If Watchmen is a big hit, I bet we still start to see a lot more “outside of the box” comic adaptations being put into production, alongside the traditional Marvel and DC films. And that means we’ll probably get a lot of direct to video stuff like Walled In, which is based on a rather obscure French comic named “Les Emmurés” – something I wasn’t aware of until after I had watched the movie. It’s curious then, that Anchor Bay would splash “based on the best-selling graphic novel!” on the back of the DVD and not provide the title or author, especially for a US release. Why bother calling attention to it when the intended audience won’t be familiar with it anyway?
I can only assume that the comic is more mysterious and exciting. As a film, it’s a decent enough thriller, but also sort of lackluster. The setup is pretty great – a demolitions expert arrives at a building due to be destroyed and uncovers its secrets thanks to (or in spite of) the efforts of a few remaining residents. And the cast is pretty interesting – Deborah Kara Unger is always a welcome presence (taking roles that Sharon Stone probably would have been offered 10 years ago), and it’s nice to see Cameron Bright a bit grown up and moving beyond “I am the key to mankind’s future” roles. I have never watched a single episode of The OC in my life, so I’m not familiar with Mischa Barton, but she seems OK enough, and her character is supposed to feel out of place (a female demolitions expert – why not?), so it works.
But it’s just not particularly exciting. There are a few decent scares (the opening sequence is terrific) and one character’s death is pretty awesome (great capper to it too), but at the end of the day, it’s about a building. Remember that scene in Big where he’s got the robot that turns into a skyscraper instead of a car or a gun or something, and he’s like “Who wants to play with a building?” Same deal here. And not only is it about a building, but Barton also narrates with passages from the “Dummies Guide to Demolition”. I’m sure there are some folks who are incredibly excited over the idea that there’s a wall 16 feet closer than the blueprints claim, but the title of the movie gives the reason why, so spending 5 minutes watching her figure it out isn’t exactly a hair-raising experience. She also rambles about how it’s all about weakening a few key points in the structure in order to completely destroy it. There are also at least two scenes in which folks read and discuss books about architecture. I can only hope that Michael Scofield has gotten a copy of this movie; he’ll love this shit.
One thing the movie does have going for it is its creepy French sensibilities. Bright’s character is in love with Barton (ten years his senior, at least), and the 3rd act of the movie has him place her in a pit so he can watch her dance and kiss a fellow prisoner. She then tries to trick him into letting her out by flashing him. There’s also a scene where she hurts her leg, and rather than just roll the leg up like a normal person, she takes off her pants and lets the kid tend to her wound (and then gets confused when a 15 year old boy gets excited over touching an older woman’s thigh). He also has a vaguely “too close” relationship with his mother.
The DVD has a bunch of trailers for upcoming Anchor Bay releases (AB has seemingly finally given Hatchet and Behind the Mask a rest), including one for the film itself. We also get a making of that isn’t too bad, focusing on – what else? – the building and production design type things. Not exactly a jam-packed edition, but certainly better than nothing.
In the end, it’s the exact kind of middle of the road movie that is neither good or bad, but just sort of there. The technical aspects are fine, but the story is blah. The acting is good, but the script doesn’t give them anything memorable to say or really do. And so on and so on. I might check out the graphic novel, and that’s really the only effect the movie had on me.
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House Mother (Short Film) - Written and Directed by Andrew Bowser
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