A serial killer to end all serial killers is caught and electrocuted but survives and comes back to seek revenge. That's the basic plotline.
Let me start off the review by saying this movie is Meh. It's not Blech for two reason. First off, there are a couple of excellent camera shots torwards the beginning with the cops searching the house. Secondly, Boll throws a little bit of earnestness into the movie that helps to give it heart. These things stop me from giving it a Blech, but there is no way in my mind that it can crawl above a Meh.
It violates some of my biggest rules for what I want to see in horror. First off, don't do something dumb or contradictory just to move the plot along. More on this in a second, because is one of my big beefs. Don't throw in gore just to say you did. Make the gore work for the plot, not the plot work around the gore. And don't use CG effects to carry out a scene when dim lighting and a few househould ingredients can make it just as realistic if not more so.
The last two have a few violations, the fake gore more than the unnecessary gore. The gore in the last half of the movie is very, very fake. The infamous hatchet scene is generated by computers and it looks it. It does not frighten me, nor disgust me, nor thrill me. It does not interest me to see a man in a mask beat a computer generated head around for five minutes. The same general effect could have been carried out by having the camera slightly off the woman's head and then having gore splatter up as you hear screams degrade into moans into sputters into nothing. By showing it, he ruined it. The same is true of a "kick the head through prison bars" scene. The overall idea behind the scene works, even if the "cornholing" scene it bookends doesn't, but the effect is marred by an obvious cheap effect with the right half of the guard's face looking like something out of a 2002 era videogame.
Now to go back to where the movie irritated me, oh so much. In order to get through the first hour (of the hour and a half film), you have to accept a few major plot points despite their idiocy:
Those are just too many dumb things for me to take this movie seriously. Even if the gore worked. Even if the poorly effected deomposition scenes didn't take forever. Even if there was any way to believe that a man dressed like that and wearing that mask can get around anywhere without attracting immediate attention (and is allowed to wear that mask in jail). Even if all those things were true, this movie would still have to deal with the breaks in internal logic. It uses them to move the story forward, but they mostly just drive any sensible movie goer out of the experience. As much as I wanted to be tensed up at the cops in a dark house scene, the fact that it would never happen like that just stopped me from caring.
Oh, and to answer a couple of questions. Yes, this is one of his best films. If you watched any of his other horror movies and liked them, then try this one. If nothing else, it has some heart to it. Also, yes there are real scenes of animal torture at the beginning (archived footage). They are pretty rough. About ten times worse than anything that happens in this movie from then on. No, they don't really help the movie in any way. They just sit there to freak you out, and then help to insure that every gore scene after that feels fake. No, the gore is not the reason why critics are bashing this movie. No, gore fans will not be pushed the brink. Outside of the "animal skinned alive" scene at the beginning, I barely blinked at the overwrought cinema blood. Yes, in some ways, it is worth seeing.
Only really recommended to those who can take indie horror, low budget schlock, have a thing for Uwe Boll, or want to movie to watch with friends while drinking. I'm actually interested in seeing his movies after this one, because he seems to be getting better. Overall, though,would not recommend in the least to the average movie goer. It is Meh and deserves that Meh.
Written by W Doug Bolden
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