Weird and Pissed Off Reviews: Two Duds and a Nostalgic Gem
Movies that Can't Find Their Own Identity
Thanks to a persistent illness that refused to grant me comfort this week, it was a pretty light week for being in the right frame of mind to care about movies. I did sneak in a few, however, so don't get too worried!
This week, I finally gave a video game adaptation I'd been avoiding a shot, took a trip back to the 90s, and went for something a little more typical of the genre today. Two were completely forgettable while the other was a fun trip down memory lane!
All three warrant a lot of snark, which you get to enjoy in this volume of Weird and Pissed Off!
'The Final Wish' (2019)
Am I allowed to say I don't think Lin Shaye should have such a presence in horror movies? Beyond the Insidious franchise, she's always way over-the-top and just not fun to watch.
I wish that were my biggest gripe with The Final Wish, but it gets so much worse than a subpar supporting actress. Tack on poor editing, weird sound mixing, a cast of forgettable characters, a recycled plot, a villain pulled from the Power Ranger's universe, and the incessant need to torture the movie's "token black guy," and you have The Final Wish.
Had it been released a year earlier, I wouldn't have spent half the movie thinking, "Oh, this was done in Wish Upon. Only marginally better." Pulling inspiration from The Monkey's Paw and Wishmaster, The Final Wish revolves around a mysterious artifact that arbitrarily grants the wishes of whoever is closest to it? Has it in their possession? Acknowledges its existence? Quite frankly, I don't know because the movie didn't care to explain it. All you need to know is that the wishes it grants are bastardized and always accompanied by death.
With that little snippet, I bet you can plot the course of the movie. It's unoriginal and uninspired, a half-cocked attempt at recreating something we've already seen; but that's not its greatest fault. The editing team goes home with the Razzie for this one. Awkward cuts, weird transitions, and scenes that seem half finished turn The Final Wish into a rush job that felt like it was trying to reach some deadline.
If you have an hour and a half to spare, there are better ways to spend it than with The Final Wish. Not even Tony Todd could save any aspect of this movie.
'Dead Rising: Watchtower' (2015)
One of the biggest issues with video game movie adaptations is the inability to match what was so enjoyable about the source material. For Dead Rising, it was all about decimating zombies with oddball objects and homemade weapons. It's not that hard to recreate, but somehow the movie iteration stumbles hard.
Dead Rising: Watchtower takes no issue in showing how illogical and clunky some of the in-game weapons would be in real life, and it doesn't help the movie at all. When a fan turns on a Dead Rising movie, they want to see two chainsaws attached to oars and they want it to be wielded flawlessly.
When you set out to make an on-screen adaptation of something fun, you don't swap the more enjoyable bits in favor of realism. Especially in a zombie movie, where realism checked out after the first 15 minutes.
Looking beyond Watchtower's weird need to scoff at a popular mechanic of the series, you're left with a zombie movie that tries really hard to be appealing to fans. Really, really hard.
Action segments are awkwardly divided up with a newsroom interview with Frank West, played by Rob Riggle. They're awful sequences that make you wish West perished in Willamette. He's a misogynistic, loudmouthed asshole that's trying to do his best arrogant Ashley J. Williams impression. Any of the character progression West underwent throughout the series is tossed out the window for the sake of laughs and to give fans some semblance of a video game tie-in.
At the helm of Watchtower is Jesse Metcalfe, who is enjoyable to watch, but no amount of decent acting could save this adaptation. As much as people didn't enjoy Dead Rising 4, I'd recommend playing 20 hours of that over sitting through 118 minutes of neutered zombies and CGI blood.
Why are we still doing CGI blood, by the way?
'Urban Legend' (1998)
There are horror movies from the 90s that reek of the generation and most of them fall within the slasher genre. Urban Legend is no exception.
It took me a minute to get past the very-90s writing and generic plot structure, but when I did, I found the movie easy to have fun with despite some of its glaring faults.
Robert Englund was a master of guest appearances even in the 90s and his role in Urban Legend is welcomed. Pivotal to the central plot, he's used to divert attention from the very obvious twist that's looming ahead.
As the urban legend-inspired kills rack up, the movie wants you to focus on Englund, but it's impossible to ignore the blatant setup that near mimics I Know What You Did Last Summer. In fact, the more I think of it, Urban Legend is just a retooling of Jim Gillespie's 1997 slasher with more creative kills.
Urban Legend was mostly fun, especially for someone that grew up hearing updated versions of the common legends. I would have appreciated more, but for the scope of the film, it felt like a decent amount of clever kills framed in iconic lore.
It was a fun trip back to the 90s, but Urban Legend could have benefited from a few tweaks, a better script, a livelier lead, and a much more solid ending.