It All Happens In The Dark

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Get Thee to a Sherwin-Williams

Finale (2009)

I’m a sucker for almost any movie that comes bearing laurel wreaths. You know, the insignia that informs one that a film has been through the festival circuit and been awarded festival honors. I get especially excited when I see them on the packaging or poster for a horror film. Well, that will from here on out be taken with a grain of salt. The last two times I fell for this I was rather disappointed. Not cool you tricky Laurus nobilis.

So, on with the disappointment! I had read great reviews about this little indie (see, how could I go wrong?) called Finale. And when I saw the poster the whole top of the thing was plastered with laurel wreaths! Also, it involved hallucinations, a demon who seeks entrance into this world via the always reliable evil mirrors (this one, however isn’t kidding around, and will gain access to our mortal coil by ANYTHING with a reflection) and a cult of Satan worshiping high schoolers! What more could I ask for me? Did David Cronenberg direct it?

I really don’t want to talk badly about this movie. You can tell that everyone involved did their best and was totally dedicated to this project – and I hate faulting a film that is trying this hard – especially trying something new and unique. So I was very impressed because it was not the same old stalk and slash, stalk and slash (which I love don’t get me wrong). But I still didn’t like it. And boy do I feel like a jerk for that. No, I really do.

I’m not sure exactly where this one went wrong for me… the acting was uneven, but hardly awful, with some good performances … the script was thoughtful even if it did have some holes… the music? The cinematography? Lets try and take this one apart…

The plot follow the hijinks story of the Michaels family who are attempting to process the loss of one of their own, son and brother Sean, who took his life via hanging. Or did he?

But Sean could not have been suicidal — never mind that he painted all the walls at his house black, smashed all the mirrors, rigged a bomb in his closet where he had a secret hidey-hole of strange journals that obliquely mention ‘the collector’ and some other very non-sunshine and lollipops sounding things. Said journals being found amid a flourish of rose petals, next to a Lord of the Rings sword, under some art on the wall that appears to be a creature made out of a collage of genitalia images. But mother doesn’t want to believe her son did this to himself, sister thinks mother is in denial, dad likes to drink a lot (I like him) and older brother knows something he ain’t telling. So, mommie dearest mommie dedicated, who is having some very vivid and disturbing dreams while sleepwalking, takes to hanging out at the old house where Sean was living, and wondering if the whole black paint on everything isn’t such a bad decor choice after all. Also, what’s up with that Woman In Black-clone hanging around Sean’s grave, and nailing (or when she gets creative biting the heads off) ravens and smearing their blood on Sean’s grave? (You’ll probably guess this one, but I’m askin’ nonetheless.) And how did little sister suddenly get the lead part in the new school play and catch the eye of the hunk everyone wants? And why is the drama teacher, Mrs. Bliss (are you having a Saved By The Bell flashback too?) such a mean old bitch? And why are there so many mannequin heads hanging on strings back stage? And why does the Michael’s priest have two hooks for hands?

There were a lot of good ideas here, but they just didn’t hang together for me. A lot of people however, like this movie, and maybe you would. I’m not always right (don’t tell my mother). And I  have to give the team behind this film major props for branching out in a new direction, and attempting to create an original story with an original mythology. This isn’t an awful film, but it also isn’t one I felt I could become emotionally involved in and I did find myself getting bored near the end. That said, the actresses who play the mother and the daughter are really pretty good (and I especially enjoyed the monologue that the daughter read when auditioning for the play) and I just loved Mrs. Bliss (“I’ll keep you both in my prayers!”). I really dug that the school was putting on a production of The Crucible which mirrored (ooooh, evil!) nicely the events that were taking place in our story. Some of the effects left a bit to be desired, and the script could have been tightented up with some of the excess fat trimmed off to leave us with a leaner, meaner runtime. However, if the director stays on this path, honing his talents and crafting material that has flavors of this kind of originality, he may some day make something truly fantastic and frightening. C

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