|THRILLER / SUSPENSE|
|ALPHABET||SCARY TOP 10||SCIENCE MOMENT||FEO'S STUFF||UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT||SCARY TOP 10|
I have to say that the opening credits for THE ATTIC EXPEDITIONS are the best I've seen in a long time. Reminscent of both the American International Hammer era of Horror Thriller in the mid to late sixties as well as the early to mid-nineteen eighties Stuart Gordon movies. The opening original music by composer david Reynolds was excellent, in my opinion. Plus it stars Jeffrey Combs, Alice Cooper, and Seth Green, so it has to be good, right?
Or at least worth watching?
A man wakes up on a blanket outside on a grassy hillside beneath a tree. A woman with flaming red hair, enamel white skin, and an almost etheral, alien beauty, walks up and calls him by name: Trevor (Andras Jones: SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIME BOWL-A-RAMA, A NIGHTMARE ON ELMSTREET 4). Trevor calls her Faith (Beth Bates: OUT OF THE DARKNESS) and tries to tell her of his dream (which seems to be the opening credits), but he doesn't quite remember it. They pledge their love to each other and when they go to kiss, Trevor suddenly finds himself on an operating table in a hospital, fighting off the staff. A reflective surface reveals that his head is shaven and he quickly figures out that he's there for some kind of operation on his brain. This throws him into a mad panic which isn't helped when a masked surgeon called Dr. Eks (Jeffrey Combs: RE-ANIMATOR [all]) walks up and in soothing tones tells Trevor that he can and will operate on his brain so Trevor might as well accept it. After all: Trevor signed the release form.
Trevor doesn't recognize his own handwriting, but maybe that's the problem. Either that or the hospital accidentally has the wrong guy!
Side bar here: My personal Room 101 would be the opening of this film. To be moments before having brain surgery and have Jeffrey Combs, of all people, come walking in and try to calm me, would send me right over the M.F. EDGE!
They put the sleepy mask over Trevor's face and the next thing he knows, he's bound to an earthen floor within a circle of stones. Faith walks out of the dark wearing black and holding a candle at all the wrong moments. Trust me, just as there are times when you would never want to see Jeffrey Combs come walking in, you wouldn't want to see the love of your life approaching you as one would approach a blood sacrifice. Faith chants eerily, pulls a huge dagger from a book, and gets naked. Did I say Faith was a beauty? Hell! She's stone cold freaking HOT! She is also shaved ... ahem. Or maybe it was a wax job. The camera got close but not THAT close and this is sure bringing back some memories for ME! Except the woman wasn't the love of my life and she didn't look anywhere NEAR this good!
The next thing you know, the lights go out and when they come back on, Trevor is standing in what appears to be a living room, his hands are covered in blood, and he calls the police to report a murder. Faith is dead on the floor, and Trevor callously jerks the knife from her corpse. Then he magically lights a match.
The NEXT thing you know, some nurses are watching Trevor wake up in a very unprivate room full of empty hospital beds. Reality ain't what it used to be and none of these scenarios are kind to Trevor. Are these memories? Is this what Trevor sees while kindly Dr. Eks operates on his brain? Does Trevor ever snap out of it? And what is going on here anyway?
With all of the disjointed stories going on with Trevor, he finally reaches stability - somewhat - when he enters the House of Love. There he meets a halfway houseful of nutcases and must accept that he is somehow just as bad off as they are. There is the spidery Dr. Thalama (Wendy Robie: THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS, VAMPIRE IN BROOKLYN, THE DENTIST 2), the sexually dysfunctional Amy (Shannon Hart Cleary: LEGION OF THE NIGHT), slightly sadistic Ronald (Jerry Hauck), Liz (Nancy Wolf) and Douglas (Seth Green: IDLE HANDS, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER [TV], SCOOBY DOO 2). Seth Green was bad news for Andras Jones.
This was screenwriter Rogan Russell Marshall's first feature film and he is clearly trying for the kind of weirdness we've seen many times before in everything from JACOB'S LADDER to Charles Beaumont's BRAIN DEAD. And while writers like Charlie Kaufman seem capable of writing such twisted pieces with ease, such stories are difficult to direct (which is why directors like Michael Gondry and Spike Jonze are the only ones that seem capable of making any sense of Kaufman's works). Director Jeremy Kasten was very nearly up to the task except for three things.
First off, Seth Green can act circles around Andras Jones; making him appear like some confused shlub who walked onto the set when he strayed from the studio tour. Seth steals every scene he is in and most of them are with Andras. You thought Winona Ryder had it bad acting next to Angelina Jolie in GIRL, INTERRUPTED? Wait until you see Seth mop up the floor with Andras. It's heartbreaking.
The second problem is a subplot involving Dr. Eks and his new assistant / colleague, Dr. Coffee. (Ted Raimi: THE EVIL DEAD [all], CANDYMAN, SPIDER-MAN [all]). This story goes nowhere but they keep running it in the background. Dr. Coffee is basically "Exposition Boy" while they spy in on Trevor through cameras secreted throughout the halfway household. Apparently all the other patients and even the doctor are really actors, but it would have been a hell of a lot cooler to see Trevor discover that for himself, than to have it all given away in a meaningless plot-thread.
Third and final is the house and the attic, home of the promised expeditions. The house is never threatening in any way, though there are several scenes where it is supposed to be just that. Nothing in the way of decoration, lighting, camera angles, or what have you, bring about the supposed "life" of the house as a character in the movie: which is what was sorely needed.
THE ATTIC EXPEDITIONS takes major hits on all three of these problems and never recovers despite how weird and twisted they tried to make it.
Two Shriek Girls.