SEPTEMBER 15, 2012
The first scene in Mr. Hush takes place on Halloween, which I guess sort of justifies the horrendously blatant theft of the Trick 'r Treat box art, but it's the description on the back that confuses me: "a throwback to the slasher films of the 80s". Um, huh? It's a vampire movie (this is presented as a twist, but it's more of a surprise that Michael Myers is the killer in Halloween), so I don't know why they are calling it a slasher at all, let alone a throwback to the ones of the 80s, which look/sound nothing like a single moment in this movie.
Even if the villain WAS a slasher instead of a vampire, it still comes across more like a really slow, half-assed revenge movie, with the titular Mr. Hush having a very specific vendetta against our hero, Holland (Brad Loree). In the film's opening sequence, Mr. Hush kidnaps Holland's daughter and kills his wife (who seems to be young enough to be his own daughter), and then we cut ten years later. Holland is now living in a tent and pretty miserable, but he starts up a relationship with a single mother and things start looking up... and then Mr. Hush returns and kills her, and also again kidnaps the daughter. I was really hoping they'd cut 10 years later again and repeat the cycle, but alas, Hush kidnaps Holland as well and finally explains his beef with him, which is so howlingly stupid I wouldn't dare spoil it here.
Because, as awful as this movie is, I recommend it wholeheartedly. I dubbed it "The Room of DTV horror" over Twitter, and while I hate repeating myself, there really isn't any better way to describe it, as shares many of that film's strange qualities. For starters, the dialogue seems written by an alien who is approximating English; you will recognize the words, but nothing sounds like anything a human being would actually say. At one point Loree is chained up and his girlfriend's teenaged daughter helps cut him loose - his response is "Good job, sweetie, I'm so proud of you!" Huh? Who would say that in that situation? Hush's big speech about why he's so mad at them is also stunningly inept; it was like 95 degrees in the house when I was watching it and I thought for sure I was just having a heatstroke or something, because it made more sense than anything he was saying OR the idea that someone would read this script and think "Yes, I want to be a part of this."
Plus the movie has more padding than actual narrative, so you can enjoy things like a corned beef recipe, a bartender's problems with a guy named Maddog (neither character ever encounters Mr. Hush and thus have no connection to the main narrative at all), another character's explanation of how he accidentally poisoned his wife, Loree's musical tastes (he's said to be "stuck in 1988", yet Meat Loaf comes up as one of his favorites - Meat Loaf was in semi-retirement at that time and coaching little league; he didn't have a single real hit throughout the majority of the 80s), and a dream sequence where Loree talks to his grandmother, who clearly died before he was even born because she looks younger than he does. Oh, and after a few credits, the movie comes back and we're treated to a 4 minute scene of Dante from Clerks - a character we haven't met or even heard of, I must stress - driving around PA back-roads on his way to visit Holland, only to get lost and then killed off-screen by Mr. Hush's "Renfield", an annoying character played by Stephen Geoffreys (top-billed on the DVD box for what amounts to maybe 7 minutes of screentime). Really, the two wife-killing scenes, Hush's explanation, and the final battle are all that you need to see to get the whole story; everything else is just filler, not unlike The Room's random football playing scenes and breast cancer subplots.
Naturally, I was laughing out loud throughout the entire movie. The awkward performances and totally bonkers dialogue never stopped amusing me, and since the plot was so flimsy I never knew what was important and what was just filler until it was all over. It's like, "Maybe the bartender is connected to Mr. Hush, or perhaps he will come to Holland's rescue and sacrifice himself at the end, so these scenes where he just goes about his business will pay off- oh, nope, there are the end credits and we never saw him again after he yelled at Maddog, so I guess not." Said bartender is played by Steve Dash, best known for being screwed out of credit for playing Jason in Part 2 (the guy who got the credit was only in a few shots), so I guess he's just there to give the film some horror cred. So this stuff will be even funnier a second time around, because now I know it has no point whatsoever.
The DVD comes with some extra material that just adds to the near surreal experience that is this insane (but boring) movie. There's an intro to the film that is buried in the bonus features menu - note to the filmmakers and DVD producers: people don't usually check the bonus features for things they're supposed to watch before the movie starts, so if you want to include an intro, actually put it at the top of the movie like Lloyd Kaufman does on Troma DVDs (pretty sad to say "Do it right, like Lloyd Kaufman," I must admit). Then there are three trailers: the original, the theatrical (your guess is as good as mine what the difference is), and the DVD, none of which make the movie look particularly good. A blooper reel is there but nowhere near as amusing as the movie, and then there's a music video for the film's Huey Lewis-esque theme song, paying off Loree's character's 1988 obsession.
Then there's a commentary by the writer/producer/director (plus a half dozen other roles, as well as a very awkward cameo where he just makes weird faces while painted up like a Carnival of Souls extra) and the guy who played Mr. Hush. They sound like normal enough guys, so I'm puzzled why they couldn't channel some of that "human being" feeling into their movie, but either way it's a pretty dull track. They praise everyone over and over and talk about shooting locations, and gush about Fright Night a lot, but never seem to notice that their characters might as well be speaking in tongues.
I really wish I found totally gonzo nonsense like this more often. It's a terrible movie, but a memorably terrible one that entertained me start to finish, which is way better than an average/generic horror where I struggle to remember anything about it by the time it's time to write the review. Obviously you need to have a decent tolerance level for this sort of stuff, so if you're up for this peculiar brand of WTF (My Soul To Take would be another example of this "genre"), have at it! Everyone else, just enjoy this hilarious screenshot from the end credits and try to decide what's funnier - that cinematographer is spelled wrong, or that the entire sound department consists of one guy who handled "sound"?
What say you?