SEED


Director: Uwe Boll (2007)
Starring: Michael Pare, Will Sanderson, Ralf Moeller
Find it online: IMDB, Amazon

Watching Uwe Boll’s serial-killer opus Seed, one gets the impression that the good doctor was entirely pissed off when writing/directing his latest shit-fest. Seed – not, unusually, based on a video game – is the least worst movie of the German director’s career. It is also, without a doubt, the most violent and nihilistic thing he’s ever made; it’s far more offensive than Postal tried to be, and is completely, utterly humourless. It’s as if Boll, pissed off with the criticism and bad reception, went out and shat a whole load of fuck and bile into his word-processor; the pure blood, sweat and tears evidently poured into Seed was obviously intended to show us all; Raging Boll indeed.

After that first paragraph, you might expect a good review to follow. Much as my fear of a beating from the notorious boxer-cum-bad-director is great, my hate for Seed is more. Like I said, Seed is the least-worst movie on Boll’s CV (note: this review was written prior to his far superior Rampage) . Unfortunately, that’s like saying Cheryl Cole is the least-worst Girl Aloud. Seed is as much a terrible movie in its own right as Cheryl Cole is still a cretinous noise when not surrounded by fellow bad singers.

Anyway, onto the plot. The titular Maxwell Seed is a particularly nasty serial killer (666 victims to date) who enjoys taunting the cops with videos of his victims in various states of being dead. Eventually, Seed is captured by detective Bishop (Michael Pare), convicted of his crimes, and sentenced to fry in the electric chair. Due to a faulty chair, Seed is buried alive. Inevitably, the serial killer digs himself up, and sets about wreaking bloody vengeance.

Mistaking violence and gore for plot and suspense, Boll fills his film with plenty of sadistic, gruesome and bloody imagery; real-life PETA footage, multiple baby murder and (attempted) man-rape are all present and accounted for, along with a whole bunch of torture porn guff. The nadir would be a lengthy, uncut scene in which Seed repeatedly hammers a victim around the face with a hatchet, his blows getting increasingly harder with each strike. Such a scene is representative of Seed as a whole, really; the audience hammered repeatedly around the face with one stupid idea after another.

Unlike most of his other films, Boll has tried to imbue Seed with a message. And it really is a doozy. Mankind, see, isn’t very nice. The resulting film has very little to say. Outside of the (admittedly shocking) violence, Seed has nowhere to go and nothing to do. So the serial killer wanders around for a bit, with a little bit of torture here, and a smidgin of brutality there, until the whole thing just ends

Just like that. It runs out of things to say, and the movie ends on an abrupt, obviously sequel-baiting note. It’s a pointless exercise in cynicism and self-assured fury. Seed may be one of the most technically good of all Boll’s films, but it’s also the easiest to hate.


The Happening

At no point does any image this interesting appear during The Crappening

Director: M Night Shyamalan (2008)
Starring: Marky Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo
Find it online: IMDB, Amazon

Funniest comedy of the year. Except for the bits which are meant to be funny, which aren’t. Basically, people start to go nuts for no apparent reason, and commit suicide in increasingly hilarious ways (yes, I laughed when the dude ran himself over with the lawnmower). Think 28 Days Later, Steven King’s Cell or The Signal, except more self-destructive. And stupid. Yes, this movie is stupider than the (incredibly stupid) latter stages of Cell.

M. Night Shyamalan, who was once a director of decent films, brings you his first R-rated effort. Some say The Happening is surprisingly good. Some say that Shyamalan’s gone darker, more cynical in his world view. This is because some those same people have lowered their expectations to subterranean levels. The Happening is, without a doubt, one of the worst movies to come out this year. It is the worst movie on Shyamalan’s CV (yes, worse than the one about the village and the one about the fish lady). It is also the funniest spoof movie since Scary Movie… in fact, if he’d given roles to Leslie Nielsen and maybe Charlie Sheen, then you’d have Scary Movie 5.

So people start killing themselves (I was in tears of laughter as construction workers started flinging themselves off’ve rooftops) and fearful survivors try to flee the city. We follow Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel and John Leguizamo (plus child) as they try to escape before going the way of the lemming.

At first glance, the cast seems serviceable enough. Wahlberg and Deschanel are usually watchable, at least, while Leguizamo can make even a movie about CGI animals bearable, if not fun. Here, however, they are all universally appalling. Marky Mark delivers a career-low performance, making one wonder how on Earth he got himself nominated for an Oscar. Deschanel, meanwhile, seems to be on a different planet throughout. Although she’d have to be stoned to have read the script and thought it a good idea. Leguizamo, finally, is on autopilot. For the little time he’s onscreen, he looks as if he’s calling in his performance from the set of Ice Age 3, whilst wishing he was in a decent film… like Land of the Dead (which has its detractors, but is infinitely better than this).

Although you can’t blame the actors. They do the best they can with such an atrocious script. Well, no, they don’t… but it’s hard to feel real animosity towards anyone mentally deficient enough to read The Happening and think it was a good idea.

It’s hard to pick out the worst parts of Shyamalan’s self-penned script. Certainly, Wahlberg’s reaction to the deaths of his travelling companions is particularly laughable (“oh no”, delivered with all the dramatic power of someone who’s spilt coffee). Shyamalan mustn’t get out much, because his depiction of real people is achingly awful.

But the lows of the acting and the script are nothing compared to the plot itself. Basically, the trees are behind it all. Yeah, you read that right, the trees (or, more accurately, nature) are killing people by making them commit suicide. I’d like to say that this is a good concept in theory, but it isn’t. It just smacks of cheese and corn. Corny cheesiness. It also leads to scenes of our heroes running from the wind and talking to potted plants. Yup, Mark Wahlberg gets out-acted by a potted plant. And a plastic one, at that.

Incidentally, the potted plant scene was supposed to be intentionally funny, or so I’m told. Unfortunately, I found it genuinely hard to tell, due to the inherent hilariousness of the whole concept. Evil plants are harder to buy into than Mel Gibson not playing an anti-Semite. I really think Shyamalan should have gone the whole hog and just had walking trees (ala Lord of the Rings) beating the crap out of Wahlberg for two hours.

Other moments of “humour” fall flat too. There’s a hippy type talking about how much he loves hotdogs, and a scene where Marky Mark diatribes about buying medicine he didn’t really need. Without a doubt, the funniest part was a car crash that’d occurred about half an hour ago. Interestingly enough, that’s a pretty decent metaphor for the movie and for Shyamalan’s career in general.

If you only watch one movie about killer plants (in your whole lifetime) then I wholeheartedly recommend The Happening: aka Little Shop of Horrors 2. At the very least, it’s a better spoof horror movie than the Scary Movies.