11 August 2008 | gavin6942
Would Have Been Great If the Effects Weren't So Awful
Photographer Leon Kauffman (Bradley Cooper) wants to break into the world of art. After a semi-rejection from an art mainstay (played by Brooke Shields), he delves deeper into the heart of New York, trying to get at its most gritty. He finds it: a butcher who he believes is kidnapping and killing people riding the last subway of the evening.
Fans of this Clive Barker short-story may be pleased. The screenwriter and director changed practically nothing from the story, simple adding and expanding certain parts to fill the time (the original story is roughly thirty pages). All the supernatural elements are there -- and more -- plus plenty of gore. Sadly, the film contains some CG gore where no CG was needed, which I not only dislike but found it even more obviously fake on the big screen. There is a notable scene with Ted Raimi (playing Randle Cooper) that could have been done with traditional effects but wasn't.
Aside from the CG concerns, I found the movie more likable than unlikable. Leon is a cool lead, his girlfriend is lovable and his friend is a good friend archetype. The butcher, Mahogany -- Vinnie Jones -- is a good choice for a killer, with a good actor. Jones showed his horror mettle in "Tooth and Nail", but I think he really comes out here with full power, looking very dapper in his suit.
Those who dislike mysteries may be left unfulfilled after this one. While it's a pretty straightforward tale, even after the supernatural elements start showing up, some aspects remain unanswered. I probably can't get into all of them now without spoiling the film, but I can speak of one: the objects in Mahogany's medicine cabinet are never explained. I have my own theory on what they are, but I could be wrong (the short story never touches on this).
I don't know if this is a film you need to see. Once it goes to video, it may be more likely to be a second or third choice. As of early August, it is the only horror film in theaters and therefore a must-see for those who crave a horror experience in the theaters. But by next week, "Mirrors" is coming and will probably overshadow this one. (I would like to scold the marketing people for keeping the publicity low, not releasing it to the main theaters, and more or less letting it die. This is not a blockbuster, but it's better than most of that straight-to-video fare. By not giving it a fair showing in theaters, you have sealed its fate.)