Posts Tagged ‘Moses Rutegar’

Movie Review: 1313: Night of the Widow (2012)

October 8, 2012

So this is it. The end. The review which I’ve been waiting to write since 1313 Week began. Spoiler: I’m happy to report that we get to end it on a high note; This is the movie from the 1313 franchise that I’ve wished for as I put myself through Hell for four days. I hope you enjoy this review and I promise that this blog won’t return to the 1313 franchise for a very long time.

Written by Moses Rutegar and directed by David Deoteau, Night of the Widow surrounds an unorthodox funeral for Michael (Jake Lockett) — a now former millionaire who married a psycho, and his five friends who attend the service in Michael’s mansion. One thing leads to another, and as chaos ensues Michael’s friends learn that it might be their funeral too.

The acting isn’t all that terrible — the actors aren’t good actors, but in context their performance is okay for this movie. They come across as real enough where I’m comfortable not saying that these actors are doing a disservice to cinema. Maybe Louis Ferrigno Jr. comes across as weird and maybe Andrea Stine is irritating despite being cute. Otherwise, no complaints, take that as you will.

The writing is surprisingly okay; I think that of what I’ve seen, Night of the Widow has the best writing of the 1313 franchise. That isn’t saying a lot, but this is the first movie of the franchise which I buy from start to finish. I buy the characters’ relationships with each other. I buy how they act, I buy the drama. On top of all that I buy that people don’t take their shirts off to socialize!

It’s genuinely hard to believe that Rutegar, Night of the Widow‘s writer, also wrote Wicked Stepbrother and Billy the Kid, the quality is night and day! Rutegar must have had a revelation somewhere, because it’s hard to imagine that the person who wrote this movie is the same person who wrote Wicked Stepbrother. It seems vaguely impossible!

Honestly I’m torn on this. On one hand, Night of the Widow is a little fun and DeCoteau and Rutegar did a good job making me like a few of the characters. On the other hand it isn’t really that great. Of the seven 1313 movies which I’ve seen so far, this is the best in terms of character development, story, and even originality. Taking all of that into consideration, with the fact that this is the end of 1313 Week, I’m going to give it a pass.

It probably isn’t worth your time, but Night of the Widow is on Netflix USA as of this writing if you do want to check it out. It’s honestly bad, but think of it as the lesser of seven evils.

As a sidenote, I’m all for cutting costs, but I feel that I’ve seen the same mansion used as a set for DeCoteau’s 1313 movies way too many times. This isn’t a valid point against Night of the Widow, but it is against the 1313 franchise as a whole. DeCoteau has proven that the 1313 franchise has the budget for other sets, with Hercules Unbound! and Billy the Kid being that proof. Using this tired mansion set is lazy. At least switch up mansions.

That said, most people probably won’t watch more than one of these movies, and as such won’t have the chance to experience déjà vu — lucky them! However, I do expect at least a micron of originality in production, and if you’re a filmmaker and you use the exact same set over and over and over, it’s disheartening to people like me… we’re suffering enough!

Movie Review: 1313: Billy the Kid (2012)

October 4, 2012

1313 Week is a week dedicated to reviewing David DeCoteau’s homoerotic franchise. Partly an experiment to see if I can survive an entire week of the films, I hope you enjoy this week.

Sepia tone: Oft used image filter that people think improves photos, for whatever reason, as in reality it usually ruins the photos (Examples). The filter has never been applied to a movie for the entire duration — until now. Enter 1313: Billy the Kid.

Written by Moses Rutegar and directed by David DeCoteau, Billy the Kid is the head-scratcher of the 1313 franchise. For one there are only around five scenes with topless men (so, kudos). Second, it’s a Western-Horror, which is an interesting change of course from the others. And third the entire film is put through a Sepia filter, which is an utter disaster of international proportions (more on this later).

As the story goes, Billy the Kid (Brandon Thornton) is wounded and on the run from the law after escaping prison. Eventually Billy stumbles into a near-ghost town called Hell’s Heart, where Athena Lottie (Chelsea Rae Bernier) mends him to health. Once four days pass and Billy is healthy, strong, and badass as ever, Deputy Whitecastle (Jason Zahodnik) becomes suspicious of Billy, shenanigans happen, and Hell’s Heart lives up to its name.

Getting it out of the way: The Sepia filter being applied for the entire 75 minute duration is the single worst editing decision that I’ve ever seen. The reason I’m guessing that the filmmakers applied the Sepia filter is because it’s a cheap way to make an image look antiquated. Obviously if you’re making a Western, you might want an antiquated feel, but it has to be genuine. It can’t be something that a pre-teen with an iPod touch and iMovie can do.

The acting is horrible, and honestly a lot of that has to do with the casting. Billy the Kid is the sixth movie from the 1313 franchise that I’ve seen, and as DeCoteau recycles his cast I’ve seen a lot of these actors. The thing that I can say with confidence is that of DeCoteau’s regulars, the cast might have been correctly selected but their roles were not. If the actors were given roles that suited them, this honestly might be a vaguely entertaining movie.

(That said, the fact that these actors aren’t good to begin with doesn’t help.)

Interestingly enough, there isn’t verbal dialogue until roughly ten minutes into the movie; coincidentally those were my ten favorite minutes! It’s just the score which isn’t bad, and Billy the Kid wandering around in a Sepia toned desert. If the entire dialogue was stripped and Billy the Kid was just the characters going through the motions to music, it’d be 10x better. The dialogue problem might have to do with the actors speaking the dialogue, but it’s really kind of bad.

I hate talking about clothes, but I get the sense that DeCoteau wanted his actors to be topless as in the rest of the 1313 franchise. I think that he understands that the desert in Western-times isn’t a mansion in Southern California, but I say what I am because he has his actors here wear vests with no clothing underneath. It’s a compromise, we don’t see nipples, but we do get a bit of the chest, six pack, and muscular arms. That’s a compromise I can accept.

So should you watch this movie? No you should not. If for any reason, just to protest the use of the Sepia filter. But otherwise it has problems up and down with the acting/casting and dialogue, and even with the vest compromise the actors do go topless occasionally. As of this writing 1313: Billy the Kid is on Netflix USA, but again you’ll want to skip it. Unless you’re a masochist, at which point I can’t help you.

Movie Review: 1313: Wicked Stepbrother (2011)

October 3, 2012

1313 Week is a week dedicated to reviewing David DeCoteau’s homoerotic franchise. Partly an experiment to see if I can survive an entire week of the films, I hope you enjoy this week.

Remember: DOI.
Don’t overthink it.

Frank (Kayde McMullen) and Kelly (Jarrid Balis)

That’s sound advice coming from two otherwise bland characters. Fortunately it’s almost impossible to overthink 1313: Wicked Stepbrother unless the intent is to rationalize it, which I don’t intend to do. Spoiler: This movie is horrible.

Written by Moses Rutegar and directed by David DeCoteau, Wicked Stepbrother doesn’t have the greatest of plots. Jarrod (Jordan Nichols), the son of a deceased millionaire, has just turned 18 and earned the right to his late father’s estate. Unfortunately for his stepmother and stepbrother, Minerva (Michelle Bauer) and Sebastian (Jake Madden) respectively, Jarrod doesn’t like them and has no intention of letting them keep any of his inheritance. Drama ensues, and what should be a happy birthday for Jarrod and his party guests turns into a bloodbath.

And I just made Wicked Stepbrother sound immeasurably better than it actually is. Sorry.

This movie starts out with a guy wearing his shirt, which had me excited at the idea that it might not be 75 minutes of skin. Of course less than a minute later my hopes and dreams were shattered, and then the movie proceeded to kill my expectations over and over again. You know the phrase “just when you think things can’t get any worse, they do”? That certainly applies here. Every single time that I thought “Wicked Stepbrother can’t get any worse”, it outright proved me wrong, without fail, no prisoners taken. This movie (if you want to call it a movie) sucks.

My disbelief is even established in my notes. The following is what I jotted down in a roughly two minute span:

Oh comeoncomeoncomeon.

This can’t get any worse.

I lied. It just got way worse.

CANNOT UNSEE

This movie is closer to pornography than any of the other 1313 films that I’ve seen. There’s one point in Wicked Stepbrother where Jarrod and his stepmother start making out, and her son joins in turning the movie into a twisted incest threesome. It would be one thing if this was full-on porn and there was intercourse, because it would then at least appeal to people with freaky incest fetishes. As is, it’s more of a “WHY GOD WHY” type thing. It’s disaster on top of disaster, as the non-freaky stuff is somehow less exciting than the incest!

Honestly, if you’re entertained by random, topless men wandering around a mansion shouting “Hello?” until their unclimactic demise (which is what most of Wicked Stepbrother is), I have a bridge to sell you.

Actor Slash Model has a teleportation problem, Wicked Stepbrother has a dimension problem. Almost every time one of Jarrod’s party guests arrive at his mansion, they’re greeted with silence as the place is empty. But in scenes prior and following Jarrod and his step family are clearly in the mansion, so where do they go? The only logical explanation is that the main characters and party guests are on two different planes, until somebody has to die. That actually isn’t a bad idea, the problem is that Wicked Stepbrother isn’t supposed to be multi-dimensional.

(Speaking of Actor Slash Model, it shares sets, props, and even some actors with this movie. While cutting costs is great, it’s very noticeable.)

It isn’t all bad, though. What I did like about Wicked Stepbrother is its score, which I can definitely write to. It’s not exciting, it doesn’t even fit the movie at all, but I found myself not dreading it. Infact, this movie would be immeasurably better if it was the score and nothing else. Only then would I not be missing my 75 minutes. I wish I could say more good things, but I really can’t. There isn’t any valid reason to recommend Wicked Stepbrother to anyone in the world, but it’s on Netflix USA as of this writing for any curious masochistic parties. Really, though, skip this one.

Really.

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