Tuesday, September 28, 2010

EIFF Week: The Corrupted

You need to have realistic expectations if you’re going into an independent, Canadian, horror movie. Those three words alone are usually synonymous with “don’t get your hopes up” and seeing all three of them in a row feels like a setup for some unholy trifecta of failure. But even if we were to mark “The Corrupted” on the curve, it’s still barely below a passing grade.

"Proudly, 100% Alberta-made (in Drayton Valley, to boot!), The Corrupted is a truly independent, deliciously entertaining sci-fi thriller shot in just 17 days last summer. And by shooting with the magnificent RED camera, The Corrupted has laid down the gauntlet – giving even the glossiest Hollywood horror flick a serious run for the money! So grab some popcorn, hang on to your seat, and support some ferociously fun local filmmaking!" - Edmonton International Film Festival Hype Machine

There’s no cell phone signal. People pair off to go make out. There’s something in the water. “The Corrupted” is quite faithful to the tropes that make-up a standard horror flick, and, to its credit, looks like a real movie. A sci-fi channel original movie, but a movie nonetheless. A group of friends meet up in a cabin by a lake. The one that was there a week early is behaving strangely, and his blank stares, aloof attitude and persistent nosebleeds arouse suspicions that he’s back on drugs. But because of dramatic irony, the audience knows that he’s hiding something much more... tentacle-ey... than a coke habit.

The first two acts are spent building suspense, but mostly has our hapless college kids walking around being irritating. Talking about life, drinking, joking, swimming. Nobody is pathetic enough to feel sorry for, and only one of the characters is obnoxious enough that you beg for his gruesome demise. But that never really happens, seeing as the monster in the movie possesses people in a manner that’s as brutal as being force fed calamari. There have been more disgusting challenges on Survivor.

“The Corrupted” also loses points on monster consistency. Every posessed (corrupted?) individual acts differently, weather it’s stumbling around like mental patient, staring into space, or crouching over and making funny “it’s the claw” shapes with their fingers. Are these corrupted individuals super strong or super resilient, or just normal people without respect for personal boundaries? Some of them can spit acid and take a beating, but some are taken out with a couple punches.

The editing needs work too. One particular scene is set up with a couple making out in bed, girl on top, when one of the corrupted grabs the girl by the hair, yanks her backward, roars/screams/hisses, pulls her off the bed and drags her away. This shot takes about seven seconds, after which we cut to the guy lying down on the bed and, after a one second beat, springing into action trying to help the girl. This gives the impression that as his lady was being manhandled he was staring blankly at the entire assault. This would actually have been hilarious in a “Huh, my girlfriend was just abducted right off of me. OH! Yeah I should do something!” sort of way.

“The Corrupted” is missing the manic intensity that makes a bad horror movie truly enjoyable, but it comes close in the third act. When the plucky college kids finally catch wind that something is afoot, the next logical step is to grab a rifle from a picnic table and start blasting away at anything that moves suspiciously. Seriously. They see a guy slumped over in a truck, assume he’s dead, and then shoot him in the chest when he jolts up and grunts at them.

To the film’s credit, it makes the most out of a low budget by working with the “less is more” school of monsterology. We never get a clear look at whatever this tentacle creature is, and the slime and gore effects are all convincing enough. This isn’t so much a point in its favor as it is a lack of demerit.

God bless ‘em for trying, but the “The Corrupted” has a combination of bad acting, slow pacing, decent effects and a passable script. If they cut out half an hour of chatting and added another fifteen minutes of monster rampage, I would recommend it. As it stands, “The Corrupted” isn’t something to go out of your way for.

Audience Grievance Level: I think I'll hang up the AGL for the rest of the week, because film festival audiences are generally a better breed than most.

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