Dark Rising (2008)

Dark Rising ReviewReviewed by The Foywonder

Starring Landy Cannon, Jay “Christian Cage” Reso, Brigitte Kingsley, Julia Schneider, Vanessa James

Written & Directed by Andrew Cymek

From our friends in the Great White North comes Dark Rising (currently available on DVD in Canada), a shits and giggles kind of flick that once again proves that intentionally setting out to make a cult classic isn’t as easy as it looks. What we have here is a handsome-looking, low budget production with an attractive cast who seem up to the task but everyone’s hard work is scuttled by a script that comedically isn’t anywhere as hip or witty as it thinks it is and plot-wise borders on complete gibberish.

Jason (clearly the Ash of this bunch but this guy is definitely no Bruce Campbell) is our slow-witted, strong-jawed hero hung up on his ex-fiancée, Jasmine. He orchestrates a camping trip and talks his friend Marlene into convincing Jasmine to join them where he hopes to rekindle their relationship unaware that Jasmine and Marlene have been lesbian lovers for some time now. Jason being completely clueless about Jasmine’s sapphic leanings is an on-going running gag that’s never particularly funny.

Joining Jason is his best bud Ricky, a motor-mouthed motley fool who makes his living filming half-naked models for 1-900 commercials. He’s played by Jay Reso, best known to professional wrestling fans as Christian in WWE and Christian Cage in TNA; he’ll even have his own wrestling finishing maneuver used on him before it’s all over. Reso’s a total natural on film with good comedic timing, probably the best wrestler turned actor I’ve seen. Too bad his material is over-the-top imbecilic. He’s like the obnoxious best friend from a 1980’s teen sex comedy who always gives bad advice to the lead character.

In fact, the supernatural stuff doesn’t begin until after nearly a full half-hour of puerile sex jokes involving characters who are supposed to be in their late 20’s to mid-30’s talking and behaving like horny teens from a movie like Meatballs III.

Rounding out the group is geeky, wannabe wiccan Renee. She thinks it’s a good idea to bring along a spell book so they can hold a séance in the woods to contact the spirit of a young girl named Summer Vale who vanished from the small town years earlier.

Summer Vale was actually sucked into an alternate dimension by that book as a child when he father messed around with it. There she was experimented on, tortured and trained to be a battle-axe swinging huntress of demons dressed like a Valkyrie in a leather bikini.

You know even a hokey horror comedy has to at least try and make some semblance of sense. Demons, fantasy warriors, alternate dimensions, nightmarish scientific experimentation, women-in-chains, and battle-to-the-death training sequences: none of it is tied together in a coherent manner. Writer-director Andrew Cymek seemed to be operating under the assumption that just because he’s making a beer & pretzels horror comedy he doesn’t have to try and make a lick of sense out of anything he’s presenting. It gets to be rather frustrating.

Renee unwittingly opens a portal to that alternate dimension; a gore-faced Viking deadite-like demon with a wobbly puppet head shows up to kill a cast member, a demon-possessed Jasmine sets about to seduce Ricky, and Jason all but completely forgets about her the moment he feasts his eyes on the grown-up, busty, barbarian queen Summer Vale in her leather bikini. Can’t say I blame him; actress Brigitte Kingsley is drop-dead gorgeous and spends the entire movie looking quite fetching in that two-piece. She tells him of being a warrior princess looking for her predestined prince while trying to fight off an evil race of demons that plague her other-dimensional world and of the torment she had’s to endure strapped to a table and injected with whatever, which is what Renee has been dreaming about. Again, very little of it adds up.

It took me about 65-minutes to realize that Dark Rising wasn’t so much a bad movie as it was annoying. The humor is universally lame no matter how hard the actors try to milk it – a few moments even made me wince. That whimsical background music designed to punctuate the “wocka wocka” aspect of it all certainly didn’t help. The Sam Raimi-esque demon/warrior aspect does provide a few amusing moments during the last 20-minutes but not enough to salvage a stupid movie that never clicks.

Maybe I just don’t get Canadian humor.

2 out of 5

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