Imagine this plot that you've seen and heard 1000 times: gritty guy who is a loner and outsider somehow gets involved in a series of grisly murders. He also gets involved with a girl who is involved with the series of deaths (and she knows something more about the murders than she initially lets on) and he slowly figures out what is going on, which is usually some super evil group led by one enigmatic figure.
How many movies did I just describe? A whole hell of a lot. The dark mystery man in this is Nix, who is supposedly dead. The girl who is involved is Dorothea, played by Famke Janssen, the investigator dude is Scott Bakula as Harry D'Amour, and lastly Kevin J. O'Connor as Philip Swann, the shrimpy guy that is essentially good at heart. So, we do have a great cast!
I'm going to spend most of this review trying to think why I did not like this, nor did I like Nightbreed especially much. Both written and directed by Clive Barker, both from the 90's and using practical monster effects, starring real actors and high budget enough to not look cheap. Cult writer, good effects, good time frame they came out in... Plus, Barker was a good director. he proved that by his first film, Hellraiser, which is not only a movie everyone loves, but a true test-of-time classic. So how does this movie not feel as good?
Well, first and foremost it is the plot. The cliche. I've seen this exact idea tons of times, it's just that in this one it's dressed up with a little bit more blood and an R rating. Originality aside, I think the pacing is also a huge factor. Each one of these two movies is almost 2 hours, and since they're both more of mystery suspense movies, that makes sense...but the plots do drag, and there's a lot of dialogue going on. Plus, it has that feel of scripted. You can tell when you're watching something if it feels really rigid in it's development. This feels like that.
It's kind of like HP Lovecraft. What sounds great on paper doesn't always translate to screen, I think. The vibe is lost, unless somehow the movie captures it. The best Lovecraft movies are the ones where it was based on a simple idea: Re-Animator was a simple story, From Beyond was simple. And don't feel bad if you change the story. Necessarily. Yeah, I'm all for sticking to the book if you want to make a faithful adaptation, but I think merit needs to be given to directors like Kubrick who took a well known story and changed it into something else, and it was still really good.
The feeling that comes off of this is that it actually feels like a book. I can practically imagine reading it, the words that it would say. But just like someone can really love the style of certain books, and some can hate them, the style of this movie is the same. How that worked out exactly, I don't know, but it really did.
I don't wanna sit here writing out more vague ideas of why I wasn't quite into this movie. It does have good acting, good effects, and a basic but interesting plot. I'm sure it has it's own following too, just like Nightbreed. But for me, 3 stars is being generous.