Monday, April 19, 2010

'Nine Lives' isn't worth part of one life

Nine Lives (2002)
Starring: Amelia Warner, David Nicolle, and Paris Hilton
Director: Andrew Green
Rating: Three of Ten Stars

A group of idle rich college friends get together at a remote Scottish manor house to celebrate a birthday party. However, when one of them discovers an old book that has been hidden for centuries, a restless, murderous spirit is unleashed. One by one, the friends start dying.

"Nine Lives" had the potential to be at the very least an average slasherflick. It's got a great location, it's got a cast of talented young actors and actresses (although Paris Hilton basically seems to be playing herself... but she does a better job at it than, oh, 50 Cent did), and it's got an interesting threat. However, just about everything about the film is executed badly, and the result if a movie that's more boring than scary.

Every horror film has to have pointless bickering among the characters, but in "Nine Lives", the pointless bickering is excessive, repetative, and drones on and on and on. The film relies more on Stupid Character Syndrome (where characters do idiotic things because if they didn't, the plot would grind to a halt and everyone would be safe from the monster) than any other movie I think I've seen. A couple of the worst examples:

*The characters think a room that's got giant windows and French doors along the entire outer wall is a safe place to "lock" themselves in.

*They IMMEDIATELY split up into small groups to search the house, and the idiocy that is compounded upon this is so gross that words fail me).

Aside from inadvertantly painting its protaganists as Gold Medal winners in the Upperclass Twit Olympics, the script for "Nine Lives" has the further problem of not explaining the "why" of the angry ghost. How did it come to be in the book? How did being housed in burned out pages relate to his eyes being plucked out and force-fed to him? Who made the book? (The implication is that it was the Angry Ghost himself, but that makes absolutely no sense.) How did reading it release the Angry Ghost? Why did it jump from person to person in the way that it did? Why did the screenwriter not bother giving the Angry Ghost some personality toward the end? Did the filmmakers really think the voice-over bit in the end was a decent wrap-up to the film, or make any sense as to what came before it?

"Nine Lives" also commits one of the greatest sins of the modern slasher flick: It has boring kills. Characters get stabbed, they fall down, and they die. That's it. That's simply not good enough, iif you already have a story that relies on the characters being braindead to work and you have a killer than makes Michael Myers look like he has a magnetic personality.

Like so many substandard horror movies, "Nine Lives" is first and foremost a parade of missed opportunities. It's particularly sad to see it happen here, because of the good cast and the nice set-up.

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