When it comes to
movies, there is nothing more enticing to American audiences than
ritualistic human sacrifice (that is, next to The Lord of the Rings).
Amazingly, Warlock Moon takes a sure-fire
plot device and somehow manages to drop the ball.
Not only do they drop the ball, but then kick it into the cranky
neighbor’s yard. You know,
the one with the snarling pit bull with blood-red eyes that dare you to
jump the back fence. In
simpler terms: Warlock
I’ll try to relay
the story to you, but there’s not much to it.
In fact, there’s not enough in this movie to actually warrant a
review. Being a servant of
the people, however, I feel morally obligated to warn you of this
Jenny and John are
young lovers. John is an
aspiring newspaper reporter, and Jenny is an aspiring…I don’t know,
wife to a newspaper reporter, I guess.
One day, while driving
through the country looking for the perfect picnic spot, Jenny and John
happen across a deserted health spa in the middle of nowhere.
Being young, adventurous and alive with pleasure, they decide to
explore. Inside the compound
they meet a kind elderly woman, a kind elderly hunter, and two guys with
axes who are neither kind nor elderly.
Oh, and there’s also a random wandering ghost that enjoys
laughing maniacally whenever the mood takes her.
Over the course of a
few days (which, despite the proposed 75 minute running time, feels like
the actual length of Warlock Moon), Jenny learns that the spa was
shut down due to a problem concerning cannibals with a penchant for
ritualistic human sacrifice (which are, of course, the peskiest of
Sure enough, Jenny
soon discovers that the old woman, the axemen and –SURPRISE – John
are, in fact, said cannibals. Not
only did they manage to lure Jenny into a satanic ritual, but they managed
to do it in the most obtuse way possible (they rely heavily on a boatload
of coincidences for their ingenious-yet retarded-plan to work).
manages to escape. Later, she
returns to the scene of the crime with the local po-dunk police, but lo
and behold, all they find is a deserted spa.
Naturally, being hillbilly cops (Y’all ain’t from around
here,”), they think that Jenny has been smoking a few too many
left-handed cigarettes. They
search her car and, oddly enough, find a stash of grass.
They arrest Jenny and throw her in jail, where, of course, her
cellmate is the old lady cannibal. She
cackles something to the effect of “I’m a wild ‘n’ crazy
cannibal!” and brandishes a knife. Jenny screams, freeze frame, the end.
A turd. And sadder
still, it seemed the filmmakers had a couple good ideas.
A cavernous, deserted spa in the middle of nowhere provided a
promising foundation. I think
there was an attempt to rely on subtle, creepier scares as opposed to
excessive gore and shocking the senses. The implied is usually scarier than what is actually shown,
but it must be handled with precision.
A deliberately-paced, atmospehric horror film (i.e. Robert Wise’s
The Haunting) can quickly turn boring and tedious (i.e. Warlock
On a happier note,
the acting wasn’t atrocious (which is kinda like having your tonsils
removed for the sake of eating ice cream).
Although Danny (Joe Spano of Hill Street Blues) does get a
little annoying at times, he is charismatic nonetheless.
Jennie (Laurie Walters of Eight is Enough fame) does well
with what little she is given.
aside, could Warlock Moon have been saved? Not a chance (outside of
simply destroying the print to save face).
But there is, however, something to be learned:
Tea parties are never, ever scary.
And do you know what’s even less scary?
Multiple tea parties. Warlock
Moon features two lengthy tea parties, complete with snack cakes and
small talk. To be honest,
I’m not big on parties in real life.
I sure as hell don’t want to watch a movie about one (or two, as
the case may be).
It all boils down to
padding out a film. If you
don’t have enough material to make a full-length feature, then make a
short. Or, in the case of Warlock
Moon, make nothing at all.
Copyright 2003, J. Bannerman