2 December 2007 | BA_Harrison
It maketh me laugh and haveth much gore, but it still stinketh!
With his early, (very) low-budget splatter films, Olaf Ittenbach proved that he could make a well constructed horror movie, despite technical limitations and a cast that obviously needed a few more acting lessons. Therefore, since it had a larger budget, I was hoping that Chain Reaction would be a leap forward in terms of overall quality for the German master of gore. But apart from a some flashy CGI credits, a few crashes, and the presence of a 'real' actor (Jurgen Prochnow), not a lot has changed. In fact, to be honest, the acting is actually worse than usual, and the script... well, it maketh me laugh!
A dead crow drops from a tree to the ground and dislodges a rock, which hits a car (belonging to a doctor), that crashes into a bus-load of violent criminals, who escape into the woods (taking the doctor hostage) and eventually wind up in a house occupied by weird religious folk (who speaketh in ye olde dialect), who then transform into flesh-eating demons. Phew!
To be fair, I like the initial premisethat something as insignificant as a dead bird falling from a tree can set off a series of dreadful eventsbut unfortunately, so does Ittenbach. A lot. So much so, that he uses the idea three times within his film! After his captors are all killed, the good doctor escapes, only to run into the arms of the law, who suspect him of foul play and decide to keep him under lock and key whilst they investigate.
The doctor is put on a DOC bus to be transferred to jail, and, guess what happens..... that's righta dead crow drops from a tree to the ground and dislodges a rock, which hits a car, that crashes into the bus-load of violent criminals... and so on.
And when a third dead crow causes even more trouble later on, one wonders whether it might be wise just to cut down all of the trees along this stretch of road, to bring down the accident rate.
As always with an Ittenbach film, there is plenty of gruesome gore on display (with some very nasty crushed heads being the most sickening of these), but with quite a long running time, there are also periods in which the film is just too 'dry'. Some of these moments offer some (presumably) unintentional laughs (the aforementioned olde English spoken by the demon people is hilarious), but other parts are just plain dull. Jurgen Prochnow is given nothing much to do, there is lots of mundane chit-chat, and the whole 'deja-vu' angle quickly starts to irritate.
Ittenbach is a director who has shown a lot of promise in the past; he certainly knows how to put together a decent gore scene. Perhaps, in future, if he gets a reasonable amount of dosh to spend, he should invest in a decent scriptwriter and get a better cast. I'm sure he has a horror 'classic' somewhere up his sleeve, however, on the strength of this effort, it's hard to believe.