I finally got around to checking out Danny Boyle’s crack at a survival (horror?) movie. Boyle, one of my favorite directors, always seems to come up with a new or inventive way of telling a story and typically stays away from doing a genre more than once. Think about it. Trainspotting to 28 Days Later to Sunshine to Slumdog Millionaire – the guy likes to mix it up. And he usually does with fantastic results. So yeah, after a couple months of nearly seeing this film, tonight was the night.
This is another in a rash of films in 2010 that are essentially one set survival pieces (Devil, Frozen, Buried) and, quite frankly, isn’t as interesting to watch as any of the others. Please don’t kill me. According to IMDB (and their esteemed voters…haha) this movie rates over an 8 (at the time of publishing). Really? That puts it in company with the likes of The Shinning, Oldboy, and The Exorcist (in the horror / thriller genre anyway). Puuhh-leaasse!
The plot is simple: James Franco falls into a canyon trapping his arm under a large rock. That’s it. After an opening scene (all based on a true story) involving a little bit of foreshadowing – really could have used that Swiss Army knife – Franco plops right into an incredibly dire situation.
What follows is a series of events that at times are monotonous and somehow make a 90 minute film feel like 2 ½ hours. And that is the film’s biggest weakness; Boyle (the writers, etc) seemingly felt the urge to pad the heck out of this thing in order to get a longer running time. Unfortunately, since they were going off a true story AND wanted to keep it realistic nothing much happened. Other films within this genre certainly benefited from being able to make up random events. What’s the worst thing that can happen now? Well, Frozen had the wolves; Buried has a snake – both plot devices that (while they can be seen as cheesy) added a few extra minutes of terror. Here Franco is left on his own with only his imagination.
The parts where Franco is creating a fake radio show or dreaming about Scooby Doo are quite funny. The dude can certainly act and does so convincingly. These scenes though, whether he is hallucinating or not, end up being tediously long. And even though this is a true story it’s still supposed to be entertaining.
The music seems like some holdover crap that was in Boyle’s Slumdog Box ‘O Leftover Junk. I kept thinking to myself, “Why in the heck is a movie about an American hiker in Utah constantly featuring music from India?” Boyle also gets carried away with some stylized shots of the inner workings of things like cameras, or straws. It’s like an episode of How It’s Made – Boylized. As you can guess, it seems out of place in a raw, visceral film like this one is (or at least a film that was billed as one).
Of course, there is THE SCENE. And it is gross and will certainly make many a person cringe in disgust. Early on there were reports about ambulances waiting nearby screenings of the film because individuals were passing out after witnessing THE SCENE. Marketing ploy or real? You be the judge. Either way it’s always best to leave a note.
Snore Factor: ZZZ