Monday, September 05, 2005

Sixteen Tongues (2004)

Scooter McCrae's no-budget porno-holocaust feature has, to its advantage, a seemingly limitless well of ambition. As with his previous feature (the quasi-zombie epic Shatter Dead), McCrae seeks to implode a genre by burrowing deep into it and stripping it of any sense of excitement. He's made an end-of-the-world cyberpunk picture in spirit. However, his dark sense of human nature has twisted the regular tropes of the genre and given it a queasy authenticity -- to watch this, one could conceivably say that it truly feels like humanity's last gasp. There's nothing left to this world except sex and death (in a neat touch, it's revealed that residents of the film's hotel have to pay to turn their porn-saturated TV sets off, not on), and all that's left for the surviving members of society to do is shut themselves away, lose themselves in sensation (note that all three characters spend every waking moment in some form of sensory overload) and wait for the inevitable end. Unfortunately, this film is more interesting to talk about than it is to watch. Reportedly, it took McCrae seven years to complete this film, and that makes sense -- this often feels like an idea chewed on for so long that it lost its initial flavor. It meanders even at a slim eighty minutes. Budgetary limitations are obvious, and while some of McCrae's ideas come off anyway others just seem silly, made even sillier by the flat, ugly DV cinematography. (The last shot, in particular, suffers from awful makeup effects.) The acting, too, is woefully inadequate (this was also a problem in Shatter Dead). It's an admirable attempt to make something different and memorable within the limitations of no-budget filmmaking, but it just doesn't work. A stronger sense of humor might have helped.

Grade: C


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