JUNE 24, 2012
Thankfully, Flick has nothing to do with horror movies (watching or making) – the title had made me suspect it was yet another “crew of a horror flick gets killed during production” affair. But no, it’s actually about a guy who is killed in a fight over a girl and comes back 50 years later to exact revenge and finally get the dance he was promised, which is a perfectly decent plot for a movie; sort of a mix of The Crow and My Boyfriend’s Back.
Unfortunately, the script is let down by the obnoxious way that the film is put together; a garish mix of Sin City style hyper reality, over-saturated color effects, and a lax pace that even the director admits could have been fixed. But that issue wasn’t as big of a problem as the other two, because a slow pace is a common problem in movies and doesn’t take me out of it. However, an endless parade of wipe effects DOES; I don’t know if he’s obsessed with Star Wars or what, but it seems like every single scene (and even a few shots within a particular scene) starts and ends with a wipe or fade to black.
Then there’s the odd fact that nearly the entire movie has the four corners of the image soft blackened out, as if it was perpetually about to start a closed iris shot. It’s the sort of thing you might see in a flashback scene or something, but placing it over so much of the movie is baffling to me, and it constantly distracted me. Same goes for the coloring, with shots drenched in filtered orange and reds, like someone dropped a color filter over the shot and played with the settings at random. Smoke is always turned red, the radio station has green electric fields over it, even the damn radio tuner turns from red to white when the rock and roll is shut off. I suppose it gives the film a unique look, but it’s to the film’s detriment – it makes it look cheap and desperate. If anything it would have worked better in black and white with these color bits providing highlights, rather than just being MORE colored than the already over saturated rest of the image.
But if I can look past all that, at least there’s some semblance of a good movie here. Again, the pacing can be abysmal, but I always enjoy these sort of “back from the dead for revenge” plots, and it’s interesting that he’s a zombie instead of a supernatural badass. Not only that, he’s closer to a voodoo zombie than a Romero type one, as he needs music to be playing in order to have the energy to kill. He also retains his intelligence and ability to speak, so he’s a bit sympathetic as he makes his pleas to his girl for a last kiss or whatever. I also dug his makeup, particularly on his hands which were rotted and drenched with slime and such.
Another highlight was Faye Dunaway as the cop on Johnny’s trail. It’s unfortunately one of those subplots in which the character is trying to put together what we already know (the connection between the victims, who the killer is, etc), but Dunaway’s game performance (and prosthetic hand!) keep them from being derailing the pace too much. One-time Bionic Woman Michelle Ryan also pops up as the daughter of Johnny’s intended gal, in a role that helps remind the viewer of one of the movie’s more interesting ideas – it’s decades later, so his victims are much older, unlike the usual “one year later” scenario where everyone just has a different haircut or whatever. No, these versions are played by different actors and have come a long way from their reckless youth, his primary target now has a daughter about the age they were when Johnny was killed, giving the movie a bit of a melancholy twist. I also like the “Johnny POV” shots that show us that he still sees them as their younger self – it’s one of the film’s few visual tricks that enhance instead of detract from the film.
The disc comes with a few extras, including the commentary by writer/director David Howard. It’s pretty dry, but he does admit the pacing issues and a few other things he wishes he could redo (the abrupt climax among them), and unless I missed it he doesn’t joke about watching the commentary before watching the movie, so it’s worth listening to if you dug the movie and its style. Then there’s a lengthy interview with Dunaway where she talks about why she took the role and such, mixed with on-set footage and the like. You can skip pretty much everything else; there’s a BBC news report on the film that tells us little new we didn’t already learn, and “Animatic Comparisons” seem a bit redundant on a movie with so many cheapo FX anyway (plus several sequences that play out with comic panels). There’s also something called “Rockabilly Radio” that I skipped because I didn’t particularly love (or hate) any of the music in the movie so I didn’t feel the need to hear it again.
If you can get past the visual style and assorted nonsense (did I mention the sing-along?), you’ll probably really dig the flick, especially if you’re tired of the usual NOTLD or 28 Days Later wannabe zombie movies. Otherwise, the sluggish pace makes it a bit of a tough sell. If Howard can be convinced to recut this down to 80 minutes or so (it’s currently 95) and be a little less generous with his After FX showcasing, I bet it would be a bigger cult fave.
What say you?