Lake Mungo (2008, Australia) More like Lake DUMBO. This melodramatic “mockumentary” about the haunting of a drowned girl serves to pleasure itself by showing a ghost in camera footage that is later discovered to be faked. Eff us, right? The second half is more confusing than the first, adding blurry camera phone clips and more dull as hell commentary from people who knew the girl. Serious material like this needs to be handled better. [rating: $1] –Kenyon
Return to Sleepaway Camp (2008) At this camp, nearly everyone is mean, insensitive and/or dumb. And i mean BRAINDEAD. For example, a character sees a sharp wooden spear poke through the floor. So what does he do? He keeps looking through the hole until the spear comes back! Let’s just say he won’t be using that eye to look at his porn anymore.
But this is Return to Sleepaway Camp, where character logic is void and everyone hates each other. Really, sitting through all the foul-mouthed yelling and name-calling gets tiring. This especially rings true with mentally damaged Alan, who gets doused with eggs, shot with paintballs and hit with a croquet mallet. Still, he continues to wear the same disgusting shirt throughout the movie. Although Alan is just as much to blame for being an antagonistic asshole, this kid is obviously mentally imbalanced. Yet no one ever attempts to help him psychologically! It’s also puzzling that no one ever questions how odd it is that the “sheriff” always wears sunglasses at night and has a beard yet is petite. Anyone who is familiar with the previous Sleepaways will know what’s up.
Something (likely unintentionally) funny is that whenever there’s a scene with a bunch of kids, they are always conveniently lined up and/or bunched up. This is so you can see them all at once? Sometimes it’s like Southpark, when Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny are at the bus stop all facing forward. Actually, speaking of Southpark, Isaac Hayes is in this meatball mess and plays, naturally, the chef at the camp. His role however is wasted, as he disappears early.
Aside from all the obvious problems, Return To seems to play like a self-aware send-up of the original Sleepaway Camp and other movies of the early 80s slasher heydays. Without a doubt, the best segments are when the “unknown” killer goes through the trouble of setting up clever ways to kill. This includes the spear through a hole and putting hungry rats into a birdcage that is locked onto a guy’s head. [rating: $3]
Live Animals (2008) The cover for this indie has a review byte that boasts “fans of Saw and Hostel will cheer”. Well, first it’s nothing at all like Saw. Second, it’s not exactly like Hostel either. At best it’s more like a mix of Turistas and Human Centipede but not as suspenseful or brutal. Not that Live Animals doesn’t show blood. In fact, the victims are abucted by lunatics relatively early and before long a tongue is cut off. It was the guy’s own fault though for not shutting up. The short lead-in to the crisis situation allows little time to get to know the characters, but they seem pretty boring. Their new “owner”–an older, regular looking guy assisted by a husky sidekick–wants to mentally break them like horses so he can sell them like slaves. The surviving college-age kids are able to escape the chains before making a huge, brainless mistake which culminates into otherwise easily avoidable deaths. It all would have been more believable if the mediocre Live Animals didn’t suffer from sloppy editing in a few scenes and the inexplicably deleted–and humorous!–scene that would have answered how the villian makes an escape. [rating: $4] –Kenyon