Monday, October 18, 2010

Somebody Help Me

Rarely does a movie title capture my attitude toward the film as well as Somebody Help Me.  This is the latest cinematic gift from You Got Served writer/director Chris Stokes and his frequent collaborators, Marques Houston and Omari "Omarion" Grandberry.  This is the third film these three have worked together on, and it completes their film trilogy; they made House Party 4: Down to the Last Minute to show off their party prowess, You Got Served to advertise what excellent waiters they would be (yes, I've seen the movie, and I stand by my synopsis), and now Somebody Help Me to prove that young black actors can survive a horror movie.  Or can they?

Brendan (Houston) and Darryl (Omarion) and their girlfriends (Serena and Kimmy, respectively) head to a cabin in the woods for Serena's birthday.  When they arrive, the girls aren't terribly impressed, but decide to soldier on.  They are later joined by three other couples (including Seth, played by Christopher Jones, the villain from Served) and they proceed to all get drunk.  Think about that for a moment.  They go to a cabin that is large enough to house five couples, and these chicks aren't impressed?  They deserve whatever they have coming to them.  Ugh, and those couples...!  Each couple, with the notable exception of Darryl and Kimmy (who were rude to each other because that's funny), are a blend of mushy, clingy, and too-much-information horny.  Sure, I've had friends that joke around about their bedroom antics with their more-or-less-significant others, but these characters are just too much.  Here's an example I made up because I don't want to watch the movie again for a direct quote:
Dude: Sick burn!  Up top!
Whoa: (High fives) That's where I like her: up top!  (Flicks his tongue repeatedly and twiddles his fingers suggestively)
Lady Whoa: Aww, yeah!  This cowgirl will break that bronco if it takes all night!  (girls high five)
Dude: (To Lady Dude) I'm gonna get drunk and bone you!
Lady Dude: That means intercourse in at least one orifice!  Tee-hee!
While that is not a direct quote, believe me when I say that it's not far off.  Want proof?  Two of the couples, instead of going to bed at the end of the night, scamper into the wilderness with the explicitly stated intention of having sex in the woods. 

Not surprisingly, the four naughty young people don't come back to the cabin.  The next day, Brendan, Darryl, and Seth wander into the woods for about eight hours (!) before Brendan decides to head back  to the cabin and call the cops.  While waiting for Brendan, Darryl and Seth search some more until Seth decides that they should split up in the dark woods.  Brendan reaches the cabin, but is persuaded by Kimmy not to call the local police because they are black kids in a white area.  That might sound pretty dumb, you should consider the following:
  • The local sheriff is friends with Darryl's uncle, who owns the cabin
  • It's a small town; locals would be likely to spot out-of-towners
  • The missing people were all white
It's not dumb, it's stunningly contrived.  So Brendan and the three remaining girls hike into the woods and find Darryl, but not Seth.  You mean that the idiot who wanted to split up is missing?  Color me shocked.  Or bored; I get those two words mixed up all the time.  Actually, Kimmy's response to this was pretty spot on; when she heard that the remaining white guy wanted to split up in the woods, she said "That's white people for ya."  Fair 'nuff.  The group agrees to return to the cabin because it is night and scary.  Once at the cabin, Seth's girlfriend decides to look for him in the woods.  Finally, they call the local sheriff, who comes over, talks a bit, and promises to check things out.

Now, this all sounds like the makings of a bad movie, right?  Well, those are the good parts.

The film has a Scooby-Doo level Red Herring; it's a creepy and possibly handicapped loner whose home happens to have pictures of the missing people and news clippings of a similar rash of local disappearances, dated three years ago that day.  Despite this circumstantial evidence (which is, of course, never explained), you know he's not the bad guy because he's the only suspect.  Naturally, the main characters, Brendan and Darryl, break into Red Herring's house, freak out and drive to the sheriff's office.  The sheriff's response to eight disappearances within twenty-four hours and a suspect with strong circumstantial evidence was to threaten Brendan and Darryl with arrest for breaking and entering.  And no, the sheriff isn't the killer, either.

The killer puts the kidnapped people in pet cages, like you might have for a normal sized dog.  And they can't kick the doors off because...um...the script asks them nicely not to.  The killer's MO is to perform non-lethal surgery on his victims, like cutting off an ear or poking out their eyes or scalping them, but his skill becomes apparent when his victims die from these clearly not lethal injuries.  Are you wondering how the killer transports all these people (at one point, it is eight adults) to his secret lair?  In a large pickup truck.  Sneaky.  What is even less sneaky than that is the annotated scrapbook of the killer's life and villainous works in his office.  On his desk.  ***Sigh***

At some point, it becomes clear that the sheriff had a case like this three years ago (to the very day!), where some young people went missing and were never found.  He must have had a suspect, because the first cabin he checks out is the killer's.  So, the sheriff stops by, hears muffled cries for help and stealthily breaks in, with his weapon drawn, ready for anything knocks on the door and calls "Hello" loudly several times.  Thank goodness he died for that.

And none of that is even the worst part of the movie!  No, it's not the lack of professional acting/directing/cinematography, either.  The worst part of the movie is the questionable existence of the killer's daughter.  She first shows up in a dream sequence, where Brendan dreams of this creepy girl on a swing, singing "Ring Around the Rosie" in an echoing voice.  At first, I assumed she was like the girls that sing "1-2, Freddy's coming for you," an omen of the killer to come (although without the lyrical relevance).  Later, though, she appears to be a real person that is trying to help Brendan avoid the killer; the killer even interacts with her.  In the end, she is seen leaving in a truck with the killer; she even acts extra innocent at a road block, convincing the cop that the driver was not the droid he was looking for.  So, I guess Brendan is psychic because he dreamed about someone he had never seen before.  But wait --- as the truck drives off, the girl looks at the camera and sings "Ring Around the Rosie" in her creepy voice!  The end.  What does that even mean?!?  I can answer that; it means that I wasted too much time thinking about this movie.

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