Crazy Eights, one of the films in After Dark's second Horrorfest lineup, is one of those films that, when it's over, you sort of shrug and say, "Umm...yup. Okay, so I just watched that." See, Crazy Eights is firmly planted in horror movie purgatory: neither good nor particularly terrible, it's just sort of there. It inspires no emotions in the viewer of any kind, and at the end of the 90 minutes you spend with it, you promptly forget about it and go about tending to your Olivia Newton-John scrapbook.
I'm not necessarily saying that I have an Olivia Newton-John scrapbook, mind you, but I almost did. When I was a wee one in that heady year known as "1980"- yeah, when Xanadu hit, ON-J fever was at its height (for me), and the world couldn't get enough of her musical collaborations with E.L.O. (at least, I couldn't), I somehow got it in my head that making an Olivia Newton-John scrapbook and selling it would be the greatest moneymaking scheme in the history of ever. I have no idea who I thought would buy it, or why I thought someone would actually pay big money for an Olivia Newton-John scrapbook, but I promptly set about cutting out every magazine article I could find about her and scotch taping them inside a notebook. Perhaps I sensed that I was on a fool's errand, or perhaps my love for Xanadu waned too quickly- whatever the reason, I dropped the project in but a few days. Had I kept at it, I wonder how much it would have brought at, say, Sotheby's (surely they would have auctioned it off for me); would I be a millionairess right now, wearing a monocle and acting indignant when some rube has the nerve to call Polaner All Fruit "jelly"? That seems likely.
I don't know why I'm thinking about all this...wait, yes I do! It's because there's not much to think about in Crazy Eights. However, this blog is called Final Girl, not Let Me Bore You With Stupid Pointless Stories From My Youth (though that's catchy), so I need to get to the horror.
After 20 years apart, a group of friends reunites when one of their mutual childhood buddies passes away. In his will, he requests that the group dig up a time capsule they buried together and...I don't know, spend some quality time together or something.
They find the trunk, and beneath the slingshots and other things left behind they find the skeletal remains of a young girl. Oops! Forgot about her!
Through a series of plot contrivances, they end trapped in an abandoned secret hospital, where they're stalked by the ghost of the dead girl as they try to piece together their shared history. When they were children, they were subjected to a series of behavioral studies that left them all plagued with nightmares and at differing levels of functionality as adults.
It's an interesting- if familiar- set up, and the cast assembled here is fairly impressive, including Frank Whaley, Gabrielle Anwar, Dina Meyer, and Traci fucking Lords. Unfortunately, they're squandered, hampered by a weak script that doesn't flesh out any personalities or histories. In the end, we don't care whether any of them live or die because we don't know any of them. This should have been horror touched with a tinge of tragedy, but there's none of either. Still, there's always something great about seeing Traci Lords in mainstream movies, so watching her get chased by a vengeful ghost is nothing short of awesome, even though it kinda sucks.
There are some huge issues with the plot- the characters make enormous leaps of logic as they figure out how to get out of their dilemma, while the audience is left shaking their heads. The events of the film happen rather quickly, but very little of the time is spent with the characters trying to physically find a way out of the hospital. All in all, it's a head-scratcher.
Most bizarre, though, is that director James Jones doesn't seem to know how to handle horror action. Thing happen and characters die, but we're always cutting away just before the violence begins and coming back a moment after it's over. I'd blame the lack of FX on budget constraints, maybe, but Crazy Eights must have cost a few pennies- although maybe it was all spent on the cast? Eh, who knows. The point is, we're never shown much of anything- to the point where scenes frequently feel disjointed.
As I said, it wasn't terrible, but it also wasn't very good...and it's a shame to see the likable cast all but wasted. I mean, Traci Lords, man!
To be honest, the highlight of this movie was the bonus featurette that compiles the webisodes from the Miss Horrorfest 2007 competition. Like some reality show set in Hot Topic, the Top 10 finalists were gathered together to compete for the dubious honor of winning the crown. The best part of the whole affair was watching Shannon Lark try to maintain interest while she was clearly appalled to find herself stuck in the middle of some goth-flavored hooker convention. She's awesome!