Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Attic

Welcome back Sporefans. Spring has arrived, and with it a fresh new crop of reviews. I use that metaphor because if you know how mushrooms are grown, you know what you're about to get into here at Spored to Death Publishing.

This evening we'll be reviewing The Attic, a movie released in 2008 which I caught on the "Chiller" channel, a subsidiary of the SciFi channel, so you know its got to be a kwality film. I will admit that the Chiller channel has featured a few movies that I thought were surprisingly good.

This isn't one of them.

The Attic is about a young woman named Emma Callan (played by Elisabeth Moss) and her family, who have recently moved into a house fairly far away from other people. Emma becomes agoraphobic soon after moving into the house and sees a girl who looks like her lurking about the attic. The movie follows Emma on her descent into "madness" as she attempts to discover the identity of her mysterious doppelganger.

All of this sounds like a stock horror movie plot, and I've seen movies that worked with overused premises before that turned out to be fairly watchable, but not very original movies. Unfortunately, this movie suffers from some serious flaws. I will attempt to cover these problems without revealing too much of the movie for you Sporefans who want to watch this film, but I'm going to recommend you spend two hours with another movie because the flaws in The Attic far outweigh any redeeming value the movie might have.

Plus it might be full of asbestos.

Somewhere... in the attic... is where the rest of this girl's clothes are.

Don't bother getting them, we're enjoying the show.

The most glaring problem early in the movie is that there really is only one important character in the film: Emma. All of the other characters only serve to highlight how important Emma is. When Emma first shows signs of agoraphobia and anorexia the other members of her family fixate on her with almost laser-like attention. Her father, mother and brother all constantly comment on how much weight she's lost and how she isn't going to her classes at the local college. None of them seem particularly upset in the beginning, as Emma has not yet plunged into the shallow, dark well of insanity (trust me, the well of insanity is not deep in this movie); but their attention is both obvious and overdone.

Imagine being a rich and powerful person on a private jet, surrounded by three flight attendants who got paid based on how much service they provided you... and it was a competition... only they're not sexy flight attendants. Ever see the movie Glenngary Glen Ross, or read the book by David Mamet? Well imagine the competition from that story as the motivation for these metaphorical flight attendants: First place gets a new car, second place gets a set of steak knifes, everyone else is fired. If you think that might be a bit too much attention, then imagine watching the familial version of it on screen.

You can see where this might be a hindrance to the film.

Lets rate the effectiveness of the three family members to see which ones get the prizes and which ones get fired.

Of the three characters Emma's father Graham (played by John Savage) is the one who would walk away without a job. Graham's character appears to be some sort of foil for Emma, an obstacle that she needs to overcome. He's alternatively angry and concerned about her well being; first reassuring her that she'll be taken care of and later trying to shove food in her mouth. However there's something about how Graham is portrayed that makes him seem ridiculous. Perhaps its the over the top dialogue and scenes where he's infuriated with his daughter. Perhaps its the character's love of sweaters that undoes his belligerent treatment of Emma. No matter how its sliced, he gets the pink slip.

Graham's encounter with the attic left him horrified of kittens. He watches them circle outside his home... mewling... waiting... TO POUNCE!

Emma's mother Kim (played by Catherine Mary Stewart) gets the steak knives. Sure, she's not on screen much, and when she is she's mostly in the background; but compared to her spouse Kim gets the upper hand by not annoying the crap out of the audience. Good job!

Kim drinks because of the attic. I think we all drink because of The Attic.

The means that Emma's mentally handicapped brother Frankie gets the new car. The actor who plays Frankie does a very good job of portraying his character; despite the subtle hint of inappropriate feelings that he seems to have for his sister. The character has a few lines of dialogue about how "pretty" Emma is, which pop up too often just to be the routine compliment, lending him a slightly creepy quality. However, sometimes winning isn't always as desirable as it appears to be.

You see, Frankie is played by Tom Malloy. The same Tom Malloy that wrote the original story for this movie. The same Tom Malloy that co-wrote the screenplay. The same Tom Malloy that helped produce this movie. I won't go as far as to say that Mr. Malloy plays a mentally handicapped person well because he's mentally handicapped. That would be insulting to mentally handicapped people. I will say that he should stick to acting, as he Apodacas this movie into the ground. Its not good to be the flight attendant that Apodacas a metaphorical movie/plane into the cold, hard, unyielding earth; but at least it will provide food for fungus.

No Tom, you can't blame anyone else for this one. You are the one who clearly "dealt it".

The metaphorical nosedive isn't just because of the three support character's inability to do anything on screen that doesn't involve Emma. This is merely the movie's earliest symptoms of "teh suck", and show up as early as 10 minutes into the film. The remainder of the problem with the movie is that it feels like it was written by a twelve year old girl. The palpable angst that drives Emma to find out about her ghostly visitor, reject her family and lash out at the psychiatrist who conveniently specializes in agoraphobia really drive home that rebellious teen spirit that makes young teenage girls date boys that their fathers would hate and get their belly buttons pierced.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that Tom Malloy is a twelve year old girl. I'm just saying that he writes like one.

And still there's more. I don't want to ruin anything for anyone who, despite my warnings, still want to see this movie. If you're concerned about that sort of thing, you might want to stop reading. For those of you who are curious, or who don't care...


You know Graham, this is all your fault. You and your "haunted sperm".

Mother was right about you.

Let's just say that there's a certain, obviously incorporeal character in the movie who plays an important part in the plot. He may be imaginary, hallucinatory or just a ghost. And toward the end of the movie said incorporeal character (who has interacted with objects before, but again Emma might just be crazy. Remember the end to Fight Club?), someone who is less than real produces an object that Emma uses in the final sequence of the film. I don't want to give away too much, but lets just say that this object, one that's hard to come by in the real world, helps Emma kill certain members of her family. With bullets.

Yeah, its a bit of a plot hole. One that easily could have been fixed with a little creative writing. Still, twelve year old girls are not really known for their creativity. Now angst... that they've got in spades!

Here's the trailer for The Attic. Its amusingly bad. Enjoy!


blackcloud said...

Is "from the director or Pet Cemetery" even something to be proud of? And I loved the zim thing!

esuarez said...

From the director of pet cemetery 2 is something to be proud of.