It All Happens In The Dark

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“The paper holds their folded faces to the floor, and every day the paper boy brings more.”

Rosewood Lane (2011)

Rosewood Lane is creatively bankrupt. There’s potential here for an absorbing dark side of suburbia tale, but director Victor Salva isn’t capable of any sort of Blue Velvet depth or even the shallow insight of American Beauty. This film feels very Lifetime movie, and has a flat and uninspired look that meshes perfectly with the flat and uninspired script and directing. Released straight to DVD, it is all too evident why this was never given a theatrical release.

The setup is intriguing but mostly too ludicrous to be taken sincerely. Rose McGowan plays Dr. Sonny Blake, a psychiatrist with a call-in show on the radio – think Frasier Crane or Laura Schlessinger, but not as pompous as the former or as crazily conservative as the latter. After her father dies, Sonny decides to move back to her small hometown of Stillwater, into the very house where daddy was found at the bottom of the basement stairs. And this means facing demons she thought she’d left behind… and a psychotic paperboy who seems not to be entirely human… and may have had a hand in her father’s death… and may make her his next victim.

The incorporation of past trauma being revisited is not just tired, it is exhausted. And elements of abuse and alcoholism seem to have been added for no real reason other than half-ass attempts at “realism” and probably to help pad out the flimsy premise.

None of the elements introduced ever tie together into one unifying theme, nor do they resonant or make any impact. Nothing that happens in the story is surprising. Of course the cops don’t believe Sonny’s story. Of course the neighbor’s won’t talk about the paperboy (who, by the way, can leap from lawn to roof in a single bound). Of course Sonny’s love life is complicated and she has a tell-it-like-it-is best friend.

As it is, the film only gets the most minimal of mileage out of the psycho demonic paperboy angle and even when McGowan’s plight seems to have dead-ended and become absolutely hopeless, it never feels like anything is at stake – Sonny is never really that boxed in or that at the end of her rope and we never doubt for a minute that she will come out on top.

When the paperboy offers McGowan a special introductory rate, bemoans the amount of Americans who still read and later warns her that her offer is about to expire, it is so spot on creepy exactly for being so ordinary and playing up the vague yet undeniable underlying threat. If the film didn’t take itself so seriously and had really been about a devilish paperboy who won’t take no for an answer and is murderously disappointed that no one reads anymore, it could have been quite enjoyable. Instead we get McGowan Nancy Drew-ing and setting out to bring the little twerp to justice.

I have been a fan of McGowan since I first noticed her in Scream. Even though most of the rough edges that she so fascinatingly exhibited in her earlier days have been buffed away and even though she barely resembles the actress she was at the beginning of her career, her work is something I always try to keep up with and make an effort to see.

She ably carries this film, and considering what a unintentional joke the whole endeavor is, that is quite an achievement. She is obviously giving her best here, which is more than most actresses would have done, but the lousy script hobbles her.

Lesley-Anne Down shows up briefly as Sonny’s own doctor and brings to the proceedings an effortless gravity that temporarily elevates the film – it plummets from that height as soon as she is off-screen. Her two scenes are the best in the film.

The usually reliable Lin Shaye also makes an appearance, but her part is unbelievably trivial and she is totally wasted.

It is made very clear that the paperboy is underage, but the actor portraying him, Daniel Ross, is obviously not. This most likely owes to Salva’s history with minors, which would prevent him from casting an actor who was age appropriate. But I’m reviewing a film, not passing moral judgments so I have nothing more to add about that.

There is, however, one more thing I do want to mention and that is the continued use of children’s rhymes and lullabies as creepy and sinister singsong slogans. This has become incredibly overdone in the horror genre and was never particularly frightening in the first place. At this point we’re down to “Hickory Dickory Dock”  being utilized as a menacing form of intimidation. C-

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2 responses to ““The paper holds their folded faces to the floor, and every day the paper boy brings more.”

  1. Eric September 19, 2012 at 8:15 am

    A solid, well written review. If you’re going to review a film, though, please take the time to get the director’s name right. It’s Salva, not Garcia!

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