Alright, to be truthful the next horror film in my blu-ray collection is THE EXORCIST (the 2000 re-release edition), and I recently watched it (for the hundredth time, it seems) to prepare to write a review of it. However, I’m a little hung up as the best approach for it. So while I debate it, we’re going to actually go BACKWARDS (trust me, it’ll make sense in a few sentences) to the letter ‘C’ in my blu-ray collection because today I just bought—what will most likely be—a less than great horror double feature from Scream Factory (an offshoot of Shout Factory). I say ‘most likely’ because over the past week I’ve gotten a couple of them, and they’re either bad, or so bad they’re good. So in this review we’re going to talk about CATACOMBS. Then we’ll talk the second movie in the double feature, probably go on to skip past THE EXORCIST for a few reviews and go into the letter ‘F’ in the blu-ray collection for a while.
CATACOMBS is about a remote home for monks, back in the year 508, in the catacombs (see…there’s the title…spared no expense) below the property, an evil…demon (?) was sealed up in a room by a talisman that hung on the door, ya know, before it was bricked up as well because why not? Then, in present day, a woman comes to the same place, where some of the monks claim having her there will only cause evil and trouble, because those monks got all their inspiration from ALIEN 3 (which I know was made later, but whatever. My joke). Anyway, the talisman gets removed by a monk, the evil escapes, monks die, big exorcism-esque ending. Oh, and the vast majority of these events had nothing to do with the woman, sexist monks. Come to think of it, very little of the movie dealt with her at all. Anyway, in the end, evil is vanquished, all sexism is undone, and the bells ring as the end credits slowly crawl up the screen.
To call CATACOMBS ‘boring’ would be too simplistic. I mean, yes, it is boring, but a lot of the elements of this film slow it down insanely so that all you can say of it later at best is, boring. So lemme break it down a little bit in no real particular order.
The first problem with CATACOMBS is that it takes nearly an entire hour before things get rolling. We have the prologue that takes longer than it should. Then in the present we must meet the cast of characters, deal with a subplot or two that—for time and interest—could have been removed and no one would have noticed. Then we get the talisman off the door at about the 25 minute mark. Then we wait nearly 30 minutes before the evil and the monks start to clash and bodies start piling up (a small pile, but a pile nonetheless). Drives me nuts when films do this, take forever to really get started. I heard once that every screenplay should have something balls-out amazing and interesting happen by ten page that really brings in the audience. Well, I wish that was more of a practice throughout film history, especially horror film history. Nothing is worse than a horror film that reads like stereo instructions before the action starts. Ugh.
Another problem with CATACOMBS is, while stealing the ‘evil-cam’ from THE EVIL DEAD, it moves at a snail’s pace. Sometimes with smoke, sometimes without smoke. These sections of the film (and there are several) really bogs down everything that is going on around it. Yeah, maybe I was kinda sucked in when one of the monks was wandering the catacombs and finding a mysterious and evil section of it. I was, however, immediately dragged from being interested because it kept intercutting shots of evil-cam moving painfully slow for extended periods of time. Evil is that granny driving ahead of you at 25 mph in a 35 mph zone in this movie. Not only does it always take you out of the movie because it kills the tension and suspense the film is building on, it’s also just plain annoying. Had they sped these sections of the film up to an acceptable speed, the film would have shaved minutes off of its run time. Unrelated/related: had they cut down on how many steps were in the spiral staircase to get down to the catacombs, it would have been a shorter movie too. No kidding, several shots of people walking and running down those steps, but these shots take way too much time as there are just too many damn stairs.
The final nail in CATACOMBS coffin, aside from some serious fear-of-women/women-are-evil overtones, is that there just isn’t enough interesting things happening in this movie. Simply put, I had to pause it twice for extended periods of time because I felt like I was wasting time (I mean, in the grand scheme it is a waste of time, but I mean wasting the time that I’m wasting). At one point I went to my laptop and typed up the first paragraph of this review, I was that bored.
I was tempted to turn on the commentary track with the director, but seeing what I had seen so far, I didn’t wanna listen to a man justify his crappy film, regardless of how hilarious it may have come off. No dice.
So let’s move on to the second film in this double feature, next I’ll review CELLAR DWELLER. No, not joking, that’s the title. Rhyming is fun…