So here’s a new segment on the page. It’s rather childish but I know how much people love to hear this sort of thing and I’d pretty much do anything for more readers. So here it is, Your Moment of Rage.
For our first rage, let’s pick on one of my all time, ‘how-the-hell-does-this-guy-keep-getting-work’, douchebags: Ehren Kruger. He’s a famous screenwriter who’s known for ‘movies’ like REINDEER GAMES (way to go on coming up with one of the worst possible movie title, by the way), BROTHERS GRIMM, and the last three TRANSFORMERS movies. Which, I was shocked to learn actually had a writer. I thought it was just a bunch of stock footage of explosions and Army gatherings with CGI robots all over the place. Apparently none of that can happen without a writer telling Michael Bay when he can make explosions, and when he can’t. It’s funny because it’s true.
I will start off by saying he started good. His first major movie that he wrote was ARLINGTON ROAD, and it is damn good. A man who teaches a college course on domestic terrorism suspects his neighbors of being domestic terrorists. Yes, this story has been done to death, because, how much do we really know about our neighbors (I, for example, know nothing. My house is a rock, it is an island)? ARLINGTON ROAD stands above the sub-genre through some great performances (Jeff Bridges? Awesome. Joan Cusack? Awesome. Tim Robbins? Awesome. Hope Davis? Nobody knows who she is, but I think she’s awesome anyway.) and EXCELLENT pacing, this is a suspense/thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat for the majority of the second half.
Then Ehren Kruger, off of his success (and he got some award for it too…can’t remember what it was, probably because it’s a joke since they gave an award to Ehren Kruger) with ARLINGTON ROAD, started selling a lot of scripts. None of which are able to capture the magic of ARLINGTON ROAD. Which convinces me of two things. ARLINGTON ROAD was a fluke carried by a very good ensemble of actors, and I like to entertain the idea that Ehren Kruger killed his college roommate and stole his script for ARLINGTON ROAD and sold it as his own. Okay, that second one is a bit far-fetched and just said for the purposes of comedy. But the first does have legs. ARLINGTON ROAD did have an extremely talented cast, so even if the script wasn’t that great, they certainly polished that turd as polished as it could be. My other evidence is that the director, Mark Pellington, went on to direct the absolutely terrible snooze-fest THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES, and has spent a good portion of his career directing music videos.
One of his first post-ARLINGTON ROAD gigs was SCREAM 3. The SCREAM franchise is one of my favorite horror franchises, I used to worship my Kevin Williamson (the creator of SCREAM, and let’s not forget DAWSON’S CREEK, one of my all-time favorite TV series) shrine all the time, until SCREAM 3 came along, not written by Kevin Williamson. Instead they got Ehren Kruger to write a script from a little outline that Kevin Williamson made. Suddenly the vocabularies of the characters got smaller, suddenly all the great self-referential moments disappeared, suddenly all the violent charm was gone (WTF!!! A slasher killer kills a guy buy filling a trailer with gas and blowing it up? That’s an action movie, not a horror movie. Kruger, you’re a dick), and the worst sin was killing Liev Schreiber (who played Cotton Weary in the first two films) in the goddamn opening sequence. Again, Mr. Kruger, you are a dick. SCREAM 3 is just awful. And some of the dialogue is just…argh. “I’m a director, Sid. I direct!” Makes me want to put a gun to my head and paint the walls with my brains. The whole attempt at trying to tie it all up in a trilogy barely works, and on a technicality (well we tied it back to Sidney’s mom, that’s enough to tie it all together, right?) at that. There are so many things wrong with SCREAM 3 that I don’t have room for them. So let’s go on to some of Ehren Kruger’s later craptacular films.
He got a lot of traction for REINDEER GAMES (again, dumbest title ever), but I could never figure out why. The film is awful. I guess people liked it because of all the twists/double crosses in it. To me, it was just boring, boring, boring. SKELETON KEY (which somehow got a sequel) was just awful, with a little brainpower, you know from the beginning what the twist ending is, which in itself is not a bad thing all the time. However, when the movie is beating you over the head with the ‘how can you not tell the twist ending!?!?!” over and over, when you actually do, it can be painful and my reaction is usually “screw you, you condescending prick”. A movie like THE USUAL SUSPECTS has a big twist at the end, but the first ninety minutes aren’t filled with out-of-context hints. This allows the viewer to see the twist ending, and review what he/she saw up to that point that led in that direction, but the hints aren’t beat-you-over-the-head’ and arrogant, like THE SKELETON KEY. Aw hell, the only good thing about that movie was when it was finally over.
The rest of Kruger’s work is representative of mindless fluff (like the three TRANSFORMERS movies) that pander to the lowest common denominator. Sometimes I think that SCREAM 4 was made as Kevin Williamson’s way of apologizing for being in absentia for SCREAM 3.
Oh, almost forgot. Ehren Kruger wrote THE RING and THE RING 2. Here’s why that’s funny. He gets all this credit for writing a very, very, creepy movie. But THE RING is based on a series of films called the RINGU anthology from Japan. He went and took the best parts of the anthology and adapted them into one movie, THE RING. Well, THE RING was so popular that there was demand for a sequel, which he also wrote. But now that he’d already cannibalized the anthology, he had to go mostly original with THE RING 2, and you can ask anyone, THE RING 2 is an unintelligible mess.
But I guess he has the last laugh, he’s got all that mad money from three TRANSFORMERS films, but I have something he doesn’t, a creative mind and dignity.