MOVIE: Dark Reel (2007)

I picked this one up the other day at my local video store after reading a review on the back of the box (I forget from where) that said this was the reviewer’s favorite horror movie of 2007.  I know, I know!  You should never trust reviews on books OR boxes.   But I figured if it was someone who liked bad horror movies and he liked this one the best out of all the bad horror movies he’d seen in 2007, it couldn’t be that terrible.  Or, if it was, it might at least be fun-terrible, right?


This movie actually starts out sort of good (relatively speaking), with a black-and-white scene set in the 1950’s that featured a dude picking up a gorgeous blonde at a bar, tantalizing her with an offer to shoot her in a screen test for his production company.  Because she’s dumb as a sack of Palins, she’s all, “That sounds great!” even though his “production company” is in an abandoned warehouse and he wants to shoot her “screen test” at 2 o’clock in the morning.  Hello, red flag!  Good gracious, lady, did your mother teach you nothing?

In any case, naturally, he turns out to be a serial killer and while she scream-queens it up, he hacks her into little pieces with a machete or somesuch, letting the blood from her dismembered limb shoot out in spurts all over her face.  Now wait, I know — that sounds totally gross.  But it’s not!    The violence in this scene was classic camp; what it made me think of were old horror movies I’d seen as a kid, before people had a general understanding of arterial blood spatter from watching too many episodes of CSI.   Seemed sort of promising, really.  If this was going to be a campy spoof of old slasher movies, I could be in for a pretty good time.

After the opening credits roll, we rejoin the story 53 years later with a down-and-out guy (Edward Furlong) who recently moved to LA with his girlfriend only to be immediately dumped for someone cooler and more likely to make it big.  Despairing, he spies a flyer taped to his pizza box  advertising a walk-on role in a new horror movie to the person who writes the best essay about why the horror genre rules.  He promptly fills it out, and the next thing he knows, he’s gotten the call of victory.

His movie ends up being a hokey pirate adventure thing made by the same company whose previous picture, Gnome Killer, he’d just been watching a few nights before (Gnome Killer was hilarious, by the way — we get to see a few scenes of it ourselves and it had me laughing out loud, which again gave me some hope for this film.  “Oh gnoooooome!” one of the characters cries out in terror — for that line alone, I’d slap down four bucks for a rental).  Most of the cast treats him like the peon contest winner he is, but the movie’s buxom saucy wench, Cassie Blue (she of Gnome Killer fame!) takes a shine to him.  She’s way, way out of his league, but lucky for Edward Furlong, she appears to find washed up T2 stars who look like they’re coming down from a six-week methamphetamine binge totally sexy.  Go figure.

Of course, this is a horror movie, so before the pirate director can rack up many completed reels, bodies start piling up under the mainsail and reports of a ghost of a mysterious blonde woman begin to roll in.

From there, you can pretty much write the rest of it yourself, no doubt, and you’ll probably do a much, much better job of it than these guys did.  Here’ s a hint: someone on the set is the original killer of the original blonde and someone else is her son, there to get revenge.   Blah blah headless corpses blah blah chop chop blah blah scream scream blah blah blah.

The primary problem I had with this movie is that while it had a couple of decent-enough moments of intentional camp and humor, it didn’t take that campy humor far enough.  It’s not successful as a comedy, and it’s absolutely ridiculous as a horror movie.  Instead, it got stuck somewhere in between, which is a bad, bad place to be.  I think it was also trying to parody the crazy world of film making (check out the sound guy, for example, who whoops with batty joy every time he successfully shoots a scene with “no reverb!”), but it got too hung up on also trying to be “scary” and didn’t go over the top enough with its over-the-top-ness.

It’s also at least 30 minutes too long, jam-packed with some of the most tedious filler in the history of tedious filler.   It took forever to get going, and once finally rolling, took forever to end (felt like!).  The only thing about this horror movie I found even remotely horrifying was when, in an online interview, director Josh Eisenstadt said he had been forced to cut dozens of scenes from the film and wished he could’ve kept them all in.  Truly the stuff of nightmares, sir.

Furlong has to be one of the most consistently boring actors I have ever encountered, by the way, and as he gets older and is relegated to more and more crap like this, you can see his career’s failings taking a huge toll on his appearance and drive.  He was sleepwalking through this entire picture, only energized when he finally got to make out with Tiffany Shepis, that poor dear.  Time for him to retire and find something else to do with himself, because acting is simply not gonna be it.

And Henriksen, argh.  I love him, and I still love him, and I will always love him.  But, well, let’s just say he ought to do us all a favor and stick to movies about Sasquatches and Yetis (or Sasquatch-Yetis, for that matter, like in Abominable).

Major, major stinker.  Don’t read the box, whatever you do:   TRAP!

[Netflix it | Buy it if you have $20 to set on fire and are too dumb to listen to what I just told you, GOD SERIOUSLY]

Genre:  Horror, Crap
Cast:  Lance Henriksen, Edward Fulong, Tiffany Shepis, Rena Riffel, Tony Todd

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One Response to “MOVIE: Dark Reel (2007)”

  1. Liz Says:

    Just another example of packaging of a movie leading one astray. Boy, can I relate! Also, I LOVE that line “Oh, gno-o-o-o-ome!”, and agree that it alone would almost be worth the rental fee of the movie!

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