Every so often, here in the Dungeon we’ll have a theme week, where all of the movies that I bitch about will be bound together by a certain recurring element, be it subject matter, motif, or genre. This week, we’re gonna zero in on a subgenre of film that has produced a sheer deluge of bullshit: the found footage movie.
Now, don’t get me wrong; if handled right, a found footage movie can be entertaining, and even scary. If it’s a horror flick, you have to show just enough of the monster/killer/whatever to leave an actual impact, but not enough to have the audience become desensitized to it. And you gotta have actors who are actually capable of, you know, acting. Now, I don’t mean Oscar-winning performances here, but it has to feel like these are real people reacting to real terror; if not, just trash the whole fucking thing, you’ve already lost.
Like I said, a properly-handled found footage movie can be excellent. But here’s the thing; most of the jackasses out in Hollywood? Yeah, they DON’T know how to handle it properly, resulting in an unwatchable shitstorm of bad acting and shakycam induced vomiting.
And that last note makes a perfect segue into discussing Cloverfield. Let’s go back; it’s January of ’08, and this new J.J. Abrams movie is coming out, and we have no idea what the fuck it’s about, aside from it being about a giant monster attacking New York, and even that was pretty much just guesswork for a long-ass time. But if Abrams knows how to do one thing, it’s how to string the masses along, and boy, do we ever take the bait. So we finally see it, and it’s okay. I mean, it’s not good, but it’s not terrible either, it just sorta… is. But with all that anticipation, there was money to be made, and who better to swoop in and take advantage of the confused and anticipatory public than our old friends at The Asylum?
Now, for those of you fortunate or stupid enough not to know who the kind folks of The Asylum are, well, they’re the pigfucking cashwhores responsible for all those knock-off movies that Sy-Fy runs all the fucking time. You know, like when you press the guide button on your remote, and see that “The Terminator” is on, and you squeal in delight like a pig, only to immediately scream “WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS SHIT” upon being confronted with a clusterfuck of bad CGI. You then check the guide, see that it actually says “The Terminators”, and in a moment of pure, beautiful hate, realize you’ve been had, your voice joining a wrathful choir of malice, screaming a single word towards the heavens, hate punctuating every syllable: “ASYYYYYYYLUUUUUUMMM!!!”
Now, don’t get me wrong; not all their movies are knockoffs; they have an entire market of movies about shitty giant CGI animals killing each other. Nor are all their movies painfully bad; some are enjoyably bad, with their Sherlock Holmes movie being particularly glorious. If you haven’t already seen it, here’s the trailer. Yes, Ianto Jones was Watson. Yes, there was a dinosaur and a fucking robot dragon. And yes that was Malcolm Reed in a steampunk Iron Man suit.
WATCH IT NOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWW.
Sadly, that’s not the movie we’re talking about today. I’m not that lucky. We were talking, figuratively speaking, about Cloverfield? Remember? Then we talked about The Asylum and their shitty knockoffs. Can you see where I’m going with this?
That’s right, a shitty Asylum knockoff of Cloverfield, the oh-so-imaginatively titled “Monster.”
Well, Cloverfield was about a bunch of assholes trying to find their friends and survive after a monster attack. What’s Monster about? Well, it’s about two obnoxious bitches trying to survive after a monster attack. In Japan. Of course it is.
The movie opens with text stating that two American filmmakers were in Japan on January 17, 2003, when a killer quake hit, killing seven thousand people. What, don’t you remember that? It was all over the news. Anyways, the text then goes on to inform us that… there was no earthquake! Considering that the cover looks like this
I should fucking hope this movie isn’t about a goddamn earthquake.
Suddenly, a wild foot appears! Obnoxious, vapid, bitchy main character, I choose you! We’re introduced to our assholes du jour, because here in the Dungeon, our movies don’t have “heroes”, although a significant portion of them do have whores. So there is that.
Their names are Sarah and Erin Lynch, and here’s a fun game: one “actress” is named Sarah Lieving, and the other is named Erin Evans. Can you guess which “actress” plays which “character”? Bet you can’t. It’s a moot point anyway, as these two annoying twats are so indistinguishable from each other that you will neither know nor care which bitch is which(heh) by film’s end. For brevity’s sake, I call ’em Thing 1 and Thing 2.
Things 1 and 2 are leaving their native Los Angeles to go to Tokyo to shoot a documentary on global warming, which is apparently something you do if you’re from California. Although this raises several important questions. Firstly, why the fuck are they going to Japan to do this? Can’t they just find Al Gore aerating his jowls at the local beach, and interview him? If you’re dead set on going to Japan, why the fuck are you shooting a documentary on global warming there? Shouldn’t you save the plane fare for topics that you can’t just go up and ask any asshole on the street about? This is California, for fuck’s sake. You can spit and it’ll land on either a hippie or an ecologist. And, most importantly, why these jackasses? Were they hired to do it? If so, wasn’t there anyone, ANYONE AT ALL, more qualified than these unprofessional assclowns? Are they famous filmmakers, or reporters, or something? There’s nothing to suggest they are, and yet somehow these apparent nobodies manage to set up an interview with a Japanese governmental minister from several fucking CONTINENTS away.
Sorry, got distracted by the stupid.
So, we’re off to Japan. But before we get there, we have to earn it by suffering through several minutes of nothing happening as the characters just fuck about camera for no good reason other than to establish that these are “real people” in the “real world” where crazy shit, like whatever the fuck this particular found footage movie that you’re watching just happens to be about, doesn’t normally happen. Unfortunately, if the “characters” in question, like Thing 1 and Thing 2 here, are bland and stupid, it just makes the audience more bored than they normally would be. And found footage movies almost always do this. Good ones use it to sneak in subtle hints that something is off. Bad ones don’t. As such, this isn’t the last time this bullshit is going to show up in one of these movies. Hell, it’s not even the last time this week.
So after they finish filming themselves being stupid jackasses in their house/apartment/mud hut, and filming themselves being stupid jackasses in an airport(!), they’re finally filming themselves being stupid jackasses IN JAPAN. Weren’t they filming a documentary again? What, is this going to show up in the DVD’s extras? Do documentaries even have DVD extras? Sorry, I’ll try to focus.
So they wander aimlessly around Tokyo, and I just realized that since this shit actually appears to have been filmed in Japan, then the plane fare alone would mean it has the highest budget of anything The Asylum’s ever released, and if I seem to be having trouble focusing, it’s because this movie is boring as hell.
So they have their little interview, about THE TERROR OF HEDORAH, I mean global warming, until the building starts shaking and shit starts exploding, and they head down to an emergency shelter in the basement of the building, and try to speak to everyone in English, which leads me to wonder exactly why the fuck they didn’t bring a fucking phrasebook with them, as saying “y hovercraft is full of eels” in perfect Japanese is still better than screaming “ENGLISH MOTHERFUCKER, DO YOU SPEAK IT?” at the terrified people whose home is getting fucked in the kidneys by Cthulhu’s undead partial-birth abortion.
Eventually, a white guy who I swear to god did my taxes once explains that shit is going south, and tells them that they have to go to the Tokyo American Center, and after whatever the fuck is wrecking Tokyo this week roars underground, the decide that he’s right, and leave. I especially love how they put total emphasis on saving their own asses, and give not one fuck about the other people trapped there.
So they leave, through the sewers no less, which is what expert agree you should do in an earthquake, and then the footage goes to shit, at which point the movie helpfully tells us that the Things’ third tape was completely corrupt, and that the fourth tape picks up some time later. Oh, if only the rest of the tapes had been wrecked too, then I wouldn’t have to watch this.More shit blows up, and the accountant guy bites it, leaving the audience alone with camera glitches and two annoying tourists.
Eventually Thing 2 is able to convince her sister that she saw a monster in the explosions by showing her the tape, which is fan-fucking-tastic because that shot never shows up in the tapes, but don’t worry, we see it eventually… and it turns out that this is about the only time that Asylum movie’s cover was accurate, as tentacles are all we ever see of the titular monster. Say what you will about Cloverfield, it least what we saw of its monster was slightly threatening.
So for the next hour or so of the movie, they run around Tokyo, as both American and Japanese planes try in vain to stop the almighty Squidward, who according to a crazy old man in a restaurant, is apparently a legendary godsquid pissed off by foreigners being in Japan. Or something. I honestly don’t know.
Much like Parasitic, you can rest easy knowing that Thing 1 and Thing 2 get crushed by tentacles at the end of this movie, although their father somehow gets a hold of the tapes, and puts them out as a movie… which we just watched, despite the massive coverup that supposedly ensued.
So that was Monster… and honestly I just didn’t give a fuck about it. But don’t worry, there are worse found footage movies to come… oh yes, so much worse…