Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Of all of this current batch of 8 Films To Die For, the one I was most looking forward to after reading the initial description was Unearthed. It’s the kind of creature feature I usually go for (how many participles will dangle in this piece?), with an underground critter run amok, and a group of individuals thrown together, trying to survive. It has Emmanuelle Vaugier, one of the truly smokin’ hot actresses of the day, hot enough to get me to watch House of the Dead II. Twice. And I liked Matthew Leutwyler, first effort, Dead & Breakfast, well enough, as it was a flawed but generally entertaining zombedy. So, couldn’t wait.

Sometimes life just disappoints you. Unearthed is a good contender to be the worst of the 8 movies in the set. It was poorly lit, poorly filmed, poorly acted and poorly written.

It starts in semi-classic style. Vaugier is the sheriff of a small town somewhere in the mostly barren West. She is one week from losing her job. It is slowly revealed in incoherent, fuzzy flashbacks that she killed a child. Due to the difficult-to-follow aspects of the flashbacks, it is hard to tell if she killed the kid as an accident while trying to shoot the girl’s father instead, or if the kid just pissed her off. Anyway, Vaugier is now drinking heavily, either from guilt or reading the final script. This has divided the townspeople into those who still support her, and those who want her gone. Sometimes characters switch sides on this is mid-scene. There are several Native Americans in the community, and they support Vaugier, despite the possibility the kakked kid was herself NA, because they are one with the Great Spirit, and know Vaugier is one hot mama. Or that her soul is pure.

Luke Goss, who played the creepy, face-splitting vampire in Blade II, is also on hand. He is either an archaeologist, Indian sympathizer, grave robber or professional monster killer, it’s a bit vague. Whatever he is, he has tattoos all over his face, so if he’s an archaeologist, I hope he got tenure first. He is an asshole beyond the bounds of ordinary assholery, even shooting someone at one point because they tried to sensibly run away. As the movie starts, a truck driver is attacked by something, causing his rig to jackknife and block the road out of town. This is trouble because that’s a one way road, baby, and everyone in town is now trapped. Also, as is usually the case when there’s a wreck, the entire town, including the pumps, instantly runs out of gas. Right as this happens, the last characters drive into the now-useless gas station. They are Token Black and Two Hot Chicks. If you watch horror movies, you get the feeling these three won’t be laughing through the credits.

Anyway, our stereotypical band is soon under attack from the creature. A few characters so minor as to not even be types get killed, then Tattoo Face shows up to snarl some exposition. It seems that long ago, the Native Americans in the area encountered a strange creature that was either a monster from deep in the earth, an alien, or a robot. Seriously, this was all discussed, but it was unclear as to which was the explanation. The monster/alien/robot was at first friendly, but then got pissed and ran amok. The Native Americans sent it into hibernation using ancient Native American Technology, and it has been buried ever since. Tattoo Face is dedicated to destroying or re-imprisoning the monster, so he digs it up and sets it free so he can try to put it back. That doesn’t make any sense to me, either. The monster may have been held inside a jar, as several cast members stare at a piece of pottery for quite a while. After this, the narrative becomes disjointed, because I picked up a guitar and practiced the transition from D to D7 for the rest of the movie.

Leutwyler understands that darkness is scary, which accounts for his decision to shoot 90% of the movie in near-pitch darkness. He does not understand, that when you film in darkness, the audience can’t see anything, which made it impossible to tell what was happening. Sample audience dialogue:

WIFE: Is the creature attacking?
ME: No, it’s the two guys fighting over the gun.

A momentary flash of light reveals it’s Vaugier trying to start a truck.

I can’t remember how it ends, but I can tell you one of the cast (guess who) has to make a redemptive sacrifice. This is all done to a nu-metal soundtrack.

I think I would recommend avoiding this one.

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