So what is it that disturbs you, Holland?
Well, going down the checklist, let’s see…
Subways after nightfall scare me. Nothing amplifies the feeling of being utterly alone and vulnerable like a subway platform around midnight. Look in either direction and you can see there’s no one there to help you. Look at the empty tracks and you know there’s no fast escape. Add to that the nagging feeling that there are underground threats you can’t prepare for – mole people, giant spiders, meth-addled hobos, whatever.
Fundamentalist Christian Cults scare me. The glazed eyes, the dowdy uniform dress, the vacant smiles… but ultimately, what unnerves me is the possibility that they believe more than I don’t. That their fanaticism is more powerful in some way than good ol’ fashioned logic.
The Apocalypse scares me. Not, like, “Mad Max” apocalypse – though not really something I’d like to live through either – but the Biblical Revelation of the End of Days. You’re reading some pleasant series of parables explaining why you should do right by your fellow man and then BAM! Turns out apparently part of being Christian is also getting involved in some epic battle against horrible demons and shit.
That makeup effect where the skin starts growing over a person’s eyes and mouth. Freaks me right the hell out.
Getting stabbed. Not that there are a lot of ways I would like to be violently assaulted, but…knives are definitely in the top two of ways I would not.
So. If the 2007 horror movie End of the Line features dark subway tunnels, lunatic fundamentalists, the Capital-A Apocalypse, the gross mouth-thing, AND a whole buncha pretty gruesome stabbings…why is it…uhm…agonizingly awful?
Turns out, there are two things that can kill what should be sure-fire horror: Terrible acting, and French-Canadians.
When writer-director-producer-I’m-sure-he’s-got-a-cameo-on-screen-somewhere Maurice Devereaux was typing out his script, I’m sure he thought he was writing absolute gold. A fundamentalist cult decides to “purify” – in the stabby sense – isolated subway passengers because they believe the Apocalypse is about to happen (and oh crap they might be right!)? Where could that possibly go wrong?
At about the casting stage, I’d imagine. This movie boasts the absolute best in no-name, no-experience Canadian (and Finnish!) actors, who have two ranges – screaming, and delivering already awkward lines in the most halting of ways. Except for one gloriously hammy actor, whose enthusiastic scene-chewing drives a truck through the gaping plot hole of how exactly a face-licking, rape-happy psychotic got to be a lieutenant in a chaste Christian organization.
I’m being charitable here – the problems probably started with the script, which features two favorite pet peeves of mine: saying the name of the movie several times (yes, “End of the line” does have both a literal and figurative meaning, good of you to notice, repeatedly!), and one bit character telling the lead point-blank what her only defining characteristic is (“tough cookie,” though again, we’re being charitable).
The final lesson: Web sites devoted to movies that premiere at horror film fests and then shoot straight to DVD are remarkably generous with their good notices.