Don’t Look Up (2009)

Directed By: Fruit Chan
Written By: Brian Cox
Starring: Reshad Strik
  Henry Thomas
  Eli Roth
  Kevin Corrigan
Don’t Look Up

I don’t own Sky. I’m one of those Sky thieves, who get all excited when they discover someone who’s shelled out cash for Sky’s eight-hundred and fifty-five billion channels. I’ll surf the channels with momentary glee before realizing how ironically bereft of actual choice Sky’s standard package is.

On visiting my fair family in South Woodham Ferrers last weekend I had a couple of spare hours and flicked through the ‘anytime’ films for a horror and discovered Don’t Look Up. Apparently starring Eli Roth and apparently being a supernatural horror film, I pressed the enter button and… regretted it almost instantly.

Don’t Look Up is about a washed up film writer / director whose tendency to have psychotic episodes has – strangely – prevented him from creating Hollywood gold. With his last chance firmly in his grip, Marcus Reed (Reshad Strik) travels to Romania to make a film about a gypsy legend involving a woman, a pact with the devil and some murderous villagers.

Marcus Reed’s movie, however, isn’t the first time someone has tried to film this historical Romanian event. In 1928 the Hungarian film director Béla Olt (Eli Roth in a ham-tastic cameo) tried to make a film about it but WENT MISSING, along with all his crew.

Naturally Marcus decides to use the old studios in which Béla Olt went missing to film his own masterpiece. Unfortunately something evil is lurking in the disused Romanian studios and as accidents start befalling the crew Marcus begins questioning his own sanity…

Based on Hideo Nakata’s 2006 horror Joyû-rei this is another J-horror quick-buck remake that clearly doesn’t understand the source material or respect it. It seems rushed and is incredibly disjointed. My plot summary above does it far too much justice.

Don’t Look Up begins with Eli Roth seeing ghosts in Romania, which possible-psychic / filmmaker Marcus Reed dreams about (maybe) and he wakes up in distress. We then leap to the apartment of a cancer-sufferer / possible ex-wife, in which Marcus has an argument with her brother and then – inexplicably – Marcus is in a car with E.T.’s Henry Thomas in Romania, going to an old film set to remake an ancient horror film…

It is an incredibly confused film with a lot of problems. Don’t Look Up is poorly acted throughout, with only Kevin Corrigan coming across as an actual actor. Brian Cox’s script is fantastically on-the-nose and frankly ridiculous at times – “Nobody’s pulls a weapon on my set!” – leaving you laughing during some of the more ‘meaningful’ moments.

The direction and editing are also abysmal and needlessly confused. In fact it’s so bad it feels like it’s a joke. Shot with far too much light, there is nothing remotely scary about Don’t Look Up either, with no darkness to supply us with effective scares.  And even if it was dark and spooky, the film is as subtle as a nutshot with a cricket bat, with the attempted scares being signposted early and executed terribly.

Despite the lack of jump-moments, there are a few disturbing and disconcerting moments in Don’t Look Up (the slicing of Mr Lumpy is particularly demented), but these moments are incredibly rare.

The poor quality of direction and writing is only compounded further by the slightly xenophobic ‘Romanian’ characters, the constant in-jokes and jibes about the filmmaking industry (from net profits to the Director’s Guild of America) and some really crap CGI flies.

Thanks to Don’t Look Up this is another year I won’t even contemplate getting Sky. If that’s the only horror they promote on their ‘anytime’ service then I’m better off with Freeview. Or Netflix. Or my own imagination. This is one to avoid.

Oh, and the director’s name is Fruit. I had to point that out somewhere.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.