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The Wicked One (2006)
28th Nov 07
Evil is unleashed when a Napoleon Dynamite look-a-like digs up a grave that he really ought not to have. As a consequence of his action, young people start running around with dodgy make-up on.
What can it all mean? Yes, you've guessed it! EVIL has been unleashed upon small-town America and is turning people into DEMONS! It's up to a group of college students to put an end to head demon Appladus before he finds the right body to reincarnate with and destroy life AS WE KNOW IT!
Let's get one thing very clear from the start. This reviewer has no issue with lower budget fare. What he looks for is to be entertained, regardless of the money stumped up to make it. If the makers recognise the restrictions they are under and tailor their celluloid output accordingly then there isn't a problem. The only time there is a problem is when the filmmaking sucks and that can happen irrespective of the budget. It just so happens that The Wicked One is a low budget movie that sucks big time.
The accompanying note with the preview copy read "thanks for taking the time to review my little film. If you have any question (sic) don't hesitate to ask. Just a little about the film and how it came to be: The Wicked One was a result of the "old" zombie / demon genre films (i.e. Evil Dead, Night of the Living Dead'). We basically just grabbed a camera and shot on days we had off or time too and it was all done on a shoestring budget."
Surprisingly this mess has not one but two people calling the shots behind the camera - Jared Haas and Aaron Commareri - as well as writing and acting in it. Between them they have managed to make an awkward feeling and rather dismal flick. Tonally it's all over the shop and to watch is an absolute nightmare. The note was right; they basically just picked up a camera. That was about as much thought as went into making it.
It would be uncharitable to bitch about the acting being poor in an independent movie such as this, and normally amongst such a cast there is someone that has a knack for delivering their lines with more emotion and expression than you'd normally have any right to expect. Unfortunately there is no such luck here. The nearest we have to someone that can act is Jared Haas but then he seems so keen to mug and pose in front of the lens that his apparent glee becomes a turn-off for the viewer. He's so full of himself that by comparison TV's Jonathan Ross comes across as a shrinking violet.
Haas plays Jackson, the most unappealing lead character to clog up the DVD player in years, his bordering on chubby frame looking farcical as he karate kicks his way to saving the world, well his mates' house at least. Watch out for the scene when he launches into a face-off with butch jock / turned demon Johnny (Mitch Nyman). Haas bounds in like he's a Jedi about to kick Darth Maul's ass. He plays the scene like he's watched the Star Wars movies too many times and not even the good ones. Haas fairs better than his co-writer / director Commareri whose brief stint as 'Gothic Guy' gives a good indication of the awfulness to follow.
The viewing experience was marred by an inconsistency in the sound meaning that the crucial plot setting up is inaudible at best. It's a shame as the story, whilst hardly original (but then what is?), had some promise. The script didn't actually seem that bad but delivered through the lips of a bunch of people that can barely articulate such promise is redundant.
The makers have ideas that sit beyond their resources meaning that when a demon goes in to chomp on a victim that instead of a splatter of some much needed red stuff it elects to discolour the screen in much the same that dodgy Seventies TV, such as The Tomorrow People, would do to compensate for a lack of a decent effect. If they do not have the resources to go for the gore shot then why not just pan away when people are bit rather than show they are unable to do it properly?
The make-up is laughable; surely there were better ways of applying it or even trying it? But as Commareri stated they just picked up a camera and went for it. Shame there was no planning and then perhaps the skeleton that gets dug up might just look like it was buried for sometime rather than just bought brand new from a joke shop, all bright white and untarnished. The shot works as neither sinister nor comic. It just doesn't play at all.
The only time the movie picks up or shows any imagination is when the frankly dire party scene is shown speeded up. It's a shame the rest of the film didn't play at the same speed.