In actor Andrew Lauer’s directorial debut, the teen (or in this case, 20-something) horror movie “El Intermedio”, four friends (two childhood friends and their respective significant others) decide to take a trip to the U.S.-Mexican border, where they will go into a tunnel that joins the two countries and, according to one entrepreneur, bring back “primo stuff”. I believe the object post-transport is to sell the drugs, although there is dialogue to the contrary. In any case, Malik (Edward Furlong) has a girlfriend who is currently on crutches, but is apparently not following doctor’s orders, because she travels with the others on their transnational drug trafficking quest. No, really.
Perhaps as a testament to what a turkey “El Intermedio” is, I supply as evidence star Edward Furlong’s big gut. Coming off the embarrassing “Crow: Wicked Prayer” (or vice versa), Furlong is first seen onscreen sleeping on the couch in his trailer home. We’re not quite sure how he pays for that trailer, as it’s established quickly that Malik is a lazy stoner. In any case, to the border our four friends go, Furlong bringing along his gimp girlfriend (on crutches!) and his unsightly beer gut. (Really, folks, if you’re going to continue making a living as a leading man, shouldn’t you at least try to stay fit? Especially if your name isn’t Steven Seagal?)
Some of the action takes place in the tunnels before transplanting to an empty “safe house” convenient located above said tunnel. Of course calling what happens in “Intermedio” action is being generous. Mostly it involves actors running around the cave, and then later the hallways of the safehouse, in the dark screaming obscenities at each other. It’s all very “drama class”-ish, and the only thing that saves it from being a total catastrophe is Cerina Vincent, who is quite a looker, especially in the film’s second half when her shirt gets mysterious hemmed by about 7. Thank God for small (ahem) favors.
“El Intermedio” is really a slasher film at heart, except here the masked killer is actually a ghost (or more appropriately, blurry ghosts). Soon the four friends, along with their Mexican drug dealer contact, are fleeing killer ghosts under the control of a creepy old man played by Steve Railsback, who has made a career out of playing creepy old men in dumb teen horror movies. Of course running from these hardware-wielding ghosts who are trapped between the world of the living and the dead would be easier if, you know, stoner Malik hadn’t brought along his gimpy, crutch-dependent girlfriend to an illegal narcotics buy underground.
For an actor who has been in “Terminator 2” (still the pinnacle of his career), Edward Furlong doesn’t show any signs of ability. In a bit of trivia, Furlong has said in an interview that he was never contacted to do “Terminator 3”, and he seems to insinuate that the film’s failure was due to his absence. Of course the truth is that “T3” did just fine without Mr. Furlong, grossing a whopping $418 million worldwide. Edward, my friend, if “El Intermedio” and “Crow: Wicked Prayer” represents the total growth of your talent since “T2”, they were smart not to let you anywhere near their movie set.
“El Intermedio” is terrible from top to bottom, and Kraig Wenman’s script lands with a loud thud. The story is unoriginal and downright silly at times, and first-time director Andrew Lauer doesn’t do anyone any favors, relying on cheap “Boo” scares and offering little by way of creativity other than wacky camera angles, and even he seems to get bored with this eventually. Most amazing of all, there are sequences that are simply looped throughout the film, an amazing fact considering that the film couldn’t even manage 80 full minutes plus opening and ending credits. The movie seems to have decent production values, although you wonder if Lauer didn’t blow his entire budget in the first 10 minutes or so. All that running around in the tunnel, and then later in the safe house, must have saved a ton of money.
The most disappointing thing about “El Intermedio” isn’t that it’s awful, something I knew it would be going in. Rather, I find it most distressing that the oh so lovely Cerina Vincent, who almost single-handedly makes “Intermedio” not the total crap it really is, hasn’t found true fame after Eli Roth’s cult horror hit “Cabin Fever”. Can you recall anyone from that movie not named Cerina Vincent? And the fact that she’s not translated that memorable role into more decent roles leaves me disgusted with the filmmaking community at large.
Perhaps in an attempt to make up for a dull story that has its characters running (literally) in circles, the filmmakers offer up plenty of gore, but they’re poorly done, especially one ambitious segment where a character is sliced in half and falls to the ground. The entire special effects amounts to the crew burying the actor up to the chest; it’s so badly done, in fact, that when the actor flails about post-severing, you can see the ground move. That, I’m afraid, is indicative of “El Intermedio”. The film is saved from a doomed rating by Cerina Vincent’s ever-so-small shirt, but little else.
Andrew Lauer (director) / Kraig Wenman (screenplay)
CAST: Edward Furlong …. Malik
Steve Railsback …. Old Man
Cerina Vincent …. Gen
Amber Benson …. Barbie
Callard Harris …. Wes
Paul Cram …. Zee