Thursday, October 17, 2013

You Can't Kill Stephen King (2012)(Spoiler Review)

**This review contains spoilers**

With hopes of meeting Stephen King, six friends take a road trip to Encomium, Maine to meet the famous author at his cabin deep in the woods. Lamont (Justin Brown), Nicole (Kayle Blogna), Ronnie (Ronnie Khalil), Lori (Kate Costello), Monroe (Monroe Mann), and his sister, Hilary (Crystal Arnette) stop at a local diner for some rest and food. Here, they receive a foreboding warning from a waitress about disturbing Stephen King, and disrupting the peace and quiet in Encomium. Monroe is trying to repair a broken relationship with Lori after a stint in the Army during the Iraq War, but Lori is still hesitant to trust her boyfriend. 

Lamont is forced to fill up on gas after losing a surprise vote. Meanwhile, the rest of the group heads to the cabin after renting a motorboat. In the cabin, Ronnie, the lone diehard Stephen King fan, finds an assortment of King’s novels in the basement. As time passes, Lamont’s random disappearance forces the group to go into town to find some answers. But instead of answers, Monroe is horrified after identifying Lamont’s scattered body parts.

Petrified, the group returns to the cabin for safety, but returning to the cabin proves to be a deadly mistake. A mysterious hooded figure dressed in all black stalks the group, and the remaining survivors slowly disappear one by one. Ronnie notices the killer is mimicking murders in King’s novels and short stories step by step, which leads the group to one startling question: Is Stephen King the killer?

The body count rises quick in You Can’t Kill Stephen King, but I couldn’t feel any sympathy for the deaths here. Why? Too many loathsome characters. Hilary is the bland prude, who’s supposed to be the serious one in the group. Nicole is the whiny narcissistic airhead, who’s sole purpose is to be the number one option for eye candy. Lori is supposed to be the innocent one, but Kate Costello’s big blue eyes aren’t enough to cover up the clueless dunce side of Lori’s character. Monroe is this insecure baby/boyfriend without a backbone, but the “traumatized war veteran” layer for his character is cringeworthy (more on that later). Ronnie is this creepy and perverted douchebag/nerd, and as the film progresses, Ronnie emerges from the pack as the most unlikeable character. Plus, You Can’t Kill Stephen King pulls out all the stops to remind you Lamont is just the “token black guy” in a horror film, and they reinforce their mission to make SURE you know this by killing off Lamont first.

Overkill is another massive problem here. The raunchiness loses its shock factor after thirty minutes. A prime example would be a barrage of close up shots for Kayle Blogna’s cleavage, a scene with Blogna taking a shower, and there’s a shot of Blogna shaking her fanny towards the camera for no reason at all. Again, we get it. Nicole is supposed to be the eye candy, we don’t need a reminder in every other scene. The humor is atrocious, and You Can’t Kill Stephen King tries to milk Ronnie’s creepy obsession over Nicole for cheap laughs throughout the movie. Yeah, the perv jokes lose a lot of steam fast, and towards the end, Ronnie’s stalker routine reaches a too annoying point.

If they were trying to pay homage to King’s work, You Can’t Kill Stephen King failed miserably. The winks include, but are not limited to The Shining, Carrie, It, and Beachworld, but something is off here, really off. Most of you recognize the iconic Friday The 13th theme, right? Well, there’s a sample of it here, when Lamont is killed off. That’s right. In a horror comedy that’s supposed to parody King’s work, they use a horrific sample of the Jason theme. Why? I don’t know.

Which leads me to another complaint about this film: what’s the point here? Instead of putting a real tasteful effort into paying tribute to King’s work via the parody approach, You Can’t Kill Stephen King lazily piles on the references and winks in this frustrating and schizophrenic cut and paste “style.” Need an example? Ronnie randomly envisions  a dead Lamont naked as the It clown, and the Lamont clown has this excited sensual look in his eyes during a stare-down with Ronnie.

So if You Can’t Kill Stephen King is supposed to be a parody of King’s work, then why did I get the feeling of watching a parody for the slasher genre? The stereotypical stupid characters I listed above is the first obvious sign. On top of that, you have a bunch of terrified young kids hiding in a cabin deep in the woods, while a mysterious killer eliminates his victims one by one. This approach creates a mind-boggling dilemma for a number of reasons:

- Is Stephen King famous for writing characters that resemble Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees? Your usual stupid bunch in a slasher film? Nope. Last time I checked, Carrie White, Jack Torrance, Danny Torrance, and George Stark don’t fit this mold.

-Stephen King isn’t known for creating generic characters and stories. Using famous King characters and novels/short stories in a slasher style parody makes no sense whatsoever.

-Stephen King isn’t famous for straightforward and predictable storytelling. In You Can’t Kill Stephen King, you’ll be able to see every “twist” and turn coming from a mile away.

The plot holes? Okay, the cabin in the woods is supposed to be Stephen King’s cabin…but at the same time the cabin is supposed to be a gift from Monroe’s grandparents? How is it possible the cabin is a home for Stephen King AND Monroe’s grandparents? You Can’t Kill Stephen King doesn’t bother explaining any of this. Earlier I mentioned Ronnie discovering various Stephen King novels in the basement. Right, so why would Stephen King keep a pop up book signed by himself in his own basement? Again, that makes no sense at all. Towards the end, we’re lead to believe the killer stole the motorboat after murdering Nicole, so Monroe, Hilary, and Ronnie won’t have a way to escape the cabin safely…..but the killer returns with no problem? It should take him a while to swim back to the cabin, right?

The finale is mind-numbingly stupid. You Can’t Kill Stephen King leads you to believe Ronnie is the killer, as the obsessed fan, who’s honoring his idol by acting out his stories in real life. But after a while, you start to realize Ronnie being the killer is WAY too obvious for a shocking ending, and the lazy attempts at foreshadowing didn’t help anything. Over and over again, I repeated to myself “Please don’t reveal Stephen King as the killer. Please don’t do that.” Guess what? Stephen King is the killer! Ugh, it’s an underwhelming finale that created a disappointing facepalming moment for me. After all that time, waiting, and anticipation, they reveal Stephen Freaking King as the killer for a lame, and I do mean LAME reveal at the end. Revealing Stephen King as the killer as a tie-in for an obvious pun in the title is supposed to be clever and shocking? Seriously?

To make matters worse, You Can’t Kill Stephen King relies on a plethora of lowbrow tactics for laughs and “I can’t believe they did that!” reactions from the audience. Seventies style porn music, pedophile jokes, random footage from a porn film, a girl on girl kissing scene between Nicole and Lori, where Nicole bites Lori’s bottom lip for no real reason, and the townspeople constantly referring to Lamont as a “negro.” They take a satire approach for Monroe being this traumatized Iraq war veteran. Monroe freaks out after having flashbacks from the battlefield (i.e. remembering sounds of a firefight), but Ronnie reminds Monroe of his status in the Army: he wasn’t an actual soldier. Monroe was a line cook, who never experienced the hardships of fighting in a war. So revealing Monroe as a delusional wimp is supposed to be funny?

You Can’t Kill Stephen King is a tasteless and unfunny mockery of Stephen King’s work. It’s a clustered mess of a film, that’s unsure of its own identity, and the laundry list of problems are impossible to ignore. Wooden dialogue, too many unlikable characters, a terrible overall cast (minus Arnette and Blogna,), idiotic plot twists, plot holes, and unsatisfying reveals. You want tingly feelings of nostalgia for Stephen King’s work? Read one of his books or short stories or watch Brian De Palma’s Carrie. But whatever you do, please avoid this film (or poor excuse for a horror comedy) at all costs.

Rating: 1/10

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