Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Review: Seven Below

Some years ago I watched the late-era Val Kilmer movie Spartan because I'd always been a fan of Kilmer but I'd seen some online scuttlebutt to the effect of "Hey, hurr hurr, how 'bout that washed-up loser Val Kilmer, huh? Look at these complete shit movies he's makin' now," so after I finished Spartan, I thought, "Well, okay, that wasn't GREAT, but it was far from complete shit, and Kilmer was pretty darn good in it; so, Internet haters? What the hell?"

Well, this. This the hell.

The infinitesimal-budget horror flick Seven Below (or 7 Below, as it's known on Netflix Instant, not that I'm advising you to look for it) involves a group of tourists heading into the wilderness of Minnesota but winding up "trapped" by "dangerous" weather in a creepy old house full of booze and ghosts and bad acting. I give it credit for having a cast of characters not comprised entirely of oversexed high-school kids, but the cast we do get nevertheless fails to be interesting. At least they fit in well with the similarly uninteresting story, music, direction, dialogue…

7 Below resembles certain older, MST3K-material B-movies in some ways. It's dull and housebound (like Killer Shrews), it seems to think glacial pacing is the same thing as mounting tension (like Tormented), its editing is occasionally so baffling you can barely laugh (like Manos: The Hands of Fate), and its view of women makes Friday the 13th seem progressive (like…well, too many to mention).

In other ways, 7 Below feels contemporary, but not redeemingly so. Most obviously, its only attempts at being scary consist of lame imitations of modern horror tricks (e.g. the creepy horror movie kid in the bathroom mirror). The story is just as unoriginal: an evil boy stabs his family to death 100 years in the past (this takes place in the overlong pre-credits scene) and ghostly echoes of the murders play out in front of the trapped modern characters, giving them some much-needed opportunities to practice emoting and speaking.

To add to the sadness of the whole experience, Ving Rhames joins Val Kilmer as the other actor you've heard of. Kilmer's character is the asshole who dies quickly, presumably just to get the hell out of the movie; Rhames is the creepy caretaker about whom Not All Is As It Seems. The no-name actors making up the rest of the cast range from decent to sub-amateur. One of the two actresses looks a lot like Amy Poehler, and acts a lot like Amy Poehler pretending to act ineptly.

Towards the end, the plot finally starts to take some weird turns, but whatever originality surfaces (and it's reeeeally not much) is undercut by some outright hilarious unintentional hilarity—the way Kilmer's character returns, for example, or the revelation that Rhames really cannot sing at all. But it's not unintentionally-hilarious enough to make the previous hour-plus worthwhile.

You pretty much could not make a more thoroughly, almost studiously awful horror film. Even if you like "bad" horror, stay away from Seven Below; it is absolutely not the fun kind of bad. I've seen better Full Moon Features. It's so boring and pointless that I actually began writing this review halfway through the movie, which I ordinarily never do. Plus? Why's it even called Seven Below? It takes place in Minnesota, yes, but very clearly in the summer. Whatever, movie. I don't even care anymore. Just go. Just fade into the obscurity you so richly deserve.

Star Score: 0 out of 5

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