I guess the warning signs were there from the off. An unfunny sequence right at the beginning gets our two stoner protagonists arrested, leading them to discover a movie reboot is being made, based on a movie they were the inspiration for originally. Yes, director Kevin Smith is back doing his nerdy comic book self-referential thing in a movie universe he created with cult favourites Clerks, Mallrats and the original Jay and Silent Bob Strikes Back.
Meant as a satire of movie reboots, poking fun at Hollywood, social media and even ‘woke’ culture this should have been a laugh riot … considering once upon a time Smith was one of the sharpest voices around. Yet the script here struggles to be much more that an egotistical tribute to himself. As a fan, that’s a damn shame too as what’s here with a plot revolving around Jay (Jason Mews) finding out he has a daughter, is fine but the movie struggles with clunky dialogue that feels forced and jokes that really aren’t that funny. Attempts at emotion also fall flat not helped by the mostly wooden line delivery of Smith’s own daughter, Harley Quinn Smith as Jay’s illegitimate daughter.
These characters are likeable on a purely surface level, and what they get up to is occasionally fun. The wealth of celeb cameos are enjoyable too with Chris Hemsworth, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon appearing. There’s just clearly nothing left that hasn’t already been done with this world and it’s like even Kevin Smith knows that by this stage.
So how was I going to celebrate Halloween this year? Well other than some people dressing up at work, a few trick or treaters knocking my door … the easy option was to settle down with a horror movie. I was recommended this by a friend and it tells the tale of a family man, still mourning the death of his wife who inherits a house from an uncle he never had anything to do with. Turns out this uncle was into the occult big-time and went about finding and imprisoning various spirits within his labyrinthine house. So sets the stage for a haunted house horror with a twist, where the house it’s self is an elaborate puzzle box that said family man and his daughter (the yummy Shannon Elizabeth) and son have to figure their way out of.
The casting here isn’t great. Mostly TV actors along with Scream’s Matthew Lillard (still as annoying as he ever was) as well and Monk and the girl who liked to run around in her underwear a lot in Scary Movie and American Pie (Elizabeth). But at least we get a brilliantly designed fairground attraction of a house complete with art-decor stylings and plenty of creepy mystery. The various ghosts are also quite imaginative and boast some cool make-up effects (clearly where much of this movie’s budget went).
What is sad however is just how tame it all was, and there’s only really one decent kill and a complete lack of genuine danger (the ghosts are fairly inept at actually harming anyone…acting more like circus attractions). F. Murray Abraham lends a little bit of thespian weight to proceedings but overall this was a glossy, yet Saw-light sort of experience that failed to bare it’s teeth.
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