Thursday, March 11, 2010

American Nightmare (2002)

Fear 0/5
Gore 0/5
Entertainment 0/5
Creepiness 0/5

This movie is truly an exercise in futility. I am simply amazed at how films like this are made. With decent production values, I have to think the filmmaker had to shell out a fair amount of coin. Throw in the cost to pay actors including one of which is a genre 'star' and you are simply left scratching your head after the credits roll (which I was praying for by films end). This is a mired mess of a film with ultimately no redeeming qualities whatsoever.

The film starts off with a group of friends sitting around a campfire, waiting for additional folks to show up for an All Hallows Eve bash. The two girls in the camp walk off as one of them hears the call of nature and needs the escort of her friend. As they chat while looking for a place to pop a squat, one of them talks about being questioned by authorities regarding a crazed nurse who supposedly started hacking up people at the local hospital. Why they question her is anyone's guess and the reason or rationale for the killings is never provided. They are startled by the screams of the men in the camp, return to find the knife wielding nurse in scrubs, and quickly fall victim themselves. Not too shabby of a start to the film. But its all down hill from here folks.

Fast forward a few years, we find a group of Friends (literally 'Friends' as they look exactly like the entire gang from the sitcom) hanging out at a local coffee shop/eatery. After talking about their party plans for Halloween, they are encouraged by the shops owner to dial into a local radio station and talk to the disc jockey who is being blared through the eatery's sound system. He's inviting callers to phone in and air their inner most fears. Each one does: from being afraid of taking a shower alone to being a terrified claustrophobic to being afraid of everything voodoo related because of an ex who put a curse on him, and so on and so forth on down the line. The crazed nurse comes back to town and uses the fear of each against them and plots their demise accordingly.

Sounds like a decent premise right? The worst part about the film is that there is no ingenuity in the kills, no genuine tension or build-up to each one and the characters are so thinly constructed that you could care less once the onscreen 'carnage' starts up (which takes over a half an hour to get going after the openinig scene). I say carnage sarcastically as its anything but. Kills happen offscreen, with zero to no blood and worse yet, no gore.

Setting aside the painstakingly slow pacing and buildups is the most atrocious dialogue I've ever heard, which is clearly intentional in its ernestness. Get a load of these beauties:

The radio DJ to his listeners: How many people out there are doing the old 'razor blade in the apple' trick? A show of hands. Huh?

The radio DJ after the killer calls in and gets off on him using the word 'knife' as a metaphor for a man's dingus: Well I hope that satisfies all of you audio voyeurs out there. Websters Dictionary much?

These are examples of the two most grievous errors but there are tons more that abound. Not too be outdone, every utterance that comes out of the mouth of the killer is incredibly cliched. And did I mention a motive is never given? I might accept the explanation that not having a motive was intentional and that the ending was meant to be a complete 'shocker'. But for a film that had no emotional connection throughout, if this is the case, its intent was never fully realized.

I've already talked about this film for far longer than I've wanted. I was going to claim ignorance on the part of the filmmakers but when the friends first meet, they are all quizzing each other about famous horror film quotes so a tacit understanding of the genre is displayed. Sadly, this didn't translate into the least bit of an enjoyable movie watching experience whatsoever and it ultimately lends itself to feeling as if they had no idea what they were doing.

Avoid this film at all costs. Unless you want a 90 min. case of tourettes. If my fiance (who despises horror movies) says that this is one of the worst movies she's ever seen, you know its truly terrible. Oh and don't let any of the reviews sway you either. They're horseshit.

Cortez the Killer

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J. Astro said...

100% agreed, this totally sucked the big one. Unbelievably dull piece of lifeless shit.

Cortez The Killer said...

Its a sonic abortion. An affront to horror fans everywhere. I've seen A LOT of terrible horror films but this one just might the worst.

Carl (ILHM) said...

I couldnt help but laugh when I was in the reader and the preview read 0's for every aspect. Way to take one for the team, im OUT on this one! HOWEVER, be sure to check out American Nightmare from the late 90s, a documentary discussing the social and political influences that molded Wes Craven, Tom Savini, and many others, all interviewed in the film!

Cortez The Killer said...

@Carl, will do sir! I've never seen it before. Thanks for the recommendation.