I'm jaded, dear readers.
Once upon a time I would have jumped all over a movie like It Waits, dry humping the disc with reckless abandon as it spun merrily in my player. And while I did drop a few dollars to purchase this title since none of the video stores in my area were brave (read: stupid) enough to stock it, that doesn't mean I'm proud of my decision. In fact, as I picked up the DVD and studied the embossed slip-sleeve, the 28 year-old film fiend in me screamed, "Hey! Numbskull! Put DOWN the copy of It Waits and pick UP the copy of London that's sitting RIGHT BESIDE IT." As you well know, I'm not the most discriminating of consumers, so I locked my conscience in the closet and walked to the store's #12 check-out lane to atone for my sins. Even the meth-skinny rat-thing working the register laughed at me. It wasn't a pretty sight. I guess it could have been worse; I could have purchased the David DeFalco-produced action opus Gangland that was eyeballing me from the discount rack.
No, wait. I did that, too.
It Waits stars Cabin Fever cutie Cerina Vincent as our favorite alcoholic ranger Danny St. Claire, whose name and bra size suggest a different movie altogether. Mourning the loss of her best friend Julie, she and her irritating, chatty little bird shack up in some remote outpost deep in the heart of an expansive forest. After a visit from hunky love interest Justin, one that involves some sound advice about responsibility and a little friendly between-the-sheets meat packing, the two discover they're not alone in the woods. Someone -- or someTHING -- is screwing around with the noisy little siren on the roof. When Justin goes for a look-see, the culprit is already on the ground, tipping over his jeep. The next day, the duo venture into the surrounding tree-choked landscape for a little sight-seeing, only to stumble across a middle-aged couple that had been reported missing just the other night. The husband INSISTS on directions, as opposed to the rangers actually leading them to safety. This, of course, sends them right into the razor-sharp mits of a bizarre demonic creature, who promptly destroys both of them. When Danny and Justin return to the outpost, they discover the thoughtful beast had stopped by for a visit before they arrived, leaving the couple's bloody carcasses behind as a housewarming gift. Horrified, Justin decides to go for help, leaving poor Danny behind with the monster. Can she survive until help arrives, or will she become just another tattered corpse in a glorified treehouse?
First off, the movie is brutally slow...and not in a good way. Stephen R. Monroe decided that it's oh-so important for us to get to know our friend Danny inside and out, though he ultimately forgets to make her interesting. I had the same problem with House of 9, another genre entry by Mr. Monroe. I thought I was paying for a monster movie, not some half-baked character study WITHOUT the character. Yeesh. Things do start to pick up after the thirty minute mark, and Monroe is actually capable of generating suspense from time-to-time, but the space between these moments can sometimes be frustrating to endure. Like I said, some interesting characters would have been nice. Oh, and some decent dialogue, as well. The latter, of course, can be blamed on the presence of veteran television producer Steven J. Cannell. Just because you produced the A-Team doesn't mean you should try to actually WRITE something meaningful. Next time, keep your grubby little hands off the script, okay? Thanks a bunch, buddy.
Secondly, Cerina Vincent was a poor choice for Danny St. Claire. We needed an actress who could carry the movie, not some Z-Grade waitress-in-training who looks as though she just crawled out of an inner-city rehab. Sure, it makes sense that she looks the way she does considering her character's a huge lush, but she doesn't have the screen presence to keep me watching. And, no, big boobs don't count as screen presence. Everyone else is okay, including Dominic Zamprogna (Battlestar Galactica) as Justin and Eric Scheweig (The Missing) as a stereotypical Native American whose sole purpose is to give us some insight into the creature's sinister motivations. The rest of the cast are cattle; prepare to see them slaughtered.
I've read on other sites that the gore is somewhat tame, but I was pretty impressed with the level of bloody goodness on display. From Vincent's hideous "leg-gina" to a guy with a serious stick up his butt, It Waits gives you plenty of opportunities to wince and grimace. Don't get me wrong; we're not talking buckets of blood and guts. What makes the violence work is how it's presented. A good sound design and a little imagination go a long way in my opinion, so you may not consider the film to be as effective in the gore department as I do. I should also mention the creature design, which is REALLY impressive for such a limited production. Kudos to veteran effects man Tony Gardner (Darkman) for making the most of a pretty lame idea.
For a movie that started out as a vehicle for Dolph Lundgren, I guess It Waits isn't all that bad. Although it DOES take its sweet time getting to the good stuff, there are a few creepy moments that keep Monroe's wonky creature feature from being totally forgettable. But let's face it: This movie isn't one for the ages. And for the love of all that's unholy, people, don't make the same mistake I did. DO NOT purchase this movie withot giving it a rental first. I just don't think it's worth the full retail price. If you do decide to take the plunge, at least wait until someone like me drops it off at a used CD/DVD shop in your area. Of course, if you're a Cerina Vincent fan, you may think her heaving cleavage is worth fourteen dollars.
Just try not to let the baggage under her eyes hit you in the forehead, okay?