Last year, between the two of us, we watched an average of 317 movies.
This year our goal is to top that by watching at least one a day.
And as an extra special torture, we've decided to write about all of them.

25 May 2008

Valerie on the Stairs, dir. Mick Garris (2006)

NIKKI says:
I find Mick Garris quite an endearing person. Whenever I see him interviewed, he appears to me rather free of ego, just a former editor made good, responsible now for some major movies and TV miniseries'. Along the way, too, he has just stumbled into becoming the old-school horror genre fan's resident flag-waver. Lord knows we need one.

It sucks then to have to say it, but Mick Garris is a terrible filmmaker. His scripts are almost always boring and corny, his direction is unsurprising and unoriginal. His style reeks of film-school technique, and he can barely build a scare with even the most horrifying of material. While the remake of The Shining was impressive, Garris's resume also contains Riding the Bullet, Quicksilver Highway, Desperation, and Sleepwalkers -- some of the worst horror films and Stephen King adaptations ever produced.

How does the man keep getting work? How has become so revered? The stature of the names he draws to his Masters of Horror series is beyond comprehension. Horror directors past and present appear to be lining up to work for him. How has the man blinded people so? Am I missing something? Didn't Stephen King himself grow up loving the Universal Monsters, Vincent Price movies, and Alfred Hitchcock? How does the master of literary horror not see the flaws in Garris's super-corny, over-the-top, under-developed work?

It's boggles our fucking minds.

Valerie on the Stairs, based on a story by Clive Barker, is among the worst Masters of Horror films. It's about a guy who takes up residence at a writer's retreat in order to concentrate on his work. Minutes inside the place, and he's disturbed by banging walls and busybody neighbours, all of whom are mysterious and creepy. The banging stops and the writer (Rob) encounters Valerie (on the stairs) who begs him to save her from an unseen force. Valerie is just a chick lit from above, so she's not really all that scary. Blah, blah, blah, Rob discovers that Valerie and the unseen force (which we eventually see in the form of Tony Todd in a ridiculous devil costume) were created by other residents of the retreat. They are in a story and Rob may just be a part of it.

I have to spoil it -- in the end, after so much blood and gore (a guy gets his spine ripped out through his mouth), we learn that Rob is actually a part of the story and at the end his body turns to typewritten paper and his floats away.

Oh my god, Mick Garris -- are you trying to kill me with your ineptitude and lameness? Or do we blame Clive Barker? Something, perhaps those previously mentioned movies, makes me think Barker isn't the problem.

Nothing here is scary. The story is poorly developed. It makes sense, but only a contrived kind of sense. The horror is boring, the script stupid, the point indiscernible. Another so-called Master reveals his failings.


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