Saturday, July 10, 2010

It Came From the $5 Bin: Catacombs

OnDemand - Free

Directed by Tom Coker and David Elliot

Starring: Shannyn Sossamon
Alecia Moore (birth name of pop singer Pink)
A bunch of random French actors

This movie had a ton of promise in the beginning. First of all, it's set in the underground catacombs of Paris, which are extremely creepy. There's uber-hip techno music and people are partying like it's 1999. The partying scenes are then cut with a girl running barefoot and screaming like a banshee with mascara streaked down her face (this is foreshadowing for later . . . in more ways than one). She lost, but more than that, there's something chasing after her. Just as she sees the party and runs toward it in relief, a monster comes out of the darkness and the scene cuts to a DJ breaking a record. Then, we see Victoria (Shannyn Sossamon) wearing headphones and awkwardly repeating French phrases. The first line of the film is a voice over: "My sister Carolyn sent me a postcard. All it said was, 'Come to Paris. It will be good for you.' 48 hours after I arrived, she and everyone I'd met were dead." Like I said . . . promising.

WARNING . . . Spoilers for those who just want the gory details (If you're planning on seeing the movie, skip to the end.) . . .

Victoria's trip doesn't get off to a great start, so we can imagine it's all downhill from there. The customs people are . . . well, spiky and kind of French . . . and since she doesn't speak the language, they give her a hard time. We also see a number of pill bottles in her luggage (more foreshadowing), which she explains by saying, "I get nervous sometimes." When her sister (Alecia Moore) picks her up, it's clear there is tension between the two girls. From the beginning, Victoria is set up as the neurotic wet blanket sister, while Carolyn is the free-spirited fun-loving one.

To get her visiting sister to loosen up, Carolyn insists they go to a top-secret underground rave in the catacombs, which of course, necessitates a shopping trip . . . and apparently, a shopping trip montage (complete with obligatory shots of the city). They arrive at the rave and hang out with Carolyn's douchebag friends who get Victoria drunk on Absinthe and decide to go skinny dipping. Afer deciding that she's not quite French enough to handle the whole scene, she wanders away and almost gets lost in the catacombs. Luckily, her sister is there to berate her about how dangerous it is to go off alone. Unfortunately for her, that's the last thing Carolyn gets to do, because she is immediately killed by a hulking man wearing a goat mask.

Now, Victoria is left alone and being chased by Goat Mask Guy. She runs around for awhile and eventually makes her way back to the party by crawling over a wall of human skulls. She is hysterical, but safe . . . at least until the police break in to bust up the party. She tries to fight her way out against the crowds, but gets trampled and knocked out by the thundering horde. The next 45 minutes of the movie is pretty much dominated by our heroine running through dark tunnels and screaming her head off. She runs into another lost partygoer and they try to find their way out together, but every exit is blocked. Things get worse when he falls through some rotted floorboards and Victoria basically leaves him there to die, but not before taking his map.

Final Warning . . . I'm revealing the END . . .

She picks up a mining pick to defend herself against Goat Mask, striking the first person she encounters . . . which, of course, turns out to be her sister's friend who has come back to find her. Suddenly, her sister appears, alive and well, to tell her it was all a prank to make her less scared of everything. Carolyn and her friends have a good laugh at Victoria's expense - that is, until they see their friend dead with a pick axe in his head. Carolyn lashes out at her sister about how pathetic she is, which prompts Victoria to slaughter her and her friends, climb to the surface covered in blood, and calmly take a taxi back to the airport. The voice over from the beginning repeats as the taxi pulls away.

END of Spoilers

I had really high hopes for this movie. I actually like Shannyn Sossamon (or I did until she named her kid Audio Science) and it seemed like the movie had an interesting premise. It starts off strong, but as soon as we're left with only Sossamon to deal with, it turns into an endless, clumsy chase scene and ceaseless screaming, which gets really, really old. The twist ending is lame (forget what I said about Donnie Darko's ending - this is SO much worse.) and it's hard to care about any of the characters, let alone Victoria. You kind of want them all to die.

While the flick had potential and it's painfully obvious they tried their best to make it super cool, it doesn't really deliver. Ultimately, it's a trite, rehash of a bunch of better movies glossed over with a veneer of psuedo-hipster chic. I don't recommend watching it, but if you feel you must, do yourself a favor and just watch the beginning and the end (skip the middle!) to get the jist of the story. Trust me, you won't miss much.

Catacombs gets a 1.5 out of a possible 5 Torgos.

**Editor's Note: Sorry about the length of this post, but I decided to save you from wasting your time, I will give you the option of reading the plot of the film for anything rated less than two "Torgos".

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