Thursday, February 23, 2006

Cradle of Fear (2001)

Any film that opens with a guy in white facepaint literally tearing apart the head of an unlucky hoodlum can't be all bad, and in the interest of charity the makers of Cradle of Fear put all the good stuff in the first thirty minutes. Ostensibly an omnibus feature, this film is just an excuse to string together bad gore effects while Dani Filth, lead singer of black-metal band Cradle of Filth, acts spooky and evil. The first tale, though, isn't half bad as far as these things go; in telling the tale of an unfortunate Gothette who picks up the wrong man for a one-night stand and becomes plagued by weird hallucinations, director Alex Chandon lets his imagination (as well as that of his makeup men) go wild. In particular, there's a computer-augmented effect involving a man with no lips and an inverted canal where his nose should be that warrants a rewind. Chandon's no Kubrick (he's not even H.G. Lewis), but he does show some basic filmmaking talent in this first bit. Once the insectoid-baby demon births itself, though, all the good ideas evaporate. What's left is a tedious slog through the lower echelons of no-budget gore. It'd be risible if it weren't so fucking silly. The fourth and final tale also provides a bit of interest, but it's only because, thematically and structurally, it anticipates Olivier Assayas's demonlover. If you can imagine that film made by a bunch of goofy, gore-obsessed Goths rather than a brilliant, elliptical French auteur, you can save yourself some time. Also, Dani Filth is not as spooky or as convincingly evil as he thinks he is. He's mostly just lame.

Grade: D+


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