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November 20, 2018

1

Seven in Heaven

by Franz Patrick


Seven in Heaven (2018)
★ / ★★★★

Unimaginative horror picture “Seven in Heaven,” written and directed by Chris Eigeman, is like a “Twilight Zone” episode stretched to a ninety-minute feature with young teenagers as its main target audience—only they are likely to be bored with it because not much of interest ever happens despite the fact that the story involves traveling across alternate dimensions. I have seen scarier and far more creative episodes of “Goosebumps” and so, in the middle of it, I wondered why the writer-director felt this particular story needed to be told. It’s certainly not entertaining.

Stories involving alternate dimensions should be a source of constant entertainment. A simple formula should be established during the exposition which means getting a feel of the superficial traits of supporting characters involved. You know who they are: the best friend, the romantic interest, the bully, the parents, perhaps even figures of authority like the police—these are the usual figures in the life of a teenager, or at least movie teenagers. But this picture fails to do even that. Take a look at the protagonist’s mother (Jacinda Barrett). She is barely visible because she is written to have no personality. This is supposed to be someone who had just lost her husband a couple of months ago from an auto accident and must now raise her son on her own.

The teen characters share minimal chemistry. While Travis Tope as Jude is capable of emoting (having big and expressive eyes can only help), most dramatic moments fall flat because those who fall within Jude’s social circle are simply there to trade dialogue with. They do not challenge the character in any way, or question him, or force him to grow. Even June (Haley Ramm), the girl with whom he travels across dimensions with, is not compelling. The performer sort of summons a Danielle Harris vibe, but her character is still a bore. Clearly there are fundamental problems with the writing.

The idea of going into a closet for seven minutes and somehow being transported to a different reality is an idea with potential. Each reality, for example, can command a specific look or feeling, to be so different from one another that the viewers end up remembering them. This work does not bother to do this—with one exception. Jude and June open the closet door and the high school party is done. There is nobody around and so they figure everybody must have gone home. And so they step outside the house. Still, there is no one. Look at the sky. There is no moon, no stars. They walk around the neighborhood. Not a single soul. It looks as if every person had evacuated. This is the creepiest the film has ever gotten. Sadly, it lasts only about three minutes and we are off to the usual running around. The problem is, when our protagonists run from danger, it isn’t even convincing. Everything looks to be functioning in slow motion.

I can’t imagine anyone enjoying “Seven in Heaven.” While watching, I thought it probably would have been less of a trial to be endured if I had a notebook and pen in front of me so I could jot down ideas—creative ones—on how plot strands and character motivations could be improved. (For starters, there would be character motivations.)

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