It Waits (DVD)
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Starring Cerina Vincent, Dominic Zamprogna, Greg Kean, Eric Schweig, Samaya Jardey, Miranda Frigon, Tinsel Korey, and Fred Henderson
Directed by Steven R. Monroe
Distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment
Some of my favorite films of all time have starred an it. Who could forget the genesis for the classic film Alien, It! The Terror From Beyond Space, or the 1956 classic It Conquered the World? Do I have to even mention Stephen King's It? I don't think so. Cinematically speaking for genre fans there is only one true definition of an it, and thankfully it usually turns out to be some kind of monster. Some have been hokey looking like the carrot creature from the aforementioned It Conquered the World, while others have been deadly and, dare I say it, pretty friggin' scary. Well get ready, monster fans, because there is a new it on the block; and believe me when I tell you this latest creature is nothing short of a depraved and sadistic demonic force of nature.
Meet Danny St. Claire (Cerina Cabin Fever Vincent). After a grueling car accident that took the life of her best friend, she has decided to get away from it all by taking a job as a forest ranger in charge of a fairly isolated outpost deep within the woods. The poor kid has suffered some really tough breaks and just needs time to exorcise her own personal demons. Little does she know that a few months earlier some students on an archaeological expedition discovered and blew open a cave that had been housing a demon all its own. Needless to say, they ended up being meat for the beast, and soon Danny and her friends find themselves next on the menu. That's the setup for It Waits, and sure it's nothing groundbreaking, but hey, this is a monster movie, baby! We don't need to reinvent the wheel; we just need it to roll along a bloody path of carnage. It Waits does just that and winds up being a fairly fun ride, but be warned: There are a few minor bumps along the way.
For me, and I'm sure most horror fans, the scariest thing about It Waits will come before we even put in the DVD. Sure there's a badass looking monster on the cover, but will that equate into the usual low budget CGI mess that we're unfortunately used to? I bit my lip, said a quick prayer, and popped the flick in. Praise be the rubber-suited gods! There is CGI, but it's minimal, and for the most part the creature of It Waits struts its stuff in full physical prosthetic geared glory. Let's hang onto that thought for a moment, shall we? No lame cartoonish monster. Guy in a fucking cool monster suit. No lame cartoonish monster. Guy in a fucking cool monster suit. Ahhhh. What could make this better? How about some splatter? While not a blood bath by any means, It Waits does have its fair share of violence, but most of it takes place after the fact. In the end what we get are mangled bodies aplenty but little onscreen flesh-ripping mayhem. I attribute this mostly to the fact that a lot of the film's budget went into making the monster as badass as possible, so I'm completely cool with that. I'm sure you will be too.
Besides its looks, there are a few other things that set the creature apart from other recent monster films, the main of which is that this is no dumb bloodthirsty animal. The big bad here is not only cold and calculating, but it gets its rocks off while watching its victims suffer before they die. It studies its prey and finds out what will hurt them the most mentally. With knowledge in hand -- or in this case, claw -- it then exploits newfound weaknesses before bringing its crescendo of brutality down upon its victims' skulls. Very cool stuff.
So, what about those bumps I mentioned along the way? It Waits does indeed suffer a couple of pitfalls. Truth be told, at times it gets a bit schmaltzy. While the movie is for the most part smartly written and competently acted, there are moments when the calmer situations in the film come off as whiney and unnecessary. Especially the sex scene. R-rated sex scenes can be about as stimulating to watch as checking out Barbara Eden as Jeanie prancing around in her silky outfit. You know, you want to rub the bottle to let her out, but once she's there nothing really fun happens. Why bother? To make matters even worse, there's not a single bit of nudity, and this scene and other more tame tidbits are set to some really ill-fitting warbling by director Steven R. Monroe's wife. Don't get me wrong; she has a beautiful voice and the music in and of itself is not bad. It just doesn't feel like it's supposed to be there. You have to see it to really get the gist of what I am saying.
On the DVD side of things we get your standard decent package. There's an insightful yet brief making-of titled Blood on the Pines which explores not only the filming of It Waits but also the actual American Indian legend surrounding the demon's origins. Couple that with a very lively commentary and of course a gallery of trailers, and voila! Instant DVD release. Considering this was the second in a list of films coming from IDT Entertainment and legendary producer Stephen J. Cannell (check out an interview and a review of the first film, Demon Hunter, in the Related To field below), I expected a bit more. Still, what's here is good so long as you don't expect anything above and beyond.
If you're a big-time monster movie fan or just someone looking for a fun time, It Waits is a good bet to fulfill your needs. The monster rocks, the direction is pretty slick, and the acting all things considered is spot on. Just be sure to keep the DVD remote handy for the few eye-rolling sequences. You'll know they're coming as soon as you hear an angelic voice start singing. How's that for a warning sign?
Audio commentary with director Steven R. Monroe and star Cerina Vincent
Blood on the Pines making-of featurette
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