ometimes there's just no reason to make a movie. Consider
Joe Castro's "Near Death", which despite the slick movie poster, is
mostly a pointless endeavor. It's nothing more than "filmmaking" based
on the assumption that supercilious gore and hints of sex (but no actual sex)
can cover up amateurish acting, vacuous writing, lack of resources, and
someone's town home decorated poorly (including but not limited to a chandelier
that is hanging dangerously low) to look like some sort of mansion. To
top it off, the whole thing is shot on video, or digital video, or something
reasonably of low quality.
The film concerns three paranormal
"investigators" who journeys to a deceased B-movie director's house to
do some ghost hunting. The trio consists of psychic June (Perrine Moore) and
bickering lovers Billy (Scott Lunsford) and Tammy (Ali Willingham). They arrive
at the home of the late Willie Von Braham (how's that for a movie name!), which
is supposed to be haunted -- and as we discover, is currently inhabited by
flesh-eating ghouls with really, really bad teeth and a strange propensity for
acting like an over-the-top Vincent Price, but without the actual talent. And
did I mention they have really, really bad teeth? Or at least black ink smeared
on their teeth to make it look "ghoulish"?
As it turns out, Billy has invented a super duper
"computer program" that, he claims, will prove that ghosts and spirits
don't really exist. (You see, he's the skeptic of the bunch -- sort of the
Scully of the group, but without the intelligence.) Meanwhile, June keeps
getting strange visions, although since actress Perrine Moore really has no
talent to speak of, she could be having a migraine instead of actually
"acting". Then a lot of stuff happens and the audience is treated to
more fake gore and some groovy computer special effects and fun is had by all.
Unless, of course, you were expecting a good movie, in which case you came to
the wrong party.
The most disheartening thing about "Near Death"
is that it has some pretty impressive computer effects, especially for a movie
of its very limited budget. Castro and company renders some very nice death
scenes with the help of some creative sfx software. They're certainly better
effects than you'd expect in a movie of this caliber. Unfortunately the
filmmakers must have spent so much time with the effects that they forgot the
one crucial thing about making a movie: It all starts with a good script.
There isn't a good script here. In fact, there isn't much of a script here at
The story is so derivative you wonder why they even
for the Beast" had almost the same exact storyline, and that low-budget
movie was equally disastrous. But the one thing "Beast" had going for
it is that it knew what it was, and as a result it didn't skimp on the gore and
T&A. "Near Death" gives the audience a helping of gore, but aside
from T&A courtesy of a cheap murder victim early on, the rest of the movie
is one big bore. Who knew no-name actors with no talent, and with absolutely no
hope of ever making it "mainstream", were so concern with showing
gratuitous nudity? For that matter, who knew filmmakers making cheap
exploitation movies were so concern with getting actors who can't act and yet
refused to do nudity? Go figure.
At just 80 minutes, I suppose "Near Death" isn't
bad enough to completely trashed by this reviewer. Make no mistake, though, it
certainly is trash. There's not a lot of value to be had here, unless one
enjoys watching some groovy computer effects on a budget. But the truth is no
one watches low-budget horror movies for the effects. For a genre with such low
built-in expectations, the only marker of success is getting the attractive
leads to go naked at least once. Instead, we get a lousy shower scene
that shows absolutely nothing.
I swear, what is the exploitation B-movie industry coming
to when you can't even get no-name actresses to do nudity in a shower scene?