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.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Horror Movie Reviews: Intermedio (2005)

Overall: F
Acting: D
Writing: F
Story: D
Technical aspects: F
Effects: F

Directed by:
Andrew Lauer

Edward Furlong
Steve Railsback
Cerina Vincent
Amber Benson
Callard Harris
Paul Cram
Alejandro Samaniego
Dean M. Arevalo

What the ass, man? This sucks.

This was a bad movie. Like… in some ways just bafflingly bad. Also, I give basically an entire synopsis of the film below, so it’s super heavy on spoilers.
            Okay, so we’ve got four main characters. Malik (Edward Furlong) lives out in California with his girlfriend Barbie (Amber Benson). His childhood friend Gen (Cerina Vincent) and her boyfriend Wes (Callard Harris) come by to visit, and Wes has a super-awesome plan for them to meet some Mexican drug dealers, spend all their money on some super-awesome marijuana that’s apparently the best weed in the history of weed, and sell it for a super-awesome profit back in the US. As you do.
            But… the tunnel they have to go through turns out to be the very tunnel that Malik and Gen’s respective fathers disappeared down when the two were kids! But the four decide to go down these tunnels, even though the Mexican drug dealers insist on not going all the way to the halfway point due to the fear of “intermedios.” The intermedios are supposedly ghosts trapped in between the realm of the living and the dead. There’s also some other story that’s tied in somehow about how someone who catches the blood of a dead man before it hits the ground will become immortal or something. It’s a little vague.
            As they go through the tunnels, some weird stuff happens, though it’s pretty disjointed. A guy appears to be following them, knocking out the lights and the like. After the four kids meet up with the drug dealers Jorge (Alejandro Samaniego) and Al (Dean M. Arevalo), whoever is stalking them uses a mysterious amulet apparently filled with blood to summon ghosts to attack them. One kills Al, and the others run away. They get separated, with Wes running around alone and yelling for quite a while. (Giving us the wonderful line “What the ass?”) Barbie gets cut in half while they try to run away, and Jorge’s fingers also get cut off. They all get lost in the tunnels, but end up in a safehouse that’s blockaded from the inside. They keep running into a ghost-like boy named Zee (Paul Cram), who seems mostly to want to help them. Wes semi-sacrifices himself so that Gen and Malik can get away, and they crawl through a tunnel to a room filled with bodies. They end up escaping, and ask for a ride from a local (Steve Railsback). He says he’ll drive them to the nearest town, though the viewer knows that he’s the creepy guy who was summoning ghosts before! He starts going on a rant about how his son died in those tunnels, and how the papers made him out to be a terrible person, but the only ones to blame are the drug dealers and people like Malik, Gen, and their friends. He gives Gen some beer (from a sealed can) and she passes out, he drives nails into Malik’s legs before knocking him out with chloroform. The pair wakes up back in the room with the dead bodies, but they find another tunnel to escape out of. They come up into a bedroom that’s covered in news clippings about the boy, Zee, who was killed presumably because he was a drug runner. They realize that the creepy old guy must be Zee’s father.
            The old guy comes back and we get a flashback of sorts explaining how he actually murdered Zee. The old guy tries again to kill Malik and Gen, but the previously-silent Zee tells him to stop. Gen grabs the old man’s amulet, which takes away his powers over the ghosts, who then kill him.
            Malik and Gen get out of the tunnels and get a ride. They then get a hotel room, and the two appear to have decided to become romantically involved. The camera pans out their window, where the ghosts of Barbie and Wes are staring at them.

            This movie was just… badly done. The plot isn’t anything special, but could have been an average or above average movie if done correctly. They even have some real actors! But no, it’s presumably poorly directed or something, because the acting is pretty shoddy, and Edward Furlong pretty much just yells all of his lines.
            The story also is just absolutely rife with plot holes. There’s little reason for them all to go down there, particularly since Barbie is on crutches the whole time. (Trivia tells me that this is because Amber Benson actually was injured, so the crutches were written in for the character, but going into a tunnel with someone who can’t walk is still a stupid idea in-film.) Even down to simple stuff like the old guy kidnapping and knocking Gen and Malik out, leaving them in a room, and then coming back later to kill them. Why did he leave them at all?
The ghost effects are always bad, but additionally are inconsistent. Sometimes they’re bad CG blurs, sometimes they appear to be guys in bad skeleton costumes. The other effects such as the blood and gore stuff is also poorly done.
Some stuff strays between plot hole, inconsistency, and plain incompetence. Several scenes have had the film flipped, so text on people’s shirts appears backwards. Some scenes are entirely reused, just with the film flipped, like when they crawl through the tunnels. When Wes is running through the tunnels he alternately is carrying his backpack and not carrying anything, and eventually inexplicably loses his shirt. Zee is alternately called Zeke and Zack and I think something else throughout the movie. It’s shown that his father killed him by strangling him, but we got a “shocking” scene earlier where you could see him from behind and it appeared he’d been shot in the head. When Gen steals the old man’s amulet and he’s shown frantically trying to get it back, he’s STILL WEARING THE DAMN THING. Gen’s tank top starts out at a reasonable length, and gets progressively shorter through the film (presumably whenever they figured people’s attention was waning) until we start to get some gratuitous underboob shots.
This movie pretty much had no saving points. It’s kind of funny in an unintentionally-bad-movie way, but really isn’t worth seeing unless you want it for that reason. (And while I think the actors realized how bad it was, I don’t think it was truly intended to be as awful as it was… I could be wrong, but it doesn’t seem quite self-aware enough for that. If I AM wrong, then I still think the film fails to achieve its goal.) Even if you’re watching it for the “hey, this is a bad movie, let’s laugh at it” reason, it’s more obnoxious than entertaining a lot of the time. Though at least we now have knowledge of the phrase “what the ass, man?” which has entered into near-daily use in our household.

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