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Belittling Horror Excessively: Nine Dead02:52 AM -- Thu October 20, 2011

This is a movie review... I will not outright spoil things, but if you want to really experience a movie fresh and clean, there is information below that will dirty you up! So beware of mild semi-spoilers.

Synopsis: Somebody runs around town tasering and kidnapping people at random. Or is it random? The nine kidnappees wake up locked in a room together and are told that one will be killed every ten minutes until they can figure out why they are all there. Deaths ensue, at ten-minute intervals.

Scariness Type: There's gore, of course, due to all the shooting, but this really isn't a horror movie. It's a psychological thriller.

Rating: 4/5 Blue Masks.

Awarded: The Miss Manners Medal for jamming more racial slurs into one minute than a KKK rally. That's just one specific minute, most of the movie is not like that.

Good Stuff: A couple days ago, we got Topanga, and now it's Sabrina the Teenage Witch! Well, I don't know if that's really a good thing, but it happened (she didn't do badly at all, so good on her). There's also a Lesser Baldwin in a very tiny cameo. The good here is the movie. It was totally engaging. I even forgot I was going to get up and make dinner halfway through. The movie consists almost entirely of people in a blank room talking to each other, not even able to directly interact because they're handcuffed apart from each other, but that's all you need if you've got a fun script of things for them to say. I was kept guessing and thinking and evolving my opinions of the characters, and that's all good.

Bad Stuff: This may be a little controversial... You see, American movie casts are almost exclusively white, almost always with one or two token black people. The race of the black people usually comes into play in the movie in some small way, as it does with the token black guy in this movie. That's not usually too extreme, but it does kind of bother me how it always has to be an issue instead of just treating everyone the same. What gets me though, and is almost a constant in movies, is what happens if there is an Asian in the cast! Somehow, none of the other people can control themselves from spewing an endless stream of racist epithets. Well, there's always one who doesn't - The Virtuous Hero. These movies make it seem like keeping yourself from mocking Asians is an absolutely angelic trait, and hey, if you drop a few insults, well, we can't all be perfect! It's really honestly disgusting, and this movie lets it rip. It's to the extreme (in many movies, including this one) that it doesn't feel realistic at all. I don't know what your life is like, but the last time I heard someone publicly use an anti-Asian slur is absolutely memorable for me. It was a drunken rant by a frat boy in my freshman year of college. It was shocking enough that I remember it clearly thirteen years later. People just don't do that. Of course, I've never been handcuffed and threatened with death, maybe you get rude. Very specifically rude.

In other bad news, the ending of the movie was kind of a letdown. Not a big one, it had its twists and turns and excitement, but it felt like it should have been bigger. And most of all, the very last instant of the movie, as the credits roll, that part I don't understand at all... were they trying to set up a sequel? It didn't seem like it, it just seemed like they lost the footage of the scene that should've followed and just shrugged and shipped it out anyway. It's not even that what happens is wrong or too open-ended, just how they showed it, like they're fading out in the middle of a scene.

Classic Rules Of Film: If you are an evil person and you put a mask on, it will magically lower your voice three octaves and make you sound the same as every other serial killer. I even remember an episode of Bones where the killer in question was a woman and this worked. I think she used actual technology to do it rather than a rubber mask, though.

My Take: There are really two kinds of mystery stories. In one, the clues are there, and you can piece it together - they're usually far too obscure for you to do that until moments before the detective announces whodunnit, but it's theoretically possible. The other kind simply doesn't give you all the facts. You just hang around until the detective solves it and then say "ah, that was interesting!" I think the best mysteries in film are ones you can solve yourself. Both because you can feel smart if you do, and because even if you don't, you can still look back at the movie and say "oh right, I should've caught that!" That's a ton of fun, almost making a movie into a game.

Well, this movie is the latter kind. The information to solve the mystery is contained entirely in the characters' heads, and you aren't going to get it until they say it. But I won't complain too much, I had a blast watching the pieces gradually fall into place and being tantalized at ten-minute intervals with the thought that the solution was right around the corner. There's plenty of moments where you can still feel smart and figure things out, like noticing when somebody is holding back a key piece of information. It's fun, just good old-fashioned fun.

Artistic Nonsense: Fun is art! This is not high art of any sort, but it's fun.

Our next movie is The Last Exorcism, which has an intriguing premise. A priest is letting his last exorcism be filmed, where he plans to unveil how he's been faking them all along. Of course, you know what happens next.
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