Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Crazy Eights

You know, I fully realize the underlying silliness in watching the new set of After Dark horror movies rather than returning to the Tomb of Terrors collection, given that so far they’ve all been of roughly the same quality, though these with higher production values. This does nothing to alleviate that problem with quality control, making this year’s set (at least so far) look like it might be even worse than last year’s. Keep in mind as I say this that last year’s set had Dark Ride and Wicked Little Things, so that is saying something.

Crazy Eights starts with text letting us know that in the 50s-70s, about six hundred children were volunteered for behavioral experiments at isolated facilities in the deep south, and most were never seen again. We then cut to the present day, where a group of six survivors of one such institution meet up at the funeral of their seventh friend. While there, they see a photo of themselves as children, all dressed up for their baseball team that they named the Crazy Eights, even though they were one player short of the full nine needed for a full baseball team. I want you to take a moment, now, and do the math up to this point, and see if you can figure out where this movie is headed. See, their friend’s will asks them all to return to their old institution and get all of their old childhood things together, and once they’re all there, they all start being murdered one by one by some mysterious figure. And yes, in an 80 minute long film, it takes them until the 60 minute mark before they all realize that they’re being stalked by their eighth childhood friend, who is even in the damn baseball photo with them.

Of course, there’s not much in the way of a plot here. What film there is uncomfortably closely resembles the Expedition, which is a strong contender for the worst movie I have ever seen. They get trapped in the asylum, and are left to just wander around it for the rest of the film, every now and then with one of them wandering off alone for seemingly no reason beyond that they need to be isolated so they can be killed. It’s not even like I was able to get behind any of the characters, either. The film just throws all six characters at us all at once, and then spends pretty much no time at all developing any of them. Each of them is given one minor character trait (the nervous one, the one with facial hair, the one that curses a lot, etc.) to distinguish them, and then stops there with the sense of a job well done.

Of all eight of the new After Dark films, this one had the biggest name cast, with the likes of Traci Lords, Gabrielle Anwar, and Dina Meyer, and it’s managed to be probably the weakest of the three I’ve yet seen. If I hadn’t committed myself to watching all of these films one right after another, I’d give up at this point, since they started poorly and have gotten steadily worse. This does not bode well for when the third set comes around next year. At this rate, it’s just going to become a dumping ground for the worst semi-professional horror movies to come out each year. Here’s hoping that there’ll be at least two good films in this set to match last year, but it’s not looking promising so far.

Rating: ½ *

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