Catacombs – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Thank you Saw.

The little franchise that could has spawned sequel after sequel. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, mind you. I enjoyed all of the Saw sequels. What’s getting annoying is the “By the creators of Saw!” and “The people who brought you Saw!” claims that are popping up on horror films. Even more annoying is that as a fan of Saw, I buy into these claims. Maybe this movie will be as gory? Maybe it will have a cool twist? I always ask myself. Sadly, as was the case with Drive-Thru and Dead Silence, I was met with disappointment.

Victoria (Shannyn Sossamon, A Knight’s Tale, Rules of Attraction) is a pill-popping loner who gets a random postcard from her sister Carolyn (Alecia Moore aka Pink) who is studying in Paris. “Come to Paris. It will be good for you.” Is all it reads. Victoria takes the advice and finds herself on a plane to Paris. She is exhausted when she arrives, but Carolyn insists that they have to get ready for a party that night and takes her around the city to see the sights and to shop for a new outfit for the party. It appears that Carolyn has a bit of a morbid side. When Victoria is hesitant to walk up the desolate staircase that leads to Carolyn’s apartment, Carolyn tells her a story of a serial killer who lived in her apartment and killed everyone in the building. Only to laugh when it’s over and tease her sister, saying that it’s only a story and to lighten up.

Lighten up? When you’re creeping her out like that?

The two go to the party with Carolyn’s equally morbid friends, only this is not your ordinary rave. It’s a rave in the catacombs of Paris: a mass grave site where millions of bodies are buried among miles and miles of winding passageways and tunnels. There are hundreds of people down there partying, but something lurks in those passageways. Something…stupid.

What really made me mad about this movie is that it has such potential. The catacombs of Paris? That’s a really clever location for a horror movie. The back story of the “killer” was even excusable. It was far-fetched but still, I could believe it for the sake of the movie. Then Catacombs spends the majority of its run time in the dark with a close up on Victoria running and getting lost. And running and sweating. And running and oh no, her flashlight won’t work. And running and falling. And running and crying. It gets very old. Maybe had they done something to create a better sense of claustrophobia or paranoia, but they don’t. She looked more bored than scared. And then there’s the inevitable twist ending. As lame as the twist was, it wasn’t nearly as lame as the rest of the movie – so in context, I actually liked it. It did make me go back and think about the movie and how the events that happened had led up to the twist. So in that light, it was an effective twist to the story. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still lame.

The cast was made up of unknowns, save Shannyn Sossamon and Alecia Moore. Neither of them bring anything worthwhile to their characters. Sossamon has been an actress that I’ve enjoyed watching, only because she’s been in films that I’ve liked. There hasn’t been too much about her that stands out except for her looks. She’s gorgeous and mysterious looking. That doesn’t help her too much in this film. Alecia Moore aka Pink is in her first starring role here. As much as I love Pink, her acting is way overdone. Like a junior high kid in theater class, her delivery is way too enthusiastic.

As for you gorehounds, you will be extremely let down by Catacombs. There is almost no gore. Only a scene that seemed ridiculously out of place in its attempt to be shocking. It is shocking, I suppose. I muttered an “eeewww” while watching it. This is during the description of the “killer” and his origins. There is no nudity either.

Catacombs is another notch in the belt of the “people who brought us Saw“, created by them, for them. Nothing much is offered to the audience this time around.

Your choice of either a 5.1 surround sound or 2.0 stereo mix. Honestly, the sound was pretty good. The music tracks that play during the party scenes sound great. Visually, the film is not pretty, but that’s exactly what you’d expect from people who have a history of making gritty movies. Still, this film is shot mostly in the dark and it looked really grainy.

There is a Behind the Scenes featurette in which Pink excitedly talks about how this movie is so much smarter than other horror films. This is very short, not more than 10 minutes.

Also, a short making the music video featurette.

Commentary by the two directors is provided.

Previews
before the film included The Eye, Saw IV, Killer Pad, Born Killers, Boy Eats Girl, Wristcutters: A Love Story, and an ad for fearnet.com.

Despite having an intriguing premise and lots of potential, like the characters in the film, Catacombs gets lost in the dark.

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Lionsgate presents Catacombs. Directed by David Elliott and Tomm Coker. Starring Shannyn Sossamon, Alecia (Pink) Moore. Written by David Elliott and Tomm Coker. Running time: 90 minutes. Rated R. Released on DVD: February 19, 2008. Available at Amazon.com.