Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.
Finland, Finland, Finland, the country where I want to be
Then again, if this movie is any indication of Finlands horror scene, maybe Im good in the States. I know, I know, judging an entire country on the basis of one movie would be like those same countries judging the US on the basis of a Todd Sheets movie. So Ill reserve judgment of Finland as a country until I see more.
As for this movie, it was crap.
Writer/Director Steven is filming his masterpiece, SILENT CREEK in an abandoned mental hospital in Finland where, in the 1970s, the police discovered the resident doctor was making snuff films featuring his patients. The place has been empty since then and Steven thought it would be perfect to film his movie, a fictionalized account of the very events that took place there, on location. Halfway through filming, the crew happens to find the original films made by the doctor, who had taken to calling himself The Auteur, in a sealed room. Steven becomes obsessed with the movies and in a scene I couldnt quite figure out either loses his mind or becomes possessed by the Auteur. From here you can figure out the last half of the movie: Steven, as Auteur, decides to make his movie as real as possible by killing off his cast and crew one by one, and filming it.
Wow. What a twist. I didnt see that coming. It was much better than CATS. Im going to see it again and again. The victims then make the brilliant deduction that theyre inside a horror film, so they need to start playing by the rules. First order of business, Lets go to the basement. Hmm. Lets rethink this. Locked in a mental institution, a group of half a dozen strong, able-bodied people against one crazy man with an 8mm camera. Lets go to the basement.
How bout lets all stay in this well-lit room, together. Or better yet, lets four of us keep watch while the other two work to get the chains off the door so we can get out. Im telling you now, the moment I find myself in a horror movie situation, following the rules is the last thing Im doing. No splitting up, no going to the friggin basement, and if Jim Bob--or in this case, Jyrki or Eero or whatever the hell theyre named in Finland--wanders off, fk him, shoulda been here.
Unfortunately, story is actually the least of SKELETON CREWs problems. Lots of movies play with the rules, lots of movies break them, hell lots of movies dont even make any sense, but sometimes they have great actors who make up for it (logically, the focus character of STAY should have been Ryan Goslings character, not Ewan MacGregors, but thats another review for another time), but SKELETON CREW has a van-load of Fins with no previous or post-SC acting credits. And maybe not all of the blame goes to the actors, after all it cant be the easiest thing in the world to emote convincingly while also trying to work your Finnish mouth around the English language, what with our noticeable lack of umlauts and such. Heres a thought: if youre making a movie in Finland, set in Finland, about a story that took place in Finland and youre using primarily Finnish actors, just speak Finnish; I dont mind reading subtitles. Honest.
As it is, the Finnish actors stumbling over the English language just comes across as clumsy and difficult to watch and takes away any hope of tension or suspense the story might otherwise have conveyed.
That doesnt even cover the serious over-acting, which was worst in Steven Porter as Steve the director, and in David Yoken who plays Bruce, a veteran actor who cant stop talking about the actors and directors hes worked with, even though hes now playing the Auteur in Stevens crappy movie in Finland. Both were so annoyingly bad I began to cringe when they appeared onscreen because I knew that, whatever was coming, it wasnt going to be pleasant.
The special effects are pretty good. In fact, production design in general is pretty good. The look of the film is great, from the rundown hospital with the peeling paint to the few outside shots that made me shiver with the cold of them, to the quality of the found snuff films. The kills are well-done, some of them even inspired, but they werent enough to excuse the acting or the story, unfortunately.
And speaking of the story, I have to wonder just what writers Tero and Teemu Molin and director Tommi Lepola were thinking when they made the first twenty minutes of the movie a complete cheat. We dont even get to the movie SKELETON CREW until after an extended sequence of the opening to SILENT CREEK, which is played, at first, like the real movie, until a camera shows up in the mirror and Steven the director yells cut. Then its revealed everything up to that point, nearly a quarter of the entire movie so far, hadnt even been real. Now, this could work, logically, if it had all been filmed in one long take. But with multiple locations, multiple cuts and angles and sets--even a dream sequence thrown in for added suspense and terror--unless Steven is cutting and assembling his movie as he makes it and is filming it in sequence, that doesnt work because we move so seamlessly from the world of the interior movie to the world of making that interior movie that it kills the illusion and says to the viewer, You just wasted even more of your day. It also signals to the viewer right away that there are problems with this movie that go beyond a predictable story or bad acting.
Then again, maybe this is simply a Finnish horror movie thing that crops up in the majority of their horror, like ghost girls with long black hair in Japanese horror. All I can say with certainty is that while this movie looks pretty good, everything else about it is crap. Its simply not worth the rental, and certainly not worth a purchase; I cant imagine anyone would need to own this movie so that when one of its stars becomes famous they can say they were watching their career even before they were famous; trust me, no one in this movie is going on to bigger fame. Do yourself a favor and save the Euros for something else. Maybe something Australian; they seem to be doing pretty good the past several years.
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Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Good Date Movie
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older