Thursday, February 24, 2011
This film had a lot going for it at the onset. Most notably, the premise. The Romans believed that at the time of death, one could capture a person's spirit as it left the person's body upon their last exhale. An ingenious doctor perfected the process of capturing it, selling the encapsulated essence to the highest bidder. The reasoning? When inhaled, the spirit cured the recipient of any current ailments as well as allowing them to prolong their life. The main problem with the film? Too much of a kitchen sink mentality with every genre trope thrown in for good measure. A seeing what sticks approach does not lend itself to making a particularly good film. And it painfully shows here.
The film opens with a montage (think Watchmen but nowhere near as epic) as we see a mysterious box pass from owner to owner over the decades and finding its way into the present and into the hands of a curio shop owner. The owner is a woman who's suffering from a terminal illness and only has months to live. A strange couple and an over zealous man both are looking for the box, the eager man winning out in the end as the highest bidder for it. And its obvious that he knows of the valuable contents that lie within.
What starts off as a seemingly well intentioned man as his own sister is suffering from a terminal illness itself, devolves into a sinister plot by him to expose everyone to the effects of the spirit dwelling vials. Why exactly do you ask? Well it seems that the good doctor, instead of using normal test subjects, actually used violent prison inmates and when someone inhales the spirit, along with curing them and prolonging their life, they are turned into violent savages. Wowsers!
So in order to keep his plot going and to 'take care of' anyone that stands in his way, the film moves from the supernatural to straight up slasher as he dispenses a couple of kids who could expose him. As the film progresses and the 'virus' gets out, guess what type of a terrain the film veers into next? It's boring, it's lame and it's a sad attempt to be all things to all people.
Look, I learned of a strategy long ago in marketing when I first started off in the corporate world that has served me well: make your focus narrow and your appeal will be broad; make your focus broad and your appeal will be narrow. I've seen too many of these types of films and they all end up being one jumbled mess. I could have looked past the additionally shoddy acting and find value in the really great concept that was there at the beginning. But when the film veered into other territory, it lost me and it just became downright silly.
I can't in good conscience recommend this film to anyone. Skip. Pass. Find something better to do with an hour and 40 min. of your life.
Cortez the Killer