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(Movie Review by James D. Bass) In the 2007 film “Somebody Help Me” it is apparent that writer/director Chris Stokes is a fan of horror flicks, as he manages to borrow almost every line, and every plot point from other films. This is the cinematic equivalent of paint-by-numbers, with the colors switched. Borrowing from his cadre of artists on his record label TUG (The Ultimate Group) Stokes creates a film best watched in a group setting so that everyone can get a chance to point out which film each scene is stolen from and what’s destined to happen next. If you’ve never seen a horror film, this one might make you squirm, if only during the murder and mutilation. However, if you’re a fan… this recipe is followed to the letter, but delivers a bland dish.
Music artists turned actors Omari “Omarion” Grandberry (Darryl Jennings) and Marques Houston (Brendan Young) deliver somewhat tolerable performances as the main characters who, along with their girlfriends (played by Alexis Fields and Brooklyn Sudano) head off to a cabin to celebrate a birthday. Joined later by white friends that disappear as quickly as they appear the quartet dance along to the familiar soundtrack in perfect step. Inter-cut with scenes of sociopathic brutality that kept a make-up artist employed for one more project the plot ambles forward like a zombie in search of a victim that makes the mistake of slowing down or, of course, wandering out into the woods alone. Viewing the DVD allowed the pause button to make space for groaning and head shaking. Fields’ character is burdened when asked to describe their missing friends of providing the one word answer of… you guessed it, “White”.
Shot in Arrowhead, California “Somebody Help Me” is gifted with some beautiful green foliage as a picturesque back drop. But the film negative of the central characters was unnecessary, and disappointing. It is certainly understandable that African-Americans need to claim their rightful place in every media to achieve more equality. But one hopes going into something like this that Stokes would attempt to make it his own. Apparently, casting is the only change that needed to be made to deliver another film to this genre. However, there is just enough delivered from cast and crew to spark hope that next time art will emerge. For now, this hotel room painting probably won’t catch your eye.
Chris Stokes (director) / Chris Stokes (screenplay)
CAST: Donna DuPlantier … Nurse
Alexis Fields … Kimmy
Jessica Friedman … Barbara Hilton
Luke Fryden … Ken Thomas
Omarion Grandberry … Darryl Jennings
Marques Houston … Brendan Young
Christopher Jones … Seth