Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Final Draft

(2007) **1/2
"Deep down clowns don't like being laughed at." 
James Van Der Beek stars as Paul Twist, a depressed author struggling with writer’s block. One night he has a bizarre dream where he witnesses a clown performing a fire breathing stunt - only the flames blow back into the clown's face, causing his makeup and hair to catch fire. Assuming its part of the act, the audience laughs while the entertainer burns to death before their very eyes. Admit it – that is pretty hilarious.

Dawson (he’s referred to as “Twist” in the movie but that’s downright stupid) finds inspiration in his dream and decides to literally lock himself into his apartment for a weekend so that he may devote all of his time and energy to his novel. He utilizes Punchy the Clown to murder characters that represent people who hurt him in the past. A combination of stress, isolation and loneliness leads to the blurring of reality. Either Punchy the Clown really exists and wants him dead or he is going mad.

Ahhh, Punchy the Clown. Great name, great look. A vintage hobo style clown, Punchy doesn’t need big ugly shoes and bright colors to get your attention. He doesn't get much screen time which is good because it makes his brief appearances more memorable but bad because it means less evil clown and more time spent on non-clown-related activity.

'Descent to madness' movies tend to annoy me. They always begin with subtle odd behavior, in this case talking to a calendar, then something unexpectedly terrifying appears accompanied by a loud sound. Cut to the dude just sitting there, all freaked out. Did that really happen? Repeat, repeat, repeat until it’s time to call the loony bin. Whoops, too late.

I should probably mention that Dawson's wife left him because that is the foundation and focus of the movie. I sympathized to an extent but the longer it continued on, the more bored and sad I became. I’m not sure if it was intended but his ex-wife comes across as miserable and incessantly argumentative. I hoped in vain that somebody would shake him and convince him that he’s better off without her.

Van Der Beek does surprisingly well in a role that requires legitimate acting skills. Punchy’s pranks packed a punch but the plot plodded poopily. The overabundance of cheap scares and the burden of having to watch an unhappy person go crazy keeps it under the three star mark but the solid acting and classy clown makeup made it worthwhile for me.


Crystal Math said...

"'Descent to madness' movies tend to annoy me."

I can totally understand why -- if it's coming from a place of pain and hopelessness it can be a real downer. But I feel just the opposite: I think they're amazing character studies and, if it's not too bold to say, a dark but lovely portrait of humanity.

Johnny Sweatpants said...

Don't get me wrong - I love the idea of descent to madness horror films but too often they degenerate into the scary but it's not real but maybe it is formula which is what really ruffles my feathers. Despite my lackluster review I really enjoyed this movie (but wouldn't recommend it).

Crystal Math said...

Your reverse-psychology is working and now I wanna see it!!

DCD said...

I kind of can't believe that Van Der Beek was really that good!

Octopunk said...

"Punchy’s pranks packed a punch but the plot plodded poopily." Yes to this.

The repetitive shtick you're talking about gets used to death in some of the Hellraiser movies. A series of demented scenes that each end with a version of "and then I woke up." Dreadful that thinks it's clever.