Scott Milam's script just gets dumber from there. The hostages have plenty of chances to get the upper hand (like when De Mornay and trigger-happy son Warren Kole dance to Roger Miller's
"Do Wacka Do" and everyone's too obliviously busy watching two bickering
hostages brawl), but only try anything when it's completely impossible, because otherwise the film couldn't be stretched out to 112 minutes with about nine climaxes and a terrible ending. And this takes place in a neighborhood, but somehow, the screaming, the gunshots, and the commotion attract no attention. There seems to be one cop on duty in the whole town. Plus, there's a bunch of news and radio reports throughout the film of a tornado warning, with the twister on its way, but it must've taken the scenic route because it never comes. De Mornay's performance almost makes this worth seeing, even if she's basically playing her HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE character two decades later. She's always been an underrated actress and she's pretty terrific here, whether she's cozily sweet-talking her hostages with an evil gleam in her eyes, or the way she delivers Mother's cutting remarks. The bit where she takes a quick look at Evigan's extensive tattoos and, just from that, condescendingly sneers "Hmm...must've been rough after your father left," is priceless. It's too bad the film isn't up to her level. (R, 112 mins).
THE SHOCK LABYRINTH
(Japan/The Netherlands, 2009)
(2012 US release)
There's not much here that's overtly scary (depending on how terrified you are of a stuffed toy rabbit that seems to get around on its own), but Shimizu is focused more on mood than shocks. Though he eventually caves to some iconic J-horror elements here and there, Shimizu's use of garish red and blue lighting, surreal imagery, creepy mannequins and animatronic funhouse figures, and a ghostly girl in a white dress indicate a very intentional homage to both Mario Bava and Dario Argento. There's audio and visual shout-outs to Argento's INFERNO, PHENOMENA, and SUSPIRIA and Bava's KILL, BABY...KILL! and LISA AND THE DEVIL just to name a few. So, fans may have wanted another JU-ON, but that's not THE SHOCK LABYRINTH's motive. There's almost no gore, but it does get a bit intense near the end. While the final reveal isn't exactly a shocker, THE SHOCK LABYRINTH is one of Shimizu's most interesting projects, and one not at all deserving of the derision that's been heaped upon it. (Unrated, 89 mins).