Cabin Fever star Cerina Vincent heads back into the woods in this horror thriller from uber TV producer turned Horror film impresario Stephen J. Cannell. This time, Vincent has to fight off the onslaught of an ancient Native American demon that likes to toy with its intended victims before tearing them limb from limb in one bloody mess of a movie.
Vincent plays Danny St. Claire a park ranger who spends most of her lonesome days and nights held up inside a lookout tower drowning her tragic past in a sea of vodka. You see Danny is suffering from a nasty rash of survivor’s guilt after living through a fiery crash that took the life of her best friend. Unfortunately for the perpetually weepy St. Claire, a group of college students studying American Indian legendry are about to unleash a centuries old beast with an insatiable hunger for mayhem and a nasty sense of humor.
It Waits is a mishmash of genre clichés which makes up for its lack of scares by overindulging in melodrama and saturating sets in bloody grue – The movie equivalent of Community Horror Theater. Vincent who should be embarrassed about agreeing to star in this trite picture, spends the better part of the film in a cycle of tears and sneers, looking every bit like a Vegas showgirl who got lost somewhere in the pacific northwest and is just trying to find a stage to get back to.
Most of the blame for the films lack of discernable appeal lays in the fact that director Steven Monroe shoots the flick like it’s a made for TV movie-of-the-week. The pacing is tedious, subplots exist for no purpose, the film lacks in suspense, and the script from Richard Christian Matheson further proves that he has not inherited any of his father’s talent for characterization and nuance. The performances are dryer than a martini, and the terrifying monster (insert laughter here), which makes his grand entrance in the third act, looks like a cross between the Creeper and Pumpkinhead – but what was scary in those films is beyond lost here, as the familiarity of the creature causes an immediate moment of unintentional humor.
The real problem with the film in terms of its ability to horrify the audience is obvious – the creature is not scary. The situations that lead the viewer to the big reveal are all handled in a clunky perfunctory way, so that when the monster’s face is finally shown, in a moment lifted directly from Alien, the viewer is left utterly unfulfilled. It’s easy to see why Vincent is scared shitless, she’s probably still drunk and clearly mentally unbalanced. I think she’d run like hell from a rabid squirrel at this point.
The DVD edition of the film includes a making of featurette where the cast and crew, including Vincent and Malone talk about the rigors of shooting the film in Vancouver, including inclement weather that forced a slight change to the legend of the beast. Director Monroe mentions that he had never made a horror film before however his resume shows that he has hardly made anything but suspense/thrillers. So I’m not sure if he is using that as an excuse but it is an exceedingly damming statement since he must be alluding to his prowess at creating mood and atmospheres, something that is only provided by the rain in this film.
You fans of the beastly monster genre are going to be truly disappointed with It Waits. On the other hand, Cerina Vincent fans will be treated to 90 minutes of the tank topped tart bouncing her own brand of special effects up and down on the screen for your viewing pleasure. It’s a shame that the film doesn’t hold up as well as the lead actress’s bra.