Fort Doom (2004) Movie Review

One does hope that director Christian Ingvordsen has already looked back at his horror-western opus “Fort Doom” and, in hindsight, realize that he should have shot the thing on film instead of digital video. Even grainy 16mm with natural lighting would have been the better choice. DV may be cheaper, easier, and faster, but it wasn’t design to film an authentic Western. Mind you, not that I think Ingvordsen’s movie is concern with being an “authentic Western”, even if screenwriter Matthew Howe obviously believes otherwise. Having seen “Fort Doom”, I can say without any hesitation that the Western genre and digital video go together like — well, they don’t go together at all, actually.

In more practical hands, “Fort Doom” could have been a guilty pleasure; one of those movies you know you should hate, but just can’t bring yourself to do so. Not the case here. This version of “Fort Doom” was (wait for it, wait for it) doomed from the word “go”. When? Just about the same time Matt Howe put pen to paper (or probably more likely, font to computer screen). “Fort Doom” doesn’t work on any level, not even the easily reachable so-bad-it’s-good pantheon of cinematic junk. Dull, tedious, and interminably plodding, “Fort Doom” is pure amateur hour.

The girls and a dorky Eastern kid from New York who has come out west to photograph the frontier travels by train, then later by foot, to Fort Doom, where they set up shop. He for his photos; they for their brothel. Along the way, Ingvordsen throws in two pointless killings, one of a girl in the cornfields to open the film, and the other victim being the group’s tour guide. The remainder of the 40 or so opening minutes is taken up with asinine dialogue and the worst sense of plotting ever put to direct-to-video film.

Then the always creepy Billy Drago (who is also top-billed) shows up to, well, act creepy. I think this guy would look creepy sleeping, or singing “Happy Birthday” to his grandkids. That is, if anyone was brave enough to give this guy kids, much less grandkids. Seriously, folks, you haven’t seen creepy until you’ve seen Billy Drago.

There are many reasons why “Fort Doom” stinks up the joint, but one big reason is director Christian Ingvordsen, whose last name is not only hard to type from memory, but who also seems to have no discernible talent behind the camera (he’s also an actor, apparently, and plays the Sheriff in the film). Which is odd, considering that the man has directed over 20 films, and has worked constantly over the years. Ingvordsen shows absolutely no ability with the camera, which you’d think he could put to better use considering the film’s DV pedigree.

Without a doubt, the film’s biggest mistake (of many) was making the first 40 minutes so interminably long and boring. To show you just how poorly paced the film is, the movie opens up with a breezy, sunshine-ridden look at the surrounding woods and prairies. The music that plays over this sequence is of the, “Listen to it for too long and you’ll die of sugar shock” variety. No doubt the gimmick here was to cut away from this disgustingly sweet surrounding to the brutal murder in the cornfields, in order to inject a sudden contrast of sweetness and death. A better filmmaker would have cut the chase in the cornfields by about 50 seconds, but as with everything about “Fort Doom”, the chase just keeps going and going and going…

Later, when Rochon’s hookers start getting knocked off, and Confederate rebels raid the fort (don’t ask), you’re just wishing the movie would end already. How could a movie so bad take more than 90 minutes?

The best part of the film is the ending. Not just the realization that, finally, this nightmare is over, but also because the filmmakers treat us to a series of bloopers over the closing credits. I have to say, I love bloopers. Low-budget, big-budget — bloopers from film sets kill me. It’s obvious everyone had a ball making the film if the bloopers are any indication; it’s just too bad what they were making was utter crap.

J. Christian Ingvordsen (director) / Matthew M. Howe (screenplay)
CAST: Debbie Rochon …. Lacy Everett
Billy Drago …. Mr. Fallow
Rick Washburn …. Dr. Reed James
Joshua Park …. Jason Devries

Buy Fort Doom on DVD