Starring Bobbie Jo Westphal, Michael Hawkins-Burgos, Jeff Lee, Angela Kane
Directed by Doug Evans and Michael Hawkins-Bugos
Distributed by Lion Gate Home Entertainment
Without a doubt Lions Gate is the independent horror filmmaker’s best friend. If you’ve made a movie that has even the slightest bit of redeeming value, then there’s a good possibility it will see the light of day at your neighborhood video rental store under the Lions Gate Home Entertainment banner. Whether or not that’s ultimately in the best interest of the horror fan is anyone’s guess, but in the case of Heebie Jeebies, I’d say definitely this one could have stayed on a shelf in the dark.
Entertaining this film is not. Tedious and convoluted is more like it. Heebie Jeebies tells the tale of four old friends who are summoned to an abandoned, run-down house for what they believe is a reunion party. There’s also one more participant on the way, but luckily for her, she doesn’t arrive until the final few minutes of the film. The actual reason for the gathering is that Cassandra, who invited everyone to the festivities, has been having dreams about them – dreams in which they are all murdered. The last time she had such visions, her mother died, so she is determined to do all she can to change fate. Fate, of course, has other ideas.
On paper Heebie Jeebies sounds great. It has its main story at the house, but then as Cassandra tells the members of the group about her dreams involving each of them, it turns into an anthology of sorts. In all but one case, the dreams are much more interesting than the wrap-around. Each character leads a double life – one in the film itself and one in his or her dream. And the cast is more than up to the task. They all look normal instead of having that too pretty sheen that’s all the rage these days, and their acting skills range from acceptable to quite good, the best being Alice’s brother. But somewhere along the way things go awry. It could be that the two credited directors each had his own vision for the film, and they didn’t complement each other. Or it could just be that the script was in need of a major overhaul along with a new editor; some scenes were beyond interminable. Whatever the problem, I frankly didn’t care about any the characters with the exception of my desire to see them die already. Speaking of which, the deaths are about the only thing Heebie Jeebies has going for it, but that alone does not a good movie make. Good movies contain ingenuity and structure, two qualities sadly lacking in Heebie Jeebies. Granted, it throws out a few pretty good red herring clues as to the killer’s identity, but by the end of the film, it hardly matters.
Interestingly enough, there is no mention of Heebie Jeebies on the IMDB, which is certainly not much of a show of confidence by either the producers or the distributor. Nor are there any particularly appealing extras on the disc. We get a blooper reel, some deleted scenes that did no one any favors by being seen, and a few trailers. I pretty much knew I was in trouble from the get-go when I saw that “Scene Selection” and “Subtitles On and Off” were included as bonus features.
2005 Has certainly been a mixed-bag when it comes to the slasher subgenre with Heebie Jeebies down on the lower rungs of the ladder. My advice is to save the rental fee and buy some stocking stuffers instead. But do keep an eye on the main cast members. With a better script and some solid direction, they just might make that oh so elusive leap into the mainstream where they belong.
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