2007 - 90m.
In the 90’s, I went on a trip to Europe with my friend Paul. We saw all kinds of cool things including a gothic bar in Brussels , a classical quartet at a castle in Austria, and my first viewing of Clerks in a funky theatre in Nice (where I got locked in a bathroom stall). Although we were able to see and experience many cool sights, one thing that we missed out on was the infamous catacombs in Paris . We made the trek but were greeted with a “closed” sign that bummed me right out. The catacombs are a massive underground ossuary that holds the remains of six million people in a network of abandoned mining tunnels. I have read many accounts of what it is like to tour this place where the walls are piled floor to ceiling with bones and skulls and I can imagine it being both humbling, peaceful, and nightmarish all at once. I can’t think of a better setting for a horror movie. It is a shame that directors Tomm Coker and David Elliot seem to be so caught up in their concept and plot twists that they forget that they set the movie in an location that should have been the star of the show rather than a background performer.
Shannyn Sossamon (The Rules of Attraction) stars as Victoria , an anxious woman who is invited to Paris by her free-spirited sister Carolyn (Alecia Moore). Carolyn immediately drags the reluctant Victoria to a rave in the aforementioned catacombs shortly after her arrival in France. A small group inexplicably go for a swim in an underground pool but Victoria wants no part of it so she decides to head back into the tunnels on her own in an attempt to get out. Carolyn catches up but is taken down by a man in a goat-mask and left for dead. Victoria hightails it back to the rave which is in the process of being busted up by the police and she is knocked out. She awakens to find herself locked in the catacombs and spends the remainder of the movie walking through the corridors looking for an escape.
The tone of this flick is all wrong from the beginning. I was expecting a slow-moving and claustrophobic nightmare of a movie but instead it starts off with loud techno music and frenetic editing. I should have known better as Twisted Pictures is involved (the people behind the Saw franchise). Although I do not mind those flicks, the style does not work in this setting. A more subdued approach would have served this flick a lot better. As the rave takes up the first third of the movie, by the time the directors attempt to go for the feel that they should have established from the beginning, it is too late. The frantic tone set by the loudness of the first bit makes it very difficult to get into the vibe of the second half. Add to this some poor writing and you have a recipe for disaster and a wasted opportunity. I spent a lot of time just trying to wrap my head around how so many inexplicable events are occurring. Why is Victoria locked in? Why does she not seem to have an emotional reaction to her sister’s apparent death? What happened to the anxiety disorder? The examples of lazy writing are numerous.
Another thing that we all know is a bad idea is to cast a pop star in a horror flick. This is a sure sign that things are not going to go well. LL Cool J and Brandy immediately come to mind so when I realized that Alecia Moore is actually pop star Pink, I knew the movie had a big monkey on its back. If she had a more interesting character, she may have been more tolerable but I was happy that the role of bitchy, irritating sister was limited. Sossamon does her best with what she is given but there is only so much you can emote when you are walking around in circles with a flashlight. Nothing much happens in this flick, there are minimal effects, no monsters, and no suspense. I am astounded that such a great idea was made so generic and boring. The catacombs have the potential to be one of the most frightening locations to set a movie but filling them with techno music and ravers strips away the atmosphere making them more like an amusement park attraction than an underground tomb. It may have sounded good on paper but I thought people would have learned by studying the career of M. Night Shyamalan that if you are going to base an entire movie around a twist, it better be a damn good script. This one is not. (Josh Pasnak, 2/7/12)
Directed By: Tomm Coker, David Elliot.
Written By: Tomm Coker, David Elliot.
Starring: Shannyn Sossamon, Alecia Moore, Emil Hostina, Mihai Stanescu.