Disclaimer: My reviews of media here do not mean that I lay any claim to the media in question. All reviews are entirely subjective. I may talk about how well the movie objectively works in my opinion, but it essentially all comes down to what I think of the movie. My liking a movie is not the same as thinking it's a great movie. If I trash a movie that you love, or love a movie you can’t stand, it’s not because I hate you. Also, all reviews are likely to contain SPOILERS. If you haven’t seen the movies in question and don’t want to know what happens, then you probably shouldn’t be reading about them here. Finally, a blanket trigger warning for people who don't want to read about common horror movie content such as sexism, racism, violence, etc.: I will likely discuss all of the above when they show up in the films I review, so please tread with caution. Check out this post for more on how my reviews are set up.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Horror Movie Review: 100 Feet (2008)

Overall: B
Acting: B
Writing: B
Story: B
Technical aspects: B
Effects: C

Directed by:
Eric Red

Famke Janssen
Bobby Cannavale
Ed Westwick
Michael Pare

Particular triggers: domestic violence
Passes the Bechdel test? yes, but barely

            100 Feet is the story of a woman named Marnie Watson (Famke Janssen), who is placed under house arrest after being found guilty of the murder of her husband, Mike (Michael Pare). Mike was abusive, and the murder was in self-defense; Marnie had reported him several times to the police, but as Mike himself was a cop, little was done and the investigations were generally dropped. Complicating things, the cop in charge of Marnie, named Shanks (Bobby Cannavale), was Mike’s partner.
            “100 Feet” refers to the distance that Marnie is allowed to travel – any farther, and the anklet she wears will send a signal to the police, and she’ll be sent back to prison.
            It quickly becomes clear that Mike’s ghost is haunting the house, and he continues to attack her. Unwilling to leave or be sent back to prison, Marnie attempts exorcisms, attempts to force Mike’s spirit out of the house by getting rid of his possessions, etc. but nothing works. Some of the assaults against her are investigated by Shanks, who is beginning to believe that someone else is beating Marnie, and that this other person may be the one actually responsible for killing Mike.
            It’s hard to say much else without being too spoiler-heavy.

I actually really like this movie. I find Marnie’s character interesting and sympathetic, not quite the same as the average female horror movie protagonist. She seems genuinely conflicted, not feeling guilty for killing her husband because of the circumstances, but regretting that it happened. She’s imperfect, but her actions are consistent with her character.
The small cast helps the film feel very self-contained, and emphasizes the feeling of isolation that Marnie experiences in the house.
I enjoy the premise of being literally trapped in a house with something malevolent, and by something more than a broken-down car or a silly dare. (And yes, I remember that Disturbia also used the “house arrest” premise, but I like its use in this movie far more, and that’s about the only way the films are at all comparable.) Also in the category of at least kind of subverting common tropes, while she does refuse to seek outside help, this also makes sense for her character. After her experiences, of course she’s not going to ask Shanks or any other cops for help.
The biggest detractor in my opinion is the ending, which is tied together a little too neatly and rapidly. The ultimate way they get rid of Mike’s ghost works, I suppose, but seems like something that would have occurred to her earlier. The effects are also a bit hit-or-miss. They aren’t the most ridiculous, but a few times the ghost modeling is quite fake looking (when he’s heavily active) and one scene in particular has pretty laughable blood effects.
Occasionally this one runs on Syfy, and I’d certainly recommend the watch if it does come up. It’s also had a DVD release, and it’s one that I enjoyed enough that I’m considering purchasing it.


  1. This is probably the movie that made me realize I like Famke Janssen as an actress (and a beautiful woman). It allowed me to see her outside of "Jean Grey" (though when I watch X-Men 1-3, I still absolutely hate her guts, as well as I can't watch the "Perfect Mate" episode of ST:NG because she and Picard are damn near all over each other and that makes me want to vomit), and it allowed me to see her with her natural coloring and her actual acting ability. I love her in this movie. There are a few places where I think she could be a little stronger, but hell, she's a survivor of domestic abuse, so she's not always going to be the strongest woman. I feel really bad for the kid, and a part of me thinks that she shouldn't have courted her ghost-husband's displeasure that way. On the other hand, I think it was a liberating moment for her to say "Fuck you" to him, and it's just a shame that she couldn't get the kid out of the room. I understand why it's in there, though. It's a movie that makes me feel vindicated every time someone tells me that cops don't commit rape or abuse their wives/husbands or do anything bad. I actually did purchase it when I found it for $4.99 at Half Price.

    1. I know that you hate Jean Grey so much that I wondered if you'd ever seen this movie. Because I do like Famke Janssen, though I'm not a member of the Jean Fanclub by any stretch. (Maybe except for in Evolution? I got annoyed with her for some things in that, but didn't hate her.)

      I really liked this film, as you know from my review. I feel bad for the kid, too, but I understand why she made the choices she did. And I like her moments of weakness... there are times she could have been stronger, yes, but that's part of what makes her feel "real." Most people fail to make the right decisions sometimes, or aren't as strong as they should be... and especially for her character, the imperfection is necessary.

      And the digs in there about police and their abuse of power are pretty vindicating. The police aren't portrayed as uniformly evil, though Mike certainly was. Shanks, despite how many awful and harmful decisions he made, really does want to do the right thing, but he was open to influence and corruption, and he has to live with knowing that his failures caused almost all of the problems in the film.

      I saw the movie for pretty cheap at Hastings when we still lived near there, and I regret not buying it. If the opportunity presents itself again, I'll snag it for sure.