Netflix Roulette: The Damned

I can’t believe it’s been five days since I last watched a movie for the blog… I also can’t believe that, that movie was Devi’s Pass. It felt great to get back into the swing of things this morning… at least it did until I got about thirty minutes into the film Netflix Roulette chose for me. I guess I’ll start off by saying that The Damned was not as bad as Devil’s Pass. In fact, I would say that The Damned was a fairly well written, shot, structured, and paced horror movie… at the end of the day, though, I found it thoroughly boring. It so adeptly hit every beat of a typical horror movie that, at times, it felt like listening to a Beatles cover band playing a classic in a structural flawless manner, that lacks soul. That being said, there were a couple of things (okay, really one thing) that I think the filmmakers did that was interesting. More on that in a minute… first, though, let me give you a quick synopsis.

The Damned (originally titled Gallows Hill, which, in the end, might have actually made this movie better…the new title is even boring) is a 2013 Spanish/Columbian possession-horror film. It stars… well, the only person I recognized was Peter Facinelli, of Can’t Hardly Wait fame (Mike Dexter!). He plays a father of an 18 year old woman… I need to hit the pause button here… I feel like this blog is quickly becoming an analysis of my drift into the decrepitude of age… how can it be that Mike Dexter (I know that’s the character’s name, but let’s be serious, what else would you call him) is old enough to play a father… to an 18 year old, non-the-less! Where was I? Right… trying to briefly (at least as brief as I’m able to be… which, is closer to verbose than most) summarize the plot of this film. Pardon me if I nod off while recounting the major plot-points. So, the father comes to Columbia with his fiancé to bring his daughter (with aunt and boyfriend in tow) back to the United States for his wedding (and school… apparently). On the way to her aunt’s house (to get the daughter’s passport) the group becomes stranded in a rainstorm. They take refuge in a spooky house with a spooky resident and spooky basement… spooky! After a few minutes of your prerequisite tension-building the daughter and her boyfriend peel off from the group and discover a little girl who is locked up in the basement. They release her… and something else… *dum, dum, dum*. Mayhem ensues…

This movie hits every. single. pretense. of your basic possession movie. Creepy kid, check… creepy dolls, check… gross bugs, check… a mirror jump-scare, check… people bending in seemingly impossible way, check. The plot is completely unsurprising… for any seasoned horror-movie aficionado (and by seasoned, I mean, anyone who’s seen at least one horror movie) you knew what was coming… at every single moment. This was especially frustrating since the characters were in the dark (mostly figuratively, it was actually quite well lit in most scenes that took place outside of the basement) for a majority of the film. Halfway through the film, a glass in my sink mysteriously shifted, fell over and clanked… it didn’t even faze me… I literally just kept watching the movie and went “hmmmm, weird”… that is not a good sign for the movie (also, my apartment may be haunted… clearly I need to move away from the haunted house/possession films). There was a bit of neat stuff in the last fifteen minutes or so, but nothing so cool that it justifies the slog through the first hour and fifteen minutes of the film. For a movie with so little going on, it felt a bit rushed. They spent so much time trying (and failing) to create atmosphere that once we got down to the nitty-gritty of the possession and the lore, the movie was all but over. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the movie should be longer (dear god, no!) just that they could have introduced some of the more interesting elements earlier.

I know I said I was going to keep this blog positive… well, clearly after the last two movies, that’s gone out the window. I guess it’s time to readjust. So, here’s my new plan: I may not be able to keep everything positive, but I will try to find at least one redeeming quality of every movie I watch and end on that. Let’s get started…

It actually wasn’t that hard for me to find something neat about The Damned. It was one of the first notes I made while watching the movie. The mixed use of English and Spanish (probably because it was a Columbian/Spanish production) felt honest. What I mean by this is when two Spanish speaking characters were talking with one another they were speaking in Spanish (with subtitles). Also, several of the characters were bi-lingual (actually, they all were except for the father and his fiancé). Therefore, in some scenes they would translators, subtitles, or a mix of Spanish and English. This added a sense of realism to the film (which was sorely needed). This was used to good effect in one scene in particular. Specifically, the two non-Spanish speakers are in a room with an individual who is only speaking in Spanish. In this scene, since the main characters cannot understand the third character, no subtitles are provided. The filmmakers clearly knew that a large proportion of the audience would be non-Spanish speaking Americans (myself included) and used this scene to make them feel more connected with the main character.

Well, that’s enough for now… I need to prepare myself for tonight’s viewing of Human Centipede III (Final Sequence)… gross…

me

2 thoughts on “Netflix Roulette: The Damned

  1. Yup. I had watched this before, but I forgot about it. I had given it 2 stars, but I couldn’t recall any of the events you were writing about. Sooo…I watched it again.

    The whole movie I’m saying to myself, “but this is kinda good. Decent effects, decent story line, etc.” But then you’re right, the movie just sort of happens. No real “gotcha” moments. Once the credits started rolling I felt like I watched a Movie, the end.

    Like

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