two chains coming from under the not-closed garage, that are attached to their cars? And how clever, they both pull out of the driveway at the same exact time, and go in different directions... fuck it, I'm just stopping here. 

This movie is a sad state of affairs for the Horror genre. It got a Theatrical Release while a movie like Trick r' Treat goes straight to DVD. And yes, I always go back to Tr'T in these cases, because it really is an excellent example of exactly how Hollywood shits the bed with most American Horror releases. Unless your Horror bar is set really, really low, avoid this suck-fest at all possible costs.

At least the eye candy was decent in this one.

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