The Blood Stream mines the Internet for horror gold so you don’t have to, delivering streamable horror titles never before featured on Dread Central. Occasionally I’ll dredge up something good, maybe even great. To find those gems, I’ll have to sift through a lot of breathtakingly bad cinema. Enjoy!
I started this column to unearth diamonds-in-the-rough, movies horror fans might have overlooked. After this week’s selection, My Engine’s Fragile Sound, I realize I am much more likely to provide a different kind of service: warning fans away from so-called horror movies that are not only terrible, they are in fact not horror at all.
Things kick off with Gabi, a pretty nurse in a hospital burn ward tending to a severely burned pregnant woman in a coma. We’re told the woman is the latest victim of a serial killer who likes to soap up his victims before raping and torching them. Such a gruesome setup simply cannot lead anywhere but a horrific third act, right? WRONGZO.
If it were better, which is to say in any way watchable, this movie might be described as Chekhovian giallo. It has plenty of classic giallo traits: unseen killer of beautiful women, disturbing eroticism, a dogged detective, even a soaring operatic score. But the terrible murders all take place off screen. There are some graphic moments (macro lens shots of a C-section, anyone?), but by and large all the nasty horror stuff takes place before the movie begins.
So it’s not horror, which makes its marketing a complete lie. (The distributor describes it as, no joke, The Silence of the Lambs meets Se7en. There should be a special tribunal at the Hague for international fraud on that scale.) Worse, it’s just an awful, awful movie.
After some promising exposition the film devolves into a gloomy, masturbatory slog. Every interesting question is answered to death over the course of scene after pointless scene in which nothing noteworthy happens. Not exaggerating – there is a four-minute tango sequence right in the middle of the movie. FOUR. MINUTES.
The tortuous, meandering busy work that passes for a plot is alleviated only by a grotesque amount of faux poetic voiceovers. Many of these come from an unborn baby, which, um, sure. Whatever.
The tedious narration is a problem on another level. It’s not entirely the movie’s fault, but when the subtitles can’t manage to spell everything correctly or even get all the words in the right order, it’s hard to trust renderings of yammering philosophical monologues. In the translator’s defense, he nails a crucial exchange between Gabi and one of the many dudes she hooks up with. After a little smooch, Gabi asks the lucky guy, “What’s wrong?” To which he replies, “I can taste your vomit.” Me too, dude. Me too.
By about the halfway point My Engine’s Fragile Sound could have wrapped things up at any time without losing anything of value. Yet, it malingers, refusing to solve the damn mystery until after the third or fourth Keyser Soze moment, when revealing flashbacks and echoes of prior dialogue accompany yet another character fixating on yet another benign detail in a yet another photograph.
Even the ending refuses to die. Instead of a short button scene after the climactic confrontation, we get a string of ham-fisted sepia flashbacks explaining every piece of the killer’s M.O.: photography, fire, blindfolds, targeting cheating spouses, etc. Absolutely nothing is left to the imagination.
AND THEN. After all that unnecessary nonsense, even after all that, there’s still one more scene. And not just some weird little tag to deliver the twist ending, either. It’s a full-on dramatic dialogue with a weepy reckoning, foreboding revelations, string crescendos and, oh yes, EVEN MORE VOICEOVER.
For the most part the cinematography looks decent and the B-unit stuff is very pretty. But, like every positive in this movie, it’s ruined by the wacko auteur who wrote and directed the thing, Leonardo Antonio. Aiming for avant garde, he succeeds in achieving what is known in technical terms as artsy-fartsy. Excessive shadows, theatrical lighting, lethargic (fully clothed) sex scenes shot in darkness from four incongruous angles capturing a single foot, hand, nostril, etc. And during the few moments of intense action, this master of technique likes to just shake a handheld camera as hard as possible. It felt like having my brain impaled with a vibrator.
Do not, under any circumstances, watch this garbage. If you meet this director, please tell him to stop making movies. Or at least stick to short films, which for him are probably 90 to 100 minutes.
Instead, just re-watch Silence of the Lambs.
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