Tag: joe lynch

Mayhem


Mayhem (2017)
★ / ★★★★

Joe Lynch’s action horror-comedy “Mayhem” is supposed to be a satire of toxic corporate culture. But what is the point of it when there is no venom behind its sting? What results is violent but pointless movie that finds itself unable to move past its initial idea; it is a classic case of a film that never stops beginning, a bore, redundant, in desperate need of rewrite. Halfway through, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for co-stars Steven Yeun and Samara Weaving, talented performers with charm to spare but are given nothing to work with and so they rely upon histrionics in order to create a semblance of character substance. Matias Caruso’s screenplay is not worthy of their talent.

ID-7 is a virus that readily infects people, rendering them unable to control their deepest, darkest impulses. It is also called the “Red Eye” virus given that those infected tend to exhibit pink eye. There is no cure; it goes away on its own or it can be alleviated using a neutralizing agent. This is all the information we get concerning this virus—presented during the first fifteen minutes. Just like the dead script, neither the virus nor the concept behind it fails to evolve. Because of this, the material is drained of intrigue over time. Eventually, we are left with only violence.

Even then the violence is not all that entertaining. Recently fired Derek (Yeun) must fight his way to the top floor in order to try to get his job back. Surely if he could get an audience with the CEOs, they would be sympathetic to this plight. Naturally, he must face-off against those involved with his firing, from those directly responsible for placing blame on him regarding a botched multimillion-dollar case (Caroline Chikezie) to those who have knowledge of the facts but decided to look the other way (Dallas Roberts).

Scissors to the hand, fire extinguisher to the face, saw into a chest cavity—bloody, brutal, shock and awe. The camera moves with energy and seeming purpose, but the screenplay and the editing lack the synergy (and rhythm) required for these sequences to actually be engaging. Since there is a constant air of superficiality, violence often comes across fake and forced. Its shortcomings are especially apparent when Derek and Melanie (Weaving), a client whose home is on the verge of foreclosure, must take on a horde of office workers. There is lack of discipline in the framing, action beats, and catharsis. It’s all so exhausting and boring.

Thoughtful viewers will pick up on the possibility that the filmmakers have failed to ask themselves, “What’s the heart of the story we’re telling?” This should have been an accessible, relatable movie because millions of people out there work in soul-sucking jobs, thankless jobs, unrewarding jobs—which is not limited to being in an office or sitting in a cubicle. And that breeds anger—in oneself, toward others… So why isn’t the picture more in touch with its humanity? That is because it is easier, you see, to create images of destruction than to show violence within. Since this film is afraid to explore the latter, what we do see—which is the former—offers nothing worthwhile. Just empty busy work.

Chillerama


Chillerama (2011)
★★ / ★★★★

A local drive-in is going to be demolished the next day so the owner, Cecil (Richard Riehle), decides to throw a last hurrah of gory, cheesy, sexy, raunchy B-movies. The line-up includes “Wadzilla,” “I Was a Teenage Werebear,” “The Diary of Anne Frankenstein” and “Zom-B-Movie,” directed by Adam Rifkin, Tim Sullivan, Adam Green, and Joe Lynch, respectively, the last one being a meta storyline involving the moviegoers at the drive-in.

The anthology starts strong. It is a classic creature-feature where Miles (Rifkin) is informed by a sperm bank doctor (Ray Wise) that his sperm count is very low. When Miles looks under a microscope, there is only one instead of millions of sperm. To remedy the problem, Dr. Weems gives Miles an experimental drug that is supposedly designed to make sperm stronger and so it will be able to swim to the egg cell with relative ease. Unbeknownst to them, the side effect involves the sperm growing exponentially bigger—so big that it becomes several stories high and capable of eating people whole. The segment works as a commentary on sexual dysfunction. “Wadzilla” has a great sense of humor and, despite being a comedy first and foremost, it achieves high peaks of suspense.

However, “I Was a Teenage Werebear” lacks intelligence and horror. While it dares to be a horror-musical, I was far from entertained by it. Ricky (Sean Paul Lockhart, famous in the gay community as Brent Corrigan) is a homosexual teen with an increasing urge to be with other men. When Ricky is bitten by Talon (Anton Troy), a werewolf, during a wrestling match, the transformation is emotional as it is physical. This segment’s running joke is the fact that every time skinny, boyish guys with werewolf blood transform, they turn into hairy burly men. I found it stupid, lazy, and mean-spirited. Are we supposed to laugh at gay men who are not considered stereotypically handsome?

It would have been a most wonderful surprise if, underneath a sub-moronic premise, it was about how it is really like to belong—or not belong—in a minority or counterculture despite the mainstream belief that all aspects LGBTQ is united. On the contrary, it remains to have a lot of internal prejudice. Instead, the segment rests on being shallow. The closest it gets to a good jolt is the convincing makeup each time a wolf slashes someone’s face.

“The Diary of Anne Frankenstein” suffers from similar problems. While it has more creativity, stylistically and script-wise, there is also one bad running joke: Hitler (Joel David Moore) being a complete imbecile. It is revealed that Anne Frank’s family is a descendant of Dr. Frankenstein, their name shortened in order to escape the shame of being associated with the madman. When Hitler finds the Franks’ hideout, he murders them, steals Anne’s diary (which contains instructions of how to turn the dead back to life), and orders his men to forge “sad things” as a substitute for what he has stolen. Hitler succeeds in creating a monster and teaching it how to kill.

This is the point where inspiration comes to a halt. The monster growls, grabs onto Nazis, and takes their lives. In the middle of my boredom, I could not help but wonder if the material would have been much stronger if the monster did not learn how to kill despite Hitler’s best attempts. It might have been an excellent commentary on the evil that the Nazis committed in World War II: if a monster designed to kill could not commit murder yet the Nazis were more than willing to, what does that say about them?

“Zom-B-Movie” is the most typical of the four. Zombies bite and infect others, but instead of being hungry for brains, they are hungry for sex. What a snooze.

“Chillerama” has some glimmer of inspiration but it feels misguided as a whole. While body parts are exposed and blood is unleashed, it all comes down to the screenplays being overshadowed by countless missed opportunities.