C. Dennis Moore and I are going to be doing movie reviews again - at least one per month. Maybe more, but at least one per month. He chooses a flick, I choose a flick, back and forth.
Many moons ago, we'd planned to do one per week. That didn't last. Real life schedules and whatnot.
So now we're deciding we can for sure handle one per month, and more is gravy.
Anyway, I'm reprinting out initial efforts as we gear up.
Here's our take on Shrooms, originally published Aug. 10, 2013.
My frequent collaborator C. Dennis Moore and I are doing weekly … or at least something approaching that… reviews of whatever one challenges the other to review that week. I’m the author of the novels Gray Lake and Death Sight, the first novel in my Will Castleton series. Dennis is the author of the novels Revelations and the Amazon #1 horror bestseller The Third Floor. His new book The Ghosts of Mertland is coming out in just a few weeks. Dennis has written more than 1,000 reviews, many of which are available in a series of books . I used to write reviews for the entertainment section of a newspaper. Together Dennis and I have co-written a short novel called Band of Gypsies and the priced-to-sell $.99 full-length story collection Terror Is Our Trade. Right now we’re working on a new Will Castleton novel called Return to Angel Hill. Each week (or whatever) Dennis and I will post both our own and each other’s reviews of the subject at hand to our respective blogs – you can find Mr. Moore’s blog over here. This week, Dennis picked:
DON’T DO SHROOMS – AT LEAST NOT THE MOVIE
by David Bain
One Star out of Five
I frankly don’t care what chemicals responsible adults put into their bodies, so if psilocybin’s your thing, hey, have a great trip, but don’t do Shrooms, the horror movie.
Some horror movies are just so by rote that all you really need to say about them is they contain every cliché parodied so successfully in Dale & Tucker vs. Evil.
Welcome to Shrooms.
You will find nothing new in Shrooms and, were I to go on at length about what you would not find new, my review of Shrooms would probably itself be rather cliché.
But okay, fine, one quick paragraph to prove I really did kill 90 grueling minutes of my waning time on this sorry-ass planet watching the movie. College kids vacationing in a remote location – this time, hey, Ireland! They do some transgressive thing they shouldn’t – in this case those wild Irish shrooms Ireland is so famous for! (And most of them end up doing their shrooms before the agreed-upon time, natch.) Nearby there’s an urban haunted legend asylum torture house building where something anniversary killing crazy nastiness lurking evil happened once upon a time ago. For some reason eating shrooms is supposed to make the horror badness demonic hellspawn of not-niceness return in full force. There’s a dumb frat boy, a virginal-ish pretty one, the dude who knows the ghost stories, some gibbering backwoods inbred yeehaws (albeit in this case Irish gibbering backwoods yeehaws) who exist for no other reason than to be gibbering backwoods inbred yeehaws, and some kids who have sex and are therefore offed first by the specter of the creeping shroomy hooded boogieman maniacal slayer ghost thing.
On the plus side, there’s some decent camerawork and special effects, some good images that might even be iconic in a better movie. The stars are pretty to look at and might even be decent actors if this were a decent film. The filmmakers obviously got some funding from somewhere, somehow. Who they lied to in order to get that money, I have no idea.
Anything else to say that’s positive? It has a talking cow. I guess there’s that. The talking cow even delivers an awesome line – but the line is only awesome because it’s, you know, delivered by a talking cow.
The ending. It kind of negates everything above, but really it doesn’t because by that point, who cares. The movie’s been so illogical – and not in the druggy, psychedelic way one might hope for, given the title – that the twist half of the viewers will see coming is really the only logical thing. Even though it’s not logical at all – the plot holes are bigger than any of the wounds suffered by the victims of the stalker killer badguy creeper doombringer serial murderer.
Now here’s a list of all the drug puns I intentionally left out of my review of Shrooms thus far.
Because to include them would have been adolescent of me.
Which is about the mindset you would need to enjoy this movie.
What I’m saying is, you would have to be on drugs to like Shrooms. Shrooms will damage your brain. You will never look at life the same way after Shrooms. Shrooms is a bad trip. You wouldn’t like Shrooms even if you were on shrooms. The makers of this movie must have been on shrooms to think their script was any good. I ain’t even getting started, but that’s more than enough. Okay, a few more: The only thing getting wasted was my time. This movie’s enough to make me do drugs. Cultivating a heroin or meth or crack habit might have been a smarter use of my time than doing Shrooms.
Two Stars out of Five
by C. Dennis Moore
What’s the worst part about SHROOMS? If you skip the obvious, that the premise is just plain ridiculous, then the worst part is the end, because it ended exactly how I figured it would. I watch so many bad movies because I’m constantly searching for that diamond in the rough that’s going to reward my efforts with something wholly original, an idea or a twist or a plot point that sparks something in me and inspires me. SHROOMS let me down on all counts.
And as for that ridiculous premise, the story starts with 5 American college kids who take a trip to Ireland with the sole purpose of tripping on mushrooms. Really? You have to fly to another country for that? I have a feeling if you can afford air fare to Ireland, you can probably afford some pretty good drugs in your own country. I mean you gotta have some seriously disposable income to do that.
So while the premise is stupid and the ending is predictable, maybe there are interesting characters, at least? Nope. Typical cutout characters here. Three girls and two guys (they’re meeting up with a third guy, who the main character, Tara–Lindsey Haun, “True Blood”–fancies, a local named Jake–Jack Huston, “Boardwalk Empire”–who knows where to get the shrooms). Tara is the pretty blonde with the heart of gold while the other two girls were totally interchangeable and hated each other. The American guys were also your clichés, one looks like the typical burnout while the other is the muscle head on steroids. Even his name is a cliché: Bluto. Bluto and the Burnout (coming Fridays this fall on NBC) also hate each other. So why exactly are these people traveling together?
Because if Tara had gone by herself, as was her original plan, there wouldn’t have been much of a body count, and without a body count, you can’t have a horror movie. Ergo, vis-à-vis, more characters have to be added.
Things are going alright at first as the gang splits up and goes in search of their mushrooms. Jake has given them a quick primer on how to spot the right ones, but it’s only after they’ve all split up that he realizes the death’s head mushrooms are also in season. The problem is, they look almost exactly like the mushrooms they’re hunting, except these have a little black dot on the cap. Good mushrooms equal awesome trip, bad mushrooms equal instant death.
However, in the event you survive and your heart doesn’t explode, Jake explains, you’re granted foresight and start having premonitions. Wait, where’s Tara? Not here? Wandered off? Oh well, she’ll probably be ok.
She is, in fact, ok. Until she finds a death’s head mushroom and, not having been there for the lesson, eats one. Wouldn’t you know it, she lives! It’s a Christmas miracle!
Later that night, while Tara is resting in the tent, Jake tells everyone else of the local legend. There was a boy’s home not far from where they’re camped out, and years ago one of the priests who ran the place, the Black Brother, was so despised by the boys he tortured and killed, that one day those boys filled his tea with death’s head mushrooms. But instead of killing him, it sent him on a rampage and he killed 78 people. The only bodies that were never found were the Black Brother and the boy who poisoned him, the Lonely Twin (a name so awesome I wish I had thought of it, it would make a great horror story character. Not THIS story, but, you know, a good story). Legend has it, they’re still living out here in these woods. Dun dun dun!!!!
They say any story should be able to be summed up in one sentence, “_____ is _____ meets _____”. It’s pretty obvious what inspirations Shrooms steals from where, it’s WRONG TURN meets _____. If I give that one away, though, it’ll make the ending even more predictable, and one of the only things that keeps you going during this movie is the hope that you might be wrong and there’s going to be an UNexpected twist there at the end.
SHROOMS was written by Pearse Elliot who also wrote exactly nothing you’ve heard of, while Paddy Breathnatch (WOW, that’s a name!) directed. Breathnatch works equally in documentaries and you’d think that background would condition someone to pay attention to things like logic and story flow, especially in trying to construct a sensible 90-minute narrative out of several hours of footage. Such is not the case with SHROOMS. This thing has more gaping plot holes than Morningside Cemetery (rimshot, thank you, I’ll be here all week!), and when you consider the ending they used, I can’t imagine they didn’t realize those holes were staring them in the face. Instead, it seems like they just didn’t care. They had their story, they had their “twist”, and that was enough justification for them to not have to worry about things like logic and the limits of time and space.
The acting was the equivalent of a rice cake. It’ll get the job done, but you’re not going to enjoy the experience and you’ll spend the entire time imagining it’s something else. Lindsey Haun as Tara looked like the poor man’s Kristen Bell with none of the charm while the only interesting person, Jack Huston, doesn’t get near enough screen time and is often overshadowed by the rest of the cast, none of whom were interesting or talented enough to bother naming here.
I had high hopes for this movie. It’s one of the first movies I added to my Netflix queue when I signed up, and I was really looking forward to it. For some reason I feel like I had read good things about it. If I did, I don’t recall what or where, but every time I would see the DVD somewhere I would think I need to see that movie. Turns out, no I really didn’t need to see it. At all, at all. In fact, the only plus to having finally watched it is that I can delete it from my queue and make room for something else. Hopefully this time it’s something good.