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Head Production Designer
JOSEPH CROSS, BRIANA EVIGAN,
Special Effects Make-Up
A SIERRA NEVADA
(MICHAEL MADSEN & JOHN SAVAGE).
Not to be confused with the popular Horror Thriller game from 1993. IT WAITS is a Horror film of a different stripe. Written by the long time television writing team of Tom Szollosi (SNOW WHITE: A TALE OF TERROR) and Richard Christian Matheson (Book: DYSTOPIA. Movie: Masters of Horror: DANCE OF THE DEAD), IT WAITS was co-written further by TV impresario, Stephen J. Cannell (Writer: DEAD ABOVE GROUND. Producer: DEMON HUNTER). All three men have made their mark in television, though only Richard Christian Matheson has made, somewhat of a mark, in Horror.
The movie opens with a bunch of archeology students blowing a hole into a cavern, exploring it, and hearing a rather unpleasant noise. Being as they were in a cave, and a cave can have many openings, when they first heard the growl from deep in the darkness, you would expect the smart thing to do would be to shout, "Bear!" and run the hell out of there.
But instead, something growls ominously in the dark and they say, "What was that?"
It roars in the dark, louder and presumably closer, and instead of getting out, they turn to one another perplexed, though the woman of the group says, "I think we should get out of here."
So right there, Merry Mishaps occur and expectations drop.
2 months later and a buxom woman is getting drunk in a ranger station. She is, in fact, a forest ranger. She also goes throughout the entire movie on top of a mountain wearing the same tank top, which shows off her buxom cleavage (said to be winter, and yet no snow and no cold - on TOP of a mountain? Go figure. Global warming or something?). In fact, the Ranger spends much of the movie leaning forward so you can get a nice gander at her nice cleavage. This forest ranger not only looks like a super model but even has a super model name, Danielle St. Claire* (Cerina Vincent: CABIN FEVER).
She has a cute animal; a wise-cracking parrot.
Through an inordinately long series of flash backs, we discover that she was in a car accident and her best female friend died. In a way, Danielle blames herself. Her ranger boss, Ranger Rick Bailey (Greg Kean), knows that Danielle is getting smashed in her tower, but he has yet to prove it. Eventually, her boyfriend, Justin Rawley (Dominic Zamprogna: BLOODSUCKERS [TV]) comes around, spends a great deal of time getting her to open up, they have sex with sappy country music playing to evoke emotion, and the monster shows up.
The monster, as it turns out, is an ancient demon resurrected when the archeology students opened its prison/cave. It lives to terrify and torture people before it kills them. It is a dark demon with an almost human face, and when you least expect it, it has wings. But don't confuse this with JEEPERS CREEPERS!
I'm warning you! Just! Don't! Do! That!
JEEPERS CREEPERS was a much better movie.
There are so many moments in this movie when something scary could have happened.
Like when one character thinks he's being stalked by the monster, so he points the gun and waits - just as the hackneyed horror movie hand cliché clamps down on his shoulder.
This has been such a stupid, shop-worn "Boo!" gimmick for so long that Steven Spielberg put it away in JURASSIC PARK, and that was in 1993!
Or another scare where, for no reason at all, a hackneyed horror movie cat cliché jumps out, hissing and spitting. THIS has been such a stupid "Boo" gimmick for so long that director James Cameron put it away in 1985 with ALIENS. And that was over 20 years ago! Cheap tropes like these permeate IT WAITS: clichés so tired that I don't think they even bothered to cover them in Wes Craven's SCREAM series; they were just that old and worn out.
So we have the ancient demon which feeds on your fear and, I repeat, is NOT a rip-off of JEEPERS CREEPERS!
What's more, for a thing which has been imprisoned in a cave for over a thousand years, it has an amazing knowledge of modern radio communications technology. It makes no sense even within the context of the movie, but there you have it.
In weak scripts such as this, cinematography can go a long way to adding creep factor to a film. Should be an easy task here, as it takes almost nothing to make woods appear scary. Yet cinematographer, Jon Joffin is clearly not up to the task. In fact, his cinematography evokes no mood what so ever. It is merely adequate for day and night time shots. And I have to wonder why, you know, because Jon did such good work in Stuart Gordon's DREAMS IN THE WITCH HOUSE.
The mood provoking is left to the SFX team of Tony Gardner (RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, ALIENS, THE BLOB , NIGHTBREED, ARMY OF DARKNESS, STIR OF ECHOES), Ryan Nicholson (BLEEDERS, THE 13TH WARRIOR, FINAL DESTINATION, SCARY MOVIE, DREAMCATCHER, BLADE III), and Jason Ward (EXHUMED, THE DEAD INSIDE), who create the mood thanks to their excellent make-up and prosthetic effects.
For an 88 minute movie, way too much time was taken up with the ponderous romance between Park & Forest Ranger, Danielle St. Clair and Ranger Justin. The from-the-neck-up sex scenes were insipid and unnecessary, and the moments of Danielle staring off into space while Melanie Monroe sang adult contemporary country ballads to express emotion went splat.
Worse, during moments when the creature is, after them right now, Danielle and Justin would stop to talk about their relationship, should they take it to the next level, and so on.
I mean, the creature is chasing them! Right behind them! ... and they stop and talk about their feelings, snuggle and kiss - what the hell was the monster doing at that moment, standing off to the side saying, "Awww!"?
And just when it looks like the monster is going to be killed too soon, another hackneyed horror movie cliché jumps up in the form of a wise Indian teacher (Eric Schweig) who talks like a petulant Dungeons and Dragons geek. He voluminously explains the creature and why Danielle is a poo-poo head for not buying into his crap. But just because this happens, don't think, not even for a minute, that this scene is any kind of rip-off of POLTERGIEST II, you hear me?
Just! Don't! Think! That!
Even POLTERGIEST II was a better movie.
For gorehounds, there is a goodly amount of gore and blood to be had, as sometimes the creature thinks it's Leatherface from THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and gets creative with arranging dead bodies.
Hey! I know what you're thinking! Don't! You! Think! That!
The film finally picks up the pace in the last 10 minutes. And then another 10 or so minutes of Danielle going through the motions of emotion are tacked on for no reason, as if Director Steven R. Monroe (THE CONTRACT, HOUSE OF 9) just needed to reach the 88 minute mark. Sorry, but never ask Cerina to emote. Cerina Vincent has rode her brief career on her two main assets: neither of which is her acting or her ass - yet.
IT WAITS is a movie that was largely made by people who have a proven successful track record of not making scary movies. As successful as he is, Stephen J. Cannell has no following of Horror Thriller fans, nor does anyone else involved in this movie with the exception of Richard Christian Matheson, whose horror short stories largely appear in anthologies. For what possible reason did any investor think that Cannell & Co. would have any clue about making a scary movie when they've all spent their careers amply demonstrating, again with great success, otherwise?
IT WAITS will leave you waiting for the premature bang-up ending, though it does have a few scares here and there. I give it a barely earned Two Shriek Girls.
Because it is just that bad, I also give it an even better rating of three negative Shriek Girls, although the laughs were likely unintentional.