Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Eli Roth, Henry Thomas, Kevin Corrigan, Elena Satine, Daniela Sea, Reshad Strik
Directed by Fruit Chan
Distributed by E1 Entertainment
When I first watched the trailer for Fruit Chan’s English language remake of the J-Horror classic Joyu-rei, the only thought that raced through my mind was, “SOLD”! Sadly, after seeing the final product, I’m suffering from a bit of buyer’s remorse. We’ll get to that in a second. First the nitty gritty.
Led by his paranormal visions, director Marcus Reed (Strik) heads to Romania to shoot a horror remake based on an ancient curse gone horribly wrong involving a demon, an old woman and a young girl who is home to the demon’s seed. A seed that when carried to term yields results about as far away from natural childbirth as you could possibly get. Reed is dead set on remaking an unfinished movie from the Twenties in which the entire original crew met with horrible fates thanks to the vengeful spirit of the aforementioned demon seed carrier. Once on location with cameras rolling, his current crew members begin dropping like flies (hundreds and hundreds of flies, most of which are CGI) because the evil spirit is back and more pissed off than ever.
At least that’s the gist of it. Truth be told, the storyline is pretty convoluted, but when it comes to J-Horror, we’re used to things not being crystal clear. That aside Don’t Look Up has a much bigger problem than its shifty plot — actor Reshad Strik. Simply put, the guy’s performance is as one-dimensional as they come and usually involves him doing little more than standing around looking shocked with his mouth agape. No matter what’s going on that’s spooky or tension filled, he’s right there ready to snap you out of the action. If his portrayal didn’t bring the whole experience down as much as it did, this situation would be laughable. Maybe it had something to do with him being a Brit and trying to pull off an American accent. Who knows? The only thing that’s certain is that this dude practically kills the whole movie.
What saves it, you ask? Three words — director Fruit Chan. You should be familiar with Fruit thanks to the psychotic little film Dumplings. If not, go find it IMMEDIATELY. This guy knows how to push both boundaries and buttons, and if it weren’t for his keen eye and insane imagination, this flick wouldn’t have even made it near the mediocre point. Henry Thomas also does his fair share to elevate things.
The deaths are pretty good, there are a few simply wince-inducing moments and like in all good J-Horror flicks, fetuses are tossed around with reckless abandon. If you can deal with the copious amount of CGI flies, are willing to sit through a train wreck of a performance from the lead and can look past some weird tonal shifts during the third act, you’ll come away at least semi-satisfied. Though I have to admit — at several points during the flick that will seem like a pretty tall order.
E1 Entertainment has given this film both the Blu-ray (yes, it looks and sounds better; you should know this by now) and the DVD treatment. No matter which package you pick, you’ll be doing okay since both are home to the same extras. Speaking of which …
We get a very good making-of featurette that not only kept me watching but made me appreciate exactly what they were trying to do here a hell of a lot more. Color me surprised because I didn’t think that could have been possible. Also included is some standard behind-the-scenes footage from the set. Competent, but certainly nothing above and beyond.
Don’t Look Up is a very Asian film sprinkled with American flavor that never quite rises to the occasion that it should have. Not even the most powerhouse of directors can save a movie if its actors aren’t up to snuff, but wow does Fruit give it a go. If you’re a fan of Chan’s films, then this is a must-see flick if only for a sampling of just how visionary he can be. Everyone else may not want to look up, down, left, right, or at all for that matter.
2 1/2 out of 5
2 1/2 out of 5