Horrorfest '07: Crazy Eights (US - DVD R1)
Gabe supposes plain horror movies are better than plain terrible horror movies...
Six childhood friends are brought together when one of their own dies. While settling their friend’s final estate they happen across a treasure map that leads to a time capsule set in an abandoned barn. In the capsule is the skeleton of a child. In their panic they’re lost on the roads around the barn, then find themselves trapped in a creepy and condemned orphanage.
Last year’s Horrorfest was quite weak overall, but I did enjoy the simple thrills of Grave Dancers, which took the dead childhood friend bringing adults back together theme of The Big Chill and added a few some supernatural chills. Similar themes of childhood trauma bringing about adulthood horrors have also been explored ad nauseum by Stephen King over the years. I’m not sure if the creators of Crazy Eights took King or The Big Chill into account (or both) when making the film, but the results are a sort of mutant child of the two.
Co-writer/director James K. Jones has more visual flare than most of the Horrorfest directors. He and his DP manage some impressive light-play, they make some nice style choices, like camera stock, focus, and subtle angle changes that haven’t been done do death in modern horror (though there’s a hint of wannabe Asian flavour). The story unfolds rather gracefully, despite its oft-told and predictable nature. The atmosphere is thick and eerie, but the scares rarely stick, and the suspense doesn’t really agitate. The film winds up in a sort of unfortunate middle ground between classy and glossy Hollywood thriller, and pure B-movie schlock. I doubt anyone will come away from the film upset by its quality, but I can’t see anyone on either side of film fandom coming away satisfied.
Crazy Eights opens with the fastest top credits I think I’ve ever seen in my life. They look like the end credits to a television show, and are lined by a few (unfairly) has-been names—Dina Meyer, Traci Lords (hey, she was pretty good in Blade), Gabrielle Anwar, George Newbern and Frank Whaley. When presented with a list of names like this one can only assume one of two things: that these people are going to do their best to push their way onto the B-list, or they’re really hard up for cash and are going to skate by on their way to the pay check. The good news is for the most part these once-names give it their best; the bad news is that it really isn’t enough. The characters aren’t enjoyable to be around, and their plight isn’t exactly memorable.
Crazy Eights is a very soft film. The camera’s focus often seems to verge on total fuzziness, and the colours are quite dim. I’m reasonably sure this look is with purpose as it lends a melancholy air to the delicate editing and camera movement. Flashbacks are sharper, with higher contrast and brighter colours, but both styles used are more or less effectively shadowy. The DVD’s details are inconsistent, though usually it’s easy enough to see what’s happening on screen during even the darkest sequences. I noticed a few flickers of print damage, and some compression artefacts around some high contrast edges, but overall noise is minimal and grain is fine.
Lake Dead excluded, the one constant in all the Horrorfest DVDs has been an impressive Dolby Digital audio track. Crazy Eights is no exception. The film’s score is a little heavy handed, almost mawkishly melancholy at times and overall a little too loud on the track. Surround channels are mostly devoted to the music and the abstract sound effects that accompany the score. The direction of the off-screen sound effects doesn’t always match the direction of the on-screen action, but the allocation is clean. Dialogue is clear and even, without any hiss or obvious post-production work.
Again, zippo here but The Eye and Horrorfest trailers and the Miss Horrorfest webisodes.
Crazy Eights is a nominally satisfying adults dealing with childhood trauma thriller. It’s long on style and sports a decent cast, but is short on scares. It’s briskly paced and looks good for an STV feature (which it basically is). No big surprises, assuming you’ve seen enough J-Horror flicks, read the opening titles, and can do simple math (the movie is called Crazy Eights, one friend is dead and six remain…). This is pretty much the exact middle of the road, and this brings an end to my look at the 2007 After Dark Horrorfest. Overall this was a better year then last, but just barely.
Review by Gabriel Powers
Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian
Release Date: 18th March 2008
Disc Type: Single side, single layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Extras: Trailers, Miss Horrorfest Wbisodes
Easter Egg: No
Director: James Koya Jones
Cast: Gabrielle Anwar, Traci Lords, George Newbern, Frank Whaley, Dina Meyer
Length: 80 minutes
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