DIRECTED BY: Pearry Reginald Teo
FEATURING: Layton Matthews, Chad Grimes, Santiago Craig
PLOT:Various characters lives entangle when the gateways to Hell open. They seek lost loved ones or retribution, which can be granted by learning the mysteries of a Ouija board… carved into human flesh. Of course there is a price to pay, and it isn’t pretty.
WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: It is an unoriginal and ho-hum horror movie. Once you get past the human Ouija board, all you are left with are uninteresting characters and standard “torture porn” clichés. Almost nothing is overtly weird, and nothing is exactly new either.
COMMENTS: I keep waiting for a new horror movie that is going to knock me for a loop. “Torture porn” and the recent resurgence of vampire lore has overstayed its welcome. For a genre that seemingly has unlimited weirdness potential, horror usually churns out the same old recycled thing. I caught the trailers for Necromentia a year ago and it looked dark, exciting and new. It should come as no surprise, but in fact, it was a huge let down.
The box cover declares this movie to be a cross between Saw and Hellraiser, but “better than both.” Um, no. During my younger years, I ate up Clive Barker’s twisted visions. Barker was the more dangerous Stephen King, focusing on horrors of the flesh and demons straight from Hell. Necromentia borrows heavily from Barker’s “Hellbound Heart” which eventually was adapted into Hellraiser (instead of using a puzzle box, the filmmakers decide to open up Hell by carving a Ouija board onto someone’s back). The iconic villain Pinhead is poorly replaced by a dude wearing a gas mask and cranial-halo headgear screwed into place. Even a summoned demon is an updated Hellraiser Cenobite… it’s the Chatterer, on steroids! Necromentia is a blatant rip-off in many regards.
We have four central characters: Hagen, who longs to bring his lover back from the dead; Travis, who wants to join his handicapped brother in the afterlife; Morbius, who is bent on revenge against those who have betrayed him; and Mr. Skinny, the mysterious figure who holds the secrets to the Ouija board. Their stories come together by the end, but by that time I couldn’t have cared less about any of them.
There were obvious budgetary limitations. The gateway to Hell is seen as a long corridor that could be any old building’s underground tunnel leading to the boiler room. The props for torture are the usual mutilation tools: hooks, chains, and primitive (but admittedly cool-looking) multi-bladed medical equipment. It gets gory for sure. Precise cuts penetrate skin. There’s a realistic severed pinky. At one point, we are supposed to be shocked that a female character is not being tortured against her will, but is actually paying for this pain. Those crazy sadomasochists! One character, who tortures while striking Christ-like poses, is trying to kick heroin (because that’s obviously worse than torturing people). And you have scenes of disemboweling and intestines being paraded around. Are you starting to get the idea?
If this movie has anything that remotely flirts with weirdness, it comes in the form of a character wearing a pig mask manically playing a piano while reciting a song to entice a handicapped boy to commit suicide. It’s a weird little scene thrown in the mix with a hallucinatory atmosphere captured by warped camerawork. But as far as suicide ditties go, it doesn’t hold a candle to the catchiness of Big Fun’s “Teenage Suicide (Don’t Do It)” in Heathers.
As much as I kind of liked this scene, I couldn’t help thinking how cool it would be if Pinhead came into the picture and began tearing this pigman apart, or maybe just dismembered the generic gas mask man. I quote from Hellraiser: “The suffering…the sweet suffering.” I suffered watching Necromentia, but it sure as hell wasn’t sweet.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:
(This movie was nominated for review by reader “dclxvi” [we’re pretty sure, although he called it “Necromania“]. Suggest a weird movie of your own here.)