Thursday, October 11, 2007

Tower of Evil

This right here is a perfect example of a film that shows a great deal of promise early on and then just falls to pieces halfway through. The entire first act is great, and then everything just goes to hell, and not the kind of hell that you would generally like a horror movie to go to, either. Very, very disappointing.

We start on the kind of beautifully ominous foggy island that the British have perfected, as a group of fishermen arrive at a lighthouse for reasons unknown and quickly uncover a group of nude murdered teens and an equally nude survivor that’s been driven so mad by the horror of her experiences that she attacks the fishermen, killing one before she’s subdued. All of this is handled very well, with the right amount of English creepiness and some absolutely brilliant set design. There is simply no way you could stumble across a place like this and not instantly think “This was the scene of a number of murders”, even without the nude corpses there to help.

Where the film begins to fall apart, however, is when a second group goes to the island to try to figure out just what the hell happened to the kids that had been killed. There are some key problems when this group begins to take center stage, the biggest of which is how, when the killer is finally revealed, the mundanity of it all just completely destroys the mood. It’s simply not a big enough danger to make the girl being driven mad at all believable, like if you were reading a creepy story about a series of murders taking place on a street in Paris, and then you discover it was just a damned ape killing people. Lame.

This is made worse by how talky the film is in the middle. While Hammer studios could get away with lots of talking in the middle of one of their horror films (they usually didn’t, but they could get away with it when they did) because they generally had a great actor like Peter Cushing or Christopher Lee moving things along, none of the actors here is really talented enough to make up for the film’s lack of forward momentum. While there are some good elements to the film, such as in how every single female character is perfectly okay with getting naked, or the rather brilliant exchange before they leave, when they start discussing the ancient god Ba’al (one of the characters casually says “Strange…If you were to worship Ba’al today, you would be accused of devil worship”, at which point the music goes berserk and everyone in the room starts giving each other Meaningful Glances), it’s simply not enough to make this film work.

Rating: * ½

No comments: