TROUBLE CITY

DVD REVIEW: MARSH, THE

Home VideoJosh KatzComment

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STUDIO: Sony
MSRP: $24.96
RATED: R
RUNNING TIME: 92 Minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES:
• Behind the Scenes Featurette


The Pitch

“It’s J-Horror, see! Except it’s in English! So then it’s…E-Horror!”

The Humans

Gabrielle Anwar, Justin Louis, Forest Whitaker, William Cuddy, Joe Dinicol

The Nutshell

Claire Holloway, the author of a series of successful children's books, is tortured, by visions of violence and death haunt Claire. Seeking relief from the terror, she decides to stay at the Rose Marsh Farmhouse in the countryside, which looks suspiciously like the house she sees in her nightmares.

How the fuck did anyone deem this a good idea?


When Academy-Award winning actor Forest Whitaker tells you to let him videotape you masturbating, you do it.


The Lowdown

Sometimes I wish the remake of The Ring had failed at the box office. Not because it wasn’t well directed (it was) or well-acted (thank you, Ms. Naomi Watts!) or scary (drowned girls with long hair make me pee a little), but because its success caused some fucking suit at a studio to think that we needed more crappy J-Horror rip-offs. And they’ve all been bad, whether they’ve been shit-stain remakes (The Grudge, Pulse, Dark Water) or “original” works like this cum-stain here.

Didn’t care for the “film” much. Can you tell?


This is a poorly written, poorly shot, badly acted, and ridiculous unscary scary-movie that bends over backwards trying to emulate all the other J-Horror wannabes, and all it ends up doing is sniffing its own gooch. If it wanted to be campy and goofy, that might’ve helped, but oh no! Not this one! “Serious” is the secret word, and don’t you forget it.


But honestly, how can you take a horror movie seriously when you being with this premise: a haunted children’s literature author. Really? That the best you guys can do? There’s nothing remotely believable about that, and it seems to have been constructed to a) give the filmmakers ample excuses to use shadowy, half-glimpsed shots of kids and “creepy” kid laughter in an effort to generate terror (again, if it worked in The Ring, why not here?), and b) allow lead Anwar multiple opportunities to look “tortured” (read: grumpy) while popping pills and seeing visions. Gabby: you starred in For Love or Money. You can’t play tortured. Sorry to break it to you. If Al Pacino wants to pretend to be blind and then tango, we’ll call you. And her main dramatic thrust, the whole reason the movie exists, is massively retarded! Tell me, Dear Reader. If you were having frightening visions all centering around a spooky farmhouse, would you:


1) Chillax and buy a couple tickets to Sandals, Jamaica and trip the life fantastic.


2) Spend the weekend in a creepy place that bears a striking resemblance to the place from your dreams.


If you answered 2), you may be brain-dead enough to appreciate this flick. For the life of me, seeking out a foreboding country-home to exorcise my own personal demons seems unbelievably contrived/misguided/dumbass unless you drive around in the Mystery Machine, but what do I know? I just review DVDs for a living (and infrequently). I run from terror, rather than seek it out! Dumb Fucking Me!


A clip of Whitaker single-handedly re-enacting Charles S. Dutton's death scene in Alien 3.


But that’s just Problem One here. Let’s see what’s behind Door 2. Ah, it’s Justin Louis’ “character,” the hunky local fellow who assists Anwar. Being that the only originality on display here was the filmmakers securing an Academy-Award winner to grace the flick with his presence, I’ll go and wager that Louis is either a) a blandly handsome love interest with little purpose than to look good shirtless or b) a blandly handsome love interest who is in on all the spooky doings to add “intrigue” to the rich plot. You got a 50/50 shot here, but it really doesn’t matter either way.


All of this wouldn’t matter if the movie was scary. I’ve been watching the great new Mario Bava Box Set (buy it from Amazon here!), and the acting and plots there are just as stupid. The trick is, Bava’s a good enough visual stylist and storyteller so that that shit doesn’t matter one iota; he moves things along just fine on the atmospheric strength of the cinematography and the still-potent and grisly shocks he peppers his oeuvre with. For The Marsh, there’s no atmosphere, just flat, way-too-bright lighting and Sci-Fi Channel production values, and the same basic formula is applied over and over again. 1) Creepy children. 2) Anwar investigates. 3) Finds nothing. 4) JUMP-SCARE!!! 5) She wakes up, it all being a dream (or was it?). Repeat. Over and over, I tell you! And it’s not scary; it’s just repetitive and stupid once you crack the formula.


This film isn’t scary. It’s stupid, and a waste, and a boring one at that. I don’t wanna see anymore stupid J-Horror rip-offs like this for a while. I just can’t take it.


Oh yeah…One last thing…


I was going to rag on Forest Whitaker a little for showing up in this. Make fun of what poor taste he has to do this right before his career-best work in Last King of Scotland and The Shield. Mock his inexplicable, intermittent Southern accent in the flick.  But you know what? I’m not going to. Whitaker’s a fine actor, and he looks appropriately embarrassed to be here (in the Zelda Rubenstein role, no less).


Plus, remember, he did do Species, too. So nobody’s perfect.


The Package

At least this bad boy looks and sounds good. The picture’s sharp and clear enough to make you wish it didn't resemble a sitcom, and the sound kicks in like a pro when the shit hits the fan. The cover’s shite, though; floating heads over spooky woods: I’m guessing five minutes in Photoshop.

We get one special feature, a surprisingly thorough "Behind the Scenes" piece. It’s good and has lots of info, but to paraphrase Jon Stewart, if Jeffery Dahmer shows up to your bar mitzvah, and he’s a really good dancer—he’s still Jeffrey Dahmer. Don’t know how that applies, but it feels right to me.


You want to know how not scary this is? The Family Guy episode parodying Poltergeist is ten times more frightening than this POS. ‘Nuff said.


"Look at what you did, kid!  You fucked up.  When I tell you to dump a body in the marsh, you dump him in the marsh, not where some guy from John Hancock goes every Thursday TO GET A FUCKING BLOWJOB!!!"


2.5 out of 10