It’s time to look at a horror film from the early 2000s. This one is definitely a very by the books kind of horror film. It throws in all the usual elements like some quick jump scares and spooky visuals. Ultimately it doesn’t do much right though and between the poor characters, lackluster writing, and unimaginative villains; They is a film that you will quickly forget. Even the title doesn’t seem very inspired but it does very quickly give you that horror film kind of vibe so I’ll give the film some credit there.
The film starts with some monsters pulling a kid into there world like something out of Stranger Things. These monsters aren’t all that powerful though and the kid escapes back to the real world. Fast forward almost 20 years later and the monsters show up again. The guy decides to destroy himself to beat the monsters to the punch. He invited Julia over to see this though and now she is scarred for life. Two of the guy’s friends show up (Terry and Sam) and explain that these monsters are here to destroy everyone who has their mark one by one. See, these monsters claim their prey when they’re kids and show up to finish them off once they’re full grown. Julia thinks this is all messed up but eventually is unable to deny this possibility. Is she going to be the next to disappear?
So there are a lot of issues here. One of them is that the monsters don’t get to appear much. Maybe it’s because the director knew they wouldn’t be too fierce looking? They sort of look like Gollum from Lord of the Rings. They’re very frail and most only seem to be about the size of a kid. Sometimes they can be a bit larger though so it seems to vary quite rapidly. Without a monster to fight what about our fight scenes? Well, the issue is that there aren’t really any fights because the monsters are too powerful. I mean, they’re not strong enough to drag a grown person down until there’s a bunch of them but since they have unlimited numbers and cannot be defeated it’s ultimately pointless for the humans to fight back.
That’s why it’s always preferable if you have an opponent that you can really fight off. As powerful as Freddy and Jason are, at least you can theoretically get into a fist fight with them and hope for the best. With these guys they’ll overwhelm you with unlimited numbers. Their only weakness is the sun and since they can create large scale blackouts that won’t help much either. I feel like a sequel about them trying to take over the Earth would have had more potential. As it stands, it just seems like nobody has a shot here and that’s a shame.
Julia isn’t a great main character. She starts getting spooked by the monsters real quick but ultimately doesn’t do much about it. At most she plays along with the gang for a bit but still makes a lot of questionable decisions. At the very least I’d say that staying with Paul would have been better than running to an abandoned Subway station late at night. I’m wondering if the gates actually do shut off at that time. In the movie she gets locked in but if the trains are still running that would be odd. I’ll assume the gremlins were causing this as well. So Julia’s pretty standard for horror protagonists but if anything is a little slower on the ball than the others.
Then we have her boyfriend Paul. The guy seems reasonable for the most part but also way too soft. There’s no way he should be letting these two guys crash at his place without paying rent or anything for so long. Particularly since they break his one and only rule of barging into his room. Paul can definitely do a lot better than this. I’ll give him some points for standing by Julia in the end but that’s about all I can do for him. He’s still better than Terry and Sam though. Terry decides that even though she is going to be one of the next to go…she is going to head to a swimming pool where it gets fairly dark out. She should have made sure she was near the exit for when everyone else was leaving.
I just have a problem with her going at all. Now, it’s true that you can’t just live in fear and hide inside all day. I definitely agree with that logic for just about everything in the real world. That said, if a supernatural demon is after you and you know that it’s been bumping off people as soon as the lights go out, why would you head anywhere without a flashlight or something? Why put yourself in a position to be eaten so easily? It just wasn’t smart. Sam isn’t much better. I guess the guy was home but he’s drawing everything in black paint to make the room even darker. Why? It doesn’t make any sense and naturally the monsters close in on him as well. The guy was always pretty grim by nature so maybe he was taking it in stride. To an extent these aren’t massive details because the film assures us that they were doomed to die either way. Still, it would have been nice if they handled things a little better.
Beyond that the film forces in a lot of the typical romance scenes you would expect in a horror title. There’s quite a lot of fanservice here throughout that brings the film down and the scenes don’t actually add anything to the experience. It’s even used for humor once or twice. Once again I have to take a shot at Julia here. When she’s trying to figure out if she has the mark, it’s literally a life or death matter. Wouldn’t she be a bit more thorough? Later on she has a “whoops” kind of moment when she realizes where it is and you can’t tell me that you wouldn’t have noticed this earlier. When it comes to looking for a mark you had better be detailed. The scene where she tries to deactivate the beacon is pretty brutal but that would have been a little more helpful earlier. Either way I bet she was doomed though.
Overall, the whole movie is really just a lesson in futility for the characters. Nothing they do has any real effect and the monsters are just too strong. The film can be fairly violent and dark the whole time. It’s pretty much mandatory that the characters all have some kind of dark element in their background. The character shooting himself was certainly one way to start the film. There’s just not a whole lot of quality to be found here. It really underperforms in every area. At least it does throw in the token twist ending to the film so you should be ready for that. At the very least I feel like all the horror titles gotta end with that because at least it gives you something to remember the film by. Again, I think there could be potential for a sequel where the aliens wage war on Earth even if that might shift genres a bit. It’ll at least be a good way to shake things up. In the meantime I’d advise skipping this horror flick.