Telling, The (2009)

The TellingReviewed by The Foywonder

Starring Holly Madison, Bridget Marquardt, Sara-Jean Underwood, Jean Louise O’Sullivan, Rebekah Kochan

Directed by Harry Grigby & Nicholas Carpenter

The Telling — an anthology horror flick shot primarily at the Playboy Mansion starring Playmates Holly Madison, Bridget Marquardt, and Sara-Jean Underwood of the Playboy reality series “The Girls Next Door”. Potential alternate titles the producers should have considered:

Bunny Tails from the Crypt
The Outer Cleavage
The Silicone Zone
Tales from the Airbrushed Side
Night Centerfold
Hefner’s House of Horror

Oh, wait. One major problem going with any of those alternate titles – none of those Playmates take their clothes off. Playboy Playmates hired for their acting skills? It would seem so. There is a little nudity but none of it comes from the “Girls Next Door”. The Telling is available in both rated and unrated versions and I’ll be damned if I know why. It’s not even all that gory either.

What we have here are three superficial tales of alleged terror that wouldn’t even pass muster as the very worst episode of “Monsters”. Not scary in the slightest. Not all that salacious either despite promises of an unrated version. Unrated for what? The only true entertainment value stems from the frequently over-the-top acting and marveling at the sheer inanity of the short stories being told.

Three girls are pledging Omega Kappa Kappa, the sexiest, bitchiest, most stuck-up sorority on campus led by the way-too-old-to-still-be-in-college Holly Madison. Sorority or “hor-rority”; the girls’ final test to gain acceptance is to impress the conceited Omega Kappas by telling them a scary story. No, seriously. No pajama pillow fights. No lesbian make-out sessions. No locking them in a car trunk with bottles of hard liquor. Just gather together in the dimly lit den with their tributes of wine and cookies and make-up a scary campfire story.

The first girl tells a tale about a guy who brings an antique doll home that looks like a red-headed Bellatrix Lestrange porcelain doll. He also brings home his attractive British ex-girlfriend raising the ire of his current girlfriend, Lily. The seemingly innocuous talking doll goes from saying stuff like “I think I love you” to “I want him all to myself” and “Don’t put your hands where they don’t belong, skank.” As Lily goes from justifiably jealous to insanely screaming like a banshee in no time flat, this segment almost becomes as funny as that “Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror” episode with the cursed talking Krusty the Klown doll that wanted to kill Homer.

The second pledges’ story is shot in black & white as an homage to 1940’s horror films. That’s all it has in common with 1940’s horror films. A floundering movie starlet travels to Romania to do her first ever horror film, meeting with the creepy director and his midget man servant in a remote castle. A glass of Absinthe causes her to hallucinate what appeared to be someone’s amateur softcore sex tape shot at a fantasy fetish convention. I won’t reveal what it all leads to other than to reveal that even the Omega Kappa Kappa’s agree afterwards that this tale sucked.

The third pledge’s story involves three shallow girls who think it would be fun to crank call people. That is until they overhear a murder on the other end of the phone and the killer uses caller ID to let them know that he knows that they know and they better not tell anyone that they know what they know. Things take a bit of a slasher turn but I doubt enough of one to satisfy even the least discerning slasher movie fans.

Three short stories, plus multiple wraparound segments, as well as a pre-title prologue, and the closing credits begin rolling at the 75-minute mark; suffice to say not a single one of these vignettes are given sufficient enough time to develop and thus every minute of The Telling ends up feeling pointless. I’m afraid glossy cinematography and a couple of hot girls do not a non-porn movie make.

We don’t even get the pleasure of Hugh Hefner hosting the show as a horny corpse-like host known as The Titkeeper.

1 1/2 out of 5

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  • Rorschach

    What kind of world are we living in when Jim Wynorski can deliver a better skin-fest, Z-grade sexploitation flick than fucking PLAYBOY?!?!

    Time to pack it in, Hef. You’ve gone limp.

    And from the sounds of things, this film fails in every way that it could. It’s a non-frightening horror film, has little to no nudity for a skin-flick, and it’s not very exciting, for a thriller either.