Why do I like Shannyn Sossamon so much? She's one of those actors who, when I see her name attached to a film, I think "Oooh! Yes, I'll watch that." (see also: Ed Harris). I don't get it. She's not a particularly good actress- she tends to deliver every line as if she's just done a shot of heroin. She hasn't been in any films I love, or even like a whole bunch. So what is it? Is it just because I think she's super duper adorable in some magical kinda-scuzzy elfin way? That's probably it...eh, these things happen. In the end, all it means is that I watch some movies I probably wouldn't otherwise check out, like Catacombs (2007).
Sossamon stars as Victoria, a young lady who's apparently got some "nerve issues" or some such. She heads to Paris at the suggestion of her sister Carolyn (Alecia Moore- yes, that's "Pink" to you), who's there to study...something at the Sorbonne. Though Victoria begs off doing much because of a headache, Carolyn insists they spend an exhausting day doing French-type stuff like scooter-riding. They shop, and then Carolyn drags her sister to a rave in the Catacombs beneath the streets.
Yes, a rave in the catacombs. Any old excuse to get the kids down there, I guess...I mean, the same rave-gone-wrong idea worked in House of the Dead and Return of the Living Dead 5, right?
Anyway, once they're all down there, Carolyn and her French friends regale Victoria with the legend of The Cult of the Black Virgin...apparently, some Satanic cult is lurking in the catacombs, and they've managed to create their own Antichrist by raising an incest rape baby in darkness and feeding him raw meat. Now he wears a goat's head for a mask and stalks the tunnels, hacking up unlucky wanderers of the depths. But...that's totally just a legend, so we don't have to worry about that in Catacombs.
Just kidding! Later on, the sisters have separated themselves from the pack and as they bicker, Goat Head pops out and puts the blade to Carolyn...so you know what that means.
Goat Head grunts incessantly and chases Victoria around for a while, but she manages to elude him. Unfortunately, she's completely lost and wanders around for the next 35 minutes, looking for an exit. Just so you know, I don't mean 35 minutes in the world of the movie...I mean 35 minutes of the movie's run time. She walks around. And looks. And walks around. And looks. For 35 minutes.
She meets up with a fellow Lostie named Henri, but Victoria leaves him behind when he falls into a shaft and breaks his leg. She wanders around some more, then maybe meets up with Goat Head again, and then in its last ten minutes Catacombs pulls a fast one and kicks you in the nuts, be they metaphorical or for reals. Even Shannyn Sossamon was not amused.
If you were sitting here with me right now and you asked my opinion of Catacombs, I'd wiggle my hand up and down, scrunch up my face, and say "Mnehhhhhhh" in a whiny voice...or, in keeping with the film's Paris setting, I'd give it a "comme ci, comme ca". The direction was, at times, horrendously irritating; co-directors (and co-writers) Tomm Coker and David Elliot employed liberal use of the epilepsy-cam to the point where it was frequently difficult to discern what was going on. I don't know who started the frenetic jump cutting / strobe lighting / fucking with film speed epidemic that's STILL plaguing horror film directors, but the trend has really got to stop. None of those bells and whistles make the film any scarier.
The plot is paper-thin, and the resolution would have been bolstered by some character development earlier on; perhaps if we'd spent some more time learning about Victoria and Carolyn, the events that stem from their contemptuous relationship might have had more impact. Instead, we watch Victoria walk around in the dark for half an hour, but the film never feels particularly frightening or tense.
Oh well. In the end, all it means is that I watched a movie I probably wouldn't otherwise have checked out. Damn you, Shannyn Sossamon!