Thursday, June 19, 2008

Crazy Eights

The final film that I watched in this year’s Eight Films To Die For series, Crazy Eights is accurately described on the packaging as a horror version of The Big Chill. In a flashback, we see that eight children were submitted by their parents to an institution to undergo experimentation of some sort (We know this at the outset, but it takes the characters most of the movie to figure it out). Years later, one of the original eight dies, and the surviving six (this is not evidence of my poor math skills) gather to see him off, a la The Big Chill. But in this case, instead of promoting Motown’s Greatest Hits, they find a treasure map of sorts that leads to a box left by the dearly departed. The six of them , which includes Traci Lords, the lovely Dina Meyer, Frank Whalley, Gabrielle Anwar, and George Newburn, set off to find the box, not realizing they are going to the site of their childhood institution, which they don’t remember anyway. When they find the box, they discover toys from their childhood – and the skeleton of the girl who was the eighth of the Crazy Eights. They are soon locked in the old asylum, where they are stalked by the ghost of the dead girl, who apparently resents being left to die. Or something. Bloodshed ensues.

This movie has a cast that belies its b-movie origins, and it is quite well acted. But that’s where my praise ends. It’s hard to imagine a movie could be only 80 minutes long, and in which practically everybody dies horribly, and still be dull and slowly paced, but this movie pulls it off. The direction never manages to convey any urgency or suspense, and it becomes lethally boring long before it ends. We never really develop any empathy for any of the characters. It’s a shame, because the idea had some possibilities, and the actors acquit themselves well.

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