Thursday, August 09, 2007

King of the Ants.

Stuart Gordon | 2003 | 102 min | US

If Stuart Gordon, director of horror-schlock greats like Re-Animator + Castle Freak, makes a film called King of the Ants, the last thing I want to discover is that the 'ants' are a metaphor. GODDAMMIT, GORDON.

Chris McKenna (Touched by an Angel) is Sean Crawley, an idiot who is hired by Fat Baldwin to do some light stalking + murder work. After the hit is carried out, it turns out that Baldwin isn't entirely scrupulous in his business practices. He decides that repeatedly attempting to beat McKenna into retardation will be the easiest way to sever his connection to the crime. That is the actual plot of this movie. Of course, Crawley escapes so that he may eventually return to exact revenge. Throw in some remarkably revolting sex + you've padded things up to a nice feature length.

The climax is a near-redeeming pay-off after a lot of other garbage. Unfortunately, the fatal flaw with the 'revenge' part of this revenge story is that we have no evidence at any other point in the story to suggest that Crawley is anywhere near intelligent enough to pull off the final act. If he were actually that clever the movie would have ended an hour earlier with one of the several presented escape opportunities. I'll admit that wouldn't have made for a very compelling movie, but neither does a filmmaker assuming we will forget everything we have seen prior to the climax.

It seems as though Stuart Gordon was consciously trying to distance himself from the campier work of his past with this one. He takes greats pains to make this film Seriously Serious, even employing the old shaky-camera routine. The attempts at realism are ridiculous at best + painful at worst. The film could have perhaps been saved by him going for a full-tilt, over the top horror finale, but nothing I craved to see panned out.

Bonus Feature: THE ANTS ARE PEOPLE?!

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