To be honest, I’m having a hard time writing this review. Where does one begin with the Lordi Motion Picture? Going in to it I had no idea what to expect. Was it going to be serious, scary, funny, ridiculous? Turns out all of the above (well, except maybe scary).
We find ourselves in familiar territory as the film opens in a scary hospital. Following a near-fatal accident with a hospital scanning-device, Ben (Noah Huntley), a noble father, has decided to leave with his autistic daughter Sarah (Skye Bennett) and her piles of scary monster-drawings. Their unapproved exit is foiled, however, by a mysterious elevator that leaves them at “not six, not seven, not hell, nor heaven” (how’s that for cheap nursery rhymes!?). Together with four strangers they find themselves stranded in some sort of parallel universe where the hospital is deserted, or rather: full of dead people and haunted by stupid looking heavy metal monsters.
As some might find obvious from the above, the plot rips from the Silent Hill-games in a major way, almost stealing lines of dialogue and entire characters in the process. To that you can add a lot of overused “scares” and set-ups from particularly Japanese horrorfilms, as well as the good ‘ol Asian tendency to sideline story and logical progression for the sake of aesthetically refined “scary” sequences. The film is neither good nor bad in the first half hour, but all this changes when the first member of Lordi makes her screaming entrance. The way these Finnish musicians can look so ridiculously serious in their monster-costumes and still keep a straight face leaves me in awe. And let me just make this absolutely clear: They do not look scarier on screen than on stage! Putting these monsters – one of them looks like a super-sized Critter with a studded leather-jacket, for heaven’s sake – into a film that otherwise seems so serious is a tremendously baffling choice. To me it’s either ironic genius or prepubescent stupidity acted out by grown men (I mean that in the cool Wild Zero kinda way). There is no way in hell that anyone is gonna take this nonsense serious once “Amen The Unstoppable Mummy” and “Ox The Hellbull” enters the mix, so my best bet is to just lay back and laugh.
If you do choose to enjoy the film as stylised irony or a very expensive b-flick, there are loads of enjoyable scenes. You can laugh when the remaining cast try to out-over-act each other when they figure out the twist you predicted half an hour ago and you can enjoy the obvious rip-offs, stupid, but memorable dialogue and total lack of actual scares littered throughout the film.
Debuting feature director Pete Riski (who’s made all of Lordi’s music videos so far), shows no knack for creating mood or suspense, but he does have a little aesthetic in him and thanks to one of the largest budgets in Finnish film history, Dark Floors looks totally on par with most American horrorfilms. To his credit the film never gets boring, it just isn’t scary either.
Basically the best way of describing it is to compare it to a Lordi-album. In all objectivity Lordi-albums really suck. The music is ridiculously clichéd, predictable and totally mainstream compared to the image the band and their Gwar-ripping costumes try to exude, yet for some reason – mainly the lyrics and attitude – the albums are always entertaining and enjoyable. Same goes for the movie. Even though it’s plastered in heavy clichés and predictable plot-twists, has no sense of mood or tempo and features some of the least scary monsters ever to grace the silver screen, it’s still remarkably entertaining. It balances on a razor’s edge with a serious, bordering pretentious, storyline on one side and those goofy-looking Lordi-monsters on the other. Well played, ironic horror-comedy or a serious, bloody misfire? You’ll have to judge for yourself.