You ask for this:
You get this:
So, what do we get instead of some weeping angel slasher stuff?
The movie starts with some guy trying to throttle a woman. He wants her to confess something, confirm his paranoid delusions but even the most obliging co-conspirator needs an uncrushed windpipe to do so. Despite several of crazy guy's pals arguing vociferiously on this score, it doesn't go well but after thirty seconds of unerotic auto asphyxiation we cut to...
Americans! On a road trip! Arguing about the merits of country and western music! Dear god, when does the strangling start - there was a time that "realistic characterization" didn't consist of "five year olds having petty arguments that conveniently prevent you learning anything about the plot except the characters are fuckwits who deserve to die." I'll prove it. Watch the next five minutes and see what I learn.
OK... I haven't learnt much. There is a car with County-and-Western fan trying to impress his girlfriend and her brother and failing at both. There is a SECOND car with a passive-aggressive git who is carpooling with Owen Wilson and his carsick wife. While the latter is caked in unseen vomit and the former in unseen urine, we see a THIRD car with a geek girl in glasses and her oh-so-cool stoner pal who are on their way from some HBO sitcom to smoke pinecones at the taxpayer's expense. Apparently none of these groups have much understanding of the laws of fuel consumption and love driving on empty into the mountains to a resort with "nothing for miles around" with "only one road" leading to it. They don't even have names, or a sign that these cars are connected by anything else than being on the same road. These people are not really winning any point in a baloon debate.
The most drama comes from annoying brother urinating into a bottle into the back seat. "Don't! Don't! Do not piss in my car!" Country and Western fan screams helplessly as the sister vows to kill him. Yes, everyone! Don't piss! Piss and you're dead! What's done cannot be undone! Ahhh! And yet our maverik miturator wonders why he has trouble with the ladies as he sprays across the seats...
Well, that's the most drammatic event in the plot so far. Skip to the next one.
At the not-at-all-ominously-named LAST STOP resort, the trio of cars arrive and it turns out that those few who haven't already had sex with each other are determined to do so in the most unsubtle, predictable and tedious manner. Stoner girl wants to "rochambo" geek girl for Piss-Boy and Owen Wilson, while Passive-Agressive has issues that County and Western is dating Piss-Boy's sister, his ex. Owen Wilson's girlfriend is left out because appears to have vomited up her remaining brain cells and is somehow even stupider than the rest of this not-good-enough-to-be-angel-fodder losers. There's also American Sam Tyler and Blond Bimbo, who is initially mistaken for murdered in a "creep towards inanimate body as the violins scream" moment that might as well be a flashing neon sign saying FALSE ALARM - GO BACK TO SLEEP. I mean, if she really was dead the tension would be finding the corpse in the first place, not checking her fucking pulse...
With the only intiguing factor so far being why everyone is rugged up for the freezing cold when all the dialogue is about how stinking hot this bizarrely-deserted mountain retreat is, the plot continues to focus exclusively on the overheating groins of all concerned as the ladies seek empty bladders and County and Westen gets kicked repeatedly in the balls by Blonde Bimbo when she wakes up. But who cares that the resort is missing all its staff and clients? The petrol pumps don't take fucking credit cards! WHAT KIND OF BIZARRO WORLD HATH THOU AWOKEN WITHIN?!? And why is American Sam Tyler trying to "ninja stealth" freak out Owen Wilson (seemingly the only cast member who he hasn't shagged) when he should be concerned that a) everyone's disappeared b) all the petrol pumps have been sabotaged and c) all the car batteries have inexplicably gone flat? Maybe he's had an overdose again.
Anyway, ice ages come and go as Piss Boy's sister wanders around the resort noticing people have left unfinished meals and handbags and gloves and odd how there was no traffic going the other way. This might actually be frightening if she was unnerved by the mystery. Or if the music seemed composed for a different film - it's the Jaw's theme as we slooooooooowwwwly pan from a window to... A COFFEE MUGG! Mein gott, I wish I'd had children before I watched this for I am surely sterilized with fear by now! And did Blonde Bimbo win a bet that she has to be involved in every single false scare in the film?
Moving on. After about eighteen minutes ten seconds precisely of standing around muttering "that's a bit odd" and "it's very quiet, isn't it?" and discussing how much they want to nob each other, the whole Marie Celeste thing is put down to a string of odd coincidences - you know, some strange disaster caused a mass evacuation with absolutely no clue as to all they disappeared without being seen. Oh, where's a statue of a nubille nymphette with wings and an emo sobbing?
Our... um... cast decide to split up into small, easily-massacred groups and wander off into the woods having first ensured none of them have any phones at all. We're not just "ooh, no reception up here", they have actually never needed mobile phones before in their entire lives and this is the first time they could ever have been useful in any way whatsoever. Wow. That's stretching credibility more than than is advisable in most horror films at all, and we haven't even got to an actual PLOT yet.
What's this? Has Owen Wilson's carsick lover mysteriously vanished from the ladies leaving only her empty boots? Of course not, as the psycho killer music track ensures we know it's a false alarm and have a good five minutes before she turns up wondering what the fuss about and causing lots of slapstick and concussion. Phew. Nearly lead to some kind of story unfolding there, but hell, there's another seventy minutes of this to endure so we might as well get on with it. "You're not allowed to watch the Zed Files any more," Owen is told. Because, um, that's much scarier than Ex Files, I guess. The main point is that we can focus more on the release and subsequent cleaning of various bodily substances as our heroes try to clean up the diahorrea-caked ladies' before the hostel staff un-rapture themselves and are seriously pissed off.
But - sweet onion chutney - Owen Wilson is unaware that someone has scratched the words Help me! on the inside of the cupboard under the kitchen sink! Well, be fair, no one is really checking for messages scratched under the sink. For all we know it was some plumber's mate who couldn't cope with all the bum crack any more and scratched out a plea for assistance. I mean, who the hell would carve those words in such a hard-to-see-spot? Even down to the punctuation? Were they honestly expecting emergency services to look there? Perhaps they could have written down something useful, because frankly if someone was hiding in there the noise of them carving this cute message probably gave them away the weeping angels hunting their arses down! Dear god, it's actually making the cast look intelligent in comparison!
A slightly less stupidly-placed warning are the words don't blink daubed on a mirror, but alas Country and Western misses it as well. I bet the disappeared folk are mighty pissed off no one has noticed any of their carefully-placed graffiti, especially as it seems none of them bothered to turn off taps or lock doors because they were too busy writing this stuff. Did I mention we are now HALF AN HOUR into the movie by now? Even Silence of the Library got more characterization and plot into that, and it had a less-frightening premise to start with not to mention River Song! Mind you, even at her most ghastly and annoying, River's way more interesting and distinctive than these morons (Alex Kingston, due props, even now).
Meanwhile, Geek Girl and Passive Aggressive find the local lake has frozen and engage in William Hartnell esque exclamations (it can't freeze at this temperature, besides, it's far too warm!) while the actors try not to chatter their teeth as hypothermia develops. Why the moviemakers didn't just edit in some footage of the frozen lake and film everything else at the height of summer escapes me, rather like the Weeping Angel fan film I had been promised, god damm! On the plus side, however, the sight of the frozen lake - complete with trapped fisherboat but no fisherman - does convince GG and PA that the wierd shit occuring might actually be important and worth more than idle comment. So, it could be said that the plot has actually started to move forward but I have no wish to commit myself at this early stage and wind up looking a fool.
It's still not scary, perhaps because these hostel huts are so prepackaged there's no real vibe that they've been deserted. Night of the Comet managed more with less, and also achieved the cunning plot of not being total garbage at the same time. I really recommend watching it, by the by. Family-friendly zombie flick that clearly inspires both Buffy and Red Dwarf to a severe degree.
Meanwhile, Piss-Boy's Sister and Country and Western find a noose set up in one of the houses. It's about the most unthreatening noose I've ever seen in cinema. It makes the noose in Carry On Columbus look like Heath Ledger. If you have a fear of nooses, watch this and the fear will magically disappear as quickly as the poor sap what had tied it in the first place. In an attempt to make up for it, Geek Girl abruptly reveals she is a birdwatcher so she can reveal THERE ARE NO BIRDS! (If, as she thinks, some mini-ice age has struck the lake, is it ridiculous to assume all the wild life legged it like ninjas on fire?) And there ARE NO INSECTS EITHER! (This is proved by prodding a rock with her boot and leaping to conclusions.) Both of which would have much greater impact had there ever been evidence either had been there. I mean, if the sounds of birds, insects at all had been cut off one by one over the course of the last half a fucking hour, this could have been ramping up tension from a film that by now is making Bill and Ted accuse it of being too laid back.
Sinister American Sam Tyler is quick to put a stop to this, however, as he bigs up what idiots everyone was by wasting all their petrol getting here and they are effectively trapped. Thanks for that, AST. Your career as crisis management and parttime samaritan await with eager anticipation. Passive Aggressive however, has finally developed some self-awareness and vows to take his chances fleeing this "bad fucking Twilight Zone Camp Blood Death Trap of a Weekend Getaway" which should have been his reaction twenty-five minutes ago, if you ask me but he's still got more braincells than most of the other cast. Oh, wait, it's Country and Western that's being all apocalyptic, not American Sam Tyler. Jeez, how could I get such too strongly-defined characters confused? I am beyond redemption!
But what's this? During a lengthy tracking shot circling the gang of idiots, Piss-Boy's Sister has vanished! It's almost as if she just stepped behind the camera but now she's gone! And she was called Tracey, so there's no trace of Tracey HAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHA! So, while Owen Wilson and PA try and fail to siphon gas from other cars and wonder if some crazy guy is responsible for this bizarre rapture ("I wish it was a crazy guy. I can fuck up a crazy guy!") everyone else splits up to look for her. This is as productive as you can imagine, but they take time out of contemplating this apocalyptic scenario to note American Sam Tyler is "creepy as fuck", just in time for Blonde Bimbo to get a fit of the screaming hoomizootics and reveal American Sam Tyler has disappeared as well! It's just like, I dunno, the actors are just giving up on this film one by one! AND WHO CAN BLAME THEM!
"I just took my eyes off him for a second!" blubbers Blonde Bimbo, (presumably when she was too busy dreaming about candy and unicorns and whether her stepfather really did upload those sextapes to dailymotion). PA suggests this is further solid foundation for his get the fuck out of here policy, but Country and Western starts shaking him by the throat and screaming. Basically, until Piss-Boy's Sister returns from the wild blue yonder, this retarded Big Brother installment WILL CONTINUE!!!
Owen Wilson suggests they pool their knowledge, and this proves to be a truly depressing realization. So, our heroes try to use their staggering intellects to suggest what has happened. Wandering psychokiller? A poison gas cloud? CIA cover ops? Some Lovecraftian entity only spoken of in the most obscure of Genesis albums? Either way, Country and Western, Blonde Bimbo, Piss Boy, Stoner and Geek Girl vote to stay in the zone of most unspeakable danger. And by this they lose whatever sympathy I might have had for them. County and Western justifies this suicidal act on the grounds he "hopes the others are wrong". Can you believe this guy isn't in the White House by now?
So, night falls... I fall... and where were you, and where were you... Sorry. Got a bit Angie Hart there. So, our heroes are locked and bolted inside this luxury restort as darkness descends. They sit in a bored, miserable silence with only Stoner Girl trying to lighten the aura with a game of Strip Poker/Indian Wrestling. You think they'd have turned on a radio or something, given there's plenty of electricity and no sign that they are isolated from the outside world. But hey, stay ignorant - it gives an excuse for Stoner Girl to bet a spare pair of knickers! (I know, she didn't even go commando! Easy A was kinkier than this!)
Alas, while ducking out of sight to strip off his boxers for the next bet, Piss Boy is wiped from the tablete of existence. Stoner Girl freaks out, which was a pity - it would have been better if she'd simply assumed she was high and kept knocking back booze. PA, meanwhile, decides he is too good for this shit and makes a bolt for it, out of the house and into his car. Now, the more observant and cynical amongst you might be expecting him to be simply disappeared in this pointless, futile escape gesture.
Well, you'd be wrong. In actual fact, PA was snatching up his pump-action shotgun he conveniently forgot he had until now and then takes the opportunity to call Country and Western for being such a damn stubborn moron he's kept them in fatal danger all along. Normally I detest this shirking of responsibility but an argument with sane viewpoints is a rare and splendid thing in this film. We let it ride, like the Gunmobile PA christens his pimped-up ride.
Country and Western meanwhile suggests the houses are riddled with deadly secret passages and booby traps, which reassures Owen Wilson of his rationality no end. Stoner Girl finds a copy of the Bible and deduces that God is striking them down one by one for their sins (though, as the others point out that its odd that Stoner Girl the roboslut is not the first to vanish) and this improves the group morale even more. PA unleashes the inner power of the primal Richard Dawkins to crush her puny belief systems like the tissue of dope-fueled paranoia they really are! YOU HEAR ME, RATSINGER? PARANOIA!!!
"You pray!" PA shouts at Stoner Girl. "I won't! And whoever disappears last? Wins!"
Seriously, this is the hieght of quotable and evocative dialogue in the film so far.
"Things are starting to unravel and they're going to get worse!" predicts the self-described "hardly-functional" Blonde Bimbo (who is also, apparently, a little bit psychic not that there's any sign of this ESP being at all useful). Owen Wilson meanwhile starts self-harming with broken glass - that crazy guy! Meanwhile, a search for food is framed so when Blonde Bimbo opens the fridge door, Stoner Girl and her pet bible are hidden from view... but alas both are still there moments later. Damn. Triple damn and blast. Oh wait, then Owen Wilson's girlfriend does the same thing and this time Stoner Girl and Bible are gone! Finally, things are looking up! 100+ points to the athiests, right Mr. Dawkins?
Owen Wilson cracks before 52 minutes of the film are up, grabs PA's gun and starts gibbering like a meth-addicted gibbon before accidentally shooting the gun's owner in the armpit. Together with his equally-gibbering girlfriend, Owen Wilson steals the keys to Country and Western's car and they drive off into the sudden, inexplicable snow... only to stop right away. Have you cynics suspected the Wilsons have suffered an unexpected reality failure? Well your brains are working two minutes faster than the film - but, egads, Mrs. Owen Wilson is still this side of the looking glass and - spank me with a length of fibre optics from the National Broadband Initiative!
PA is now throttling Mrs. Owen Wilson demanding to know what happened to Owen Wilson who was sitting next to her in the car. This, the more observant of observers will have noticed, links up perfectly with the opening scene 55 minutes earlier in the sense both are uninvolving and rather crap. For those of you eagerly waiting the resolution, Country and Western punches PA's lights out as he jabbers that escape is impossible and lots of other ominous lines cribbed from The Evil Dead. Meanwhile, it is learned Owen Wilson vanished with the car keys but left the shotgun intact. PA finds this hilarious.
One add break later and the unconscious PA has been bandaged and allowed to snooze with his gun in his hand. Can you tell Blonde Bimbo came up with this idea? Mrs. Owen Wilson is catatonic and so CW, BB and Geek Girl are left to ponder over the plotless hole they're in. Why is the countryside freezing over? No idea. Why are they disappearing one by one? Beats me. Why is Blonde Bimbo stripping down to her underwear when the temperature has dropped 50 degrees? It is beyond our comprehesion. Why am I still watching this? God knows.
Just when it looks like the newly-single CW and BB might bang uglies alone and unobserved in the upstairs bedroom to the John Williamson score to the Tatooine scenes from Star Wars... er, they do. OK. So the next time YOUR significant other is missing for more than four hours, assume they're dead and go on the pull! The poist-coital conversation is your typical dreamy girl love fest ("I'm so scared." "I know." "I don't know what's happening. I don't want to die here." "You still might.") and then it turns out Blondie Bimbo has vanished because CW was too busy admiring the bedroom ceiling. Oh, if only there was a mirror!
Disgustingly the sheets remain in rigid woman-shaped shroud once she's disappeared. Gross.
Poor CW, unable to have a relationship with a woman who doesn't cease to exist after sex, storms downstairs to whine at Geek Girl about this when suddenly THREE KNOCKS RING OUT! Yes, the old last-people-on-earth-hear-a-knock-at-the-door chestnuts Steven Moffat recently turned into a full six minutes of Doctor Who last year! As AP says, "You gotta be fucking kidding me!" CW bows to peer pressure and opens the door to reveal...
AMERICAN SAM TYLER!!!
*imagine Murry Gold going apeshit*
None of the surviving heroes buy his "oh, I totally tripped into a ditch and slept through the movie" excuse, but I suspect this is more down to bitter envy at his good luck. PA accuses him of being an alien, a demon, a zombie, the spirit of an Indian burial ground and basically lists countless plot ideas better than the one I've been watching for the last hour. PA is quite willing to blow AST's head off if it gives any kind of logic to the plot, and the fact he's high on painkillers won't help. So he blows out AST's kneecaps demanding he give even the slightest reason behind this bizarre movie plot. Geek Girl begs for less Jack Breur interrogation and PA drags the legless AST out into the snow to become a pod person or somesuch Steven King bollocks (those are PA's accusations, not mine). The crippled AST screams from behind the door... and then the screams stop, in undoubtedly the most frightening bit of the film so far.
"I guess he was Noah after all," PA says dreamily, high on the sheer pointless of existence now reality is starting to wind down around them. He could kill or rape them all, but he'll settle for a quick ciggie. "If I gave you a blank video tape, would you care what was on it before? It could be a snuff film, but why would you give a fuck? So yes I may have done some monstrous things but I don't think anyone's going to know..."
"We will," says Geek Girl, rather unwisely in my humble opinion.
"Yeah. For as long as you both shall live. Good luck with that." PA then notes that all the vanished folk left not a spot of blood to mark their passing and then, with irrefutable logic, blows his brains out all over the curtains. Charming. This, I think we agree, is why you don't let stressed Americans high on painkillers using loaded firearms. Now you know. And knowing is half the battle, amirite?
It's a complete waste of time as CW and Geek Girl blink and both PA and his blood spurts vanish. HAH!
And then... THE PHONE RINGS! Don't worry, it's just a wrong number but it strikes our two remaining heroes (Owen Wilson's missus is still alive, but catatonic in the corner) they can call for police assistance! I know, it's such a breathtaking idea! If only we'd thought of it earlier! But our heroes must remain in reality for three hourss and CW immediately facepalms. Yes, because the "don't blink" rule allows emoticons.
Geek Girl and CW begin a three-hour stare-out competition - BUT THE LIGHTS GO OUT! So they light some candles and then remember Owen Wilson's missus... has she disappeared when the lights went out? Well, by jimbo, by cricey... she hasn't. Man, I'm calling this badly tonight. Anyway, our heroes sit in the dark with candles pondering on why the lights went out? Power failure? Evil forces? Obamacare? CW then cheerfully reveals that the vanished Piss-Boy sister was pregnant with his child and he was going to marry her. So, um, jumping the bones of Blondie Bimbo seems slightly less heroic an act, doesn't it?
Ten more minutes of this. Ten more minutes.
CW whinges he doesn't care about the mysterious rapture happening. GG whinges that she wanted to be a good geek and become a biologist. Then the film returns to its niche of toilet humor as GG needs to empty her bowels without breaking eye contact. Awkward, huh? And then Owen Wilson's missus enters the bathroom with them and announces she is going to "go away now" and vanishes in the time it takes for the others to turn and tell her to shut up. Bye then.
So GG and CW gaze at their reflections in the bathroom by candlelight for the next few hours until the latter dozes off, sways out of the candlelight and vanishes. Idiot. It's not as if they didn't have time to work out a blinking rotor or something, was it? Geek Girl gets all upset and then there is the sound of approaching sirens and runs out in a gibbering flail of limbs into the entire police department outside. Oh, and it's been daylight for a couple of hours while they were hiding in the toilet. What a beautiful metaphor for the film as a whole.
The MIBs (lead by the holo-doctor from Star Trek: Voyager and of course the Greatest Film Of All Time, Get Crazy) are clearly aware they can't stay for long and when Geek Girl urges them not to blink is told that "they never do". So fuck you, lonely assassins. Just as it all seems over, the area falls silent and Geek Girl (sobbing in the back of a police car) is suddenly all on her lonesome.
Bitch just cannot get a break, huh?
PA's words that they are all going to be erased echo back at her as Geek Girl tries to outstare her reflection and then she blinks.
Meh. If the Weeping Angels had been involved, at least there'd be an explanation. This "rapture-esque" stuff was done better in Vanishing on Seventh Street where at least there was some atmosphere with vashta nerada esue shadows consuming humanity en masse, or perhaps The Twilight Zone ep And The Sky Was Opened where a space mission break the dimensional barrier and gradually cease to exist.
Don't Blink? Don't fucking watch.