Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Willies

I’m not really sure what the intended audience for The Willies was, exactly. I would have to assume, from the incredibly juvenile humor and urban legends found within (and by how the film revolves around theoretically elementary school age children) that it’s a horror movie for the young ones. However, they then throw in just enough violence and blood to ensure themselves a PG-13 rating with such things as a woman getting her throat cut and some bloody, dismembered arms, as if they cynically decided that young children would refuse to watch any horror movies that were actually rated as suitable for children. Of course, the point is somewhat academic, as the film is so bad that its actual target audience is idiots that buy tons of cheap movies for review material for their blogs.

Anyway, the film is an anthology that uses the framing device of three kids (Sean Astin and two others that never developed actual careers) out in a tent in the woods telling each other urban legends to try to scare/gross out each other. They start with a few of the more famous ones, like a woman at a fast food place getting a fried rat mixed in with her bucket of chicken, and the haunted house ride that was originally so scary that a man actually died of fright so the operators had to tone it down (a sample of this film’s idea of humor: the ride’s obviously meant to be Disney’s Haunted Mansion, but I guess they couldn’t get the rights to that, so they just made allusions to other rides at the park like “It’s a Wee World” and “The Enchanting Wiki Hut” -- if you just threw up in your mouth a little, that’s only to be expected), before they get to the two main stories.

That’s right, two. While most anthology films go for three to five stories to accompany their wraparounds, this one just gives us two main stories (No, I am not counting the fried rat or the others as separate stories, not when all of them combined are maybe five minutes long), perhaps under the assumption that this would help them dodge the complaint that most anthologies wind up with one story that’s just not as good as all the others. Unfortunately, this just means that the two stories instead go on much longer than is justified, until you can almost feel the padding being added as they panic over having almost blown through the script and still having a lot more time to kill to reach 90 minutes.

Plus, it also still has that very problem I’m casually assuming was the intended reason for the dual stories, in that the second story is much worse than the first (Its also a good deal longer too, which may have something to do with it). The first is lame, but functional, and follows a kid that has to alternate between dealing with bullies and dealing with a horrid teacher (Kathleen Freeman of Gremlins 2 fame). While the school custodian reaches out to him a bit, his fortunes really change when he discovers a monster in the bathroom, which is obviously the custodian there to help the boy out by killing and eating all of his enemies. The second one, about a thoroughly loathsome boy obsessed with flies, rambles on for so long without anything approaching a point to it that our government could have used it to crack prisoners at Guantanamo. The boy, played by Donkeylips from Salute Your Shorts, is fat, has a lisp, constantly insults others, collects flies anywhere he can find them, and at one point even convinces a female classmate that he’s not really that bad, and all he needs is a friend, and when she takes him at his word and tries to befriend him he goes on to give her a cookie he made filled with dead flies. He of course gets his comeuppance at the end by the tragic irony of the very flies he was so obsessed with, but it’s pretty abrupt and unsatisfying.

I can only wish the movie itself had been so abrupt, as watching it I felt like it might have been twice as long as it actually wound up being. The humor was so lame I have a hard time even envisioning six year olds laughing at it (actually, strike that, I can easily see six year olds laughing at it, assuming their parents actually let them watch it), the film is so slow paced as to be coma inducing, there‘s a completely random cameo from Kirk Cameron and Tracey Gold as their Growing Pains characters (odd that Cameron didn‘t make it into Expelled as one of the ID experts) that goes nowhere, and presumably only exists due to writer/director Brian Peck having been a frequent actor on the show; this may be the worst horror anthology I’ve ever watched. If you ever take my advice on anything, let it be this: be very, very careful just which mostly forgotten children’s horror movies you seek out, because not all of them are awesome.

Rating: *

P.S. Also, notice in the trailer below (which is unfathomably in HD) how every last “scare” in the film is fully displayed without ever needing to watch the movie itself. Also, notice how awful all the acting is. Notice it, I say!

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