Director:Darren Lynn Bousman
Writer:Darren Lynn Bousman (screenplay)
After the death of his wife and child, an author who has lost his faith in God, travels to Barcelona to visit his estranged brother, (a preacher) and dying father, where he comes to realize that many important events in his life all seem relate to the number 11. As he investigates, he finds himself trapped in an ever-worsening nightmare that could herald the apocalypse. Demonic entities and Hellish visions begin to plague his every moment, as he comes to learn the terrible truth behind the mystery, and all the time the date 11-11-11 draws slowly nearer....
What the fuck happened?
Lets get this straight. I loved MOTHERS DAY. I enjoyed all of Darren Lynn Bousmans previous efforts, but I freaking loved MOTHERS DAY. (Heres the proof!). That film was vicious, unrelenting, intelligent and paced within an inch of its life. It managed to hold court with the French New Wave of Horror, and not embarrass itself, and it was one of the few remakes that not only surpassed the original, but kicked its teeth out and left it bleeding on the racetrack.. Bousman has been growing and growing as a filmmaker. The guy has serious skill's behind a camera and crew....
And look at the plot for 11-11-11! Its practically a guarantee of something special. The main conceit of the movie is immediately intriguing. We all love a good cosmological/theological conspiracy, after all. And to come across a film that delves into that world of the esoteric and numeracy, and to have it a Horror movie...and directed by the guy who's last film was MOTHERS DAY!? Its a no brainer, man. This film just had to be great.
So I repeat...what the fuck happened?
I'll tell you what happened.... 11-11-11 is perhaps the greatest example I've ever come across of how fatally a poor editing job can fuck up a movie. Its actually quite mind-boggling to sit through a film such as this one, where so much is done so well, and to find the whole thing has been clearly dismantled beyond all repair in the editing suite! Practically every editing choice is wrong. Every single one! Your left agape at the mess you just sat through, (that's if you manage to get through the damn thing. Sleep, drug addiction or insanity may well claim you long before the halfway mark), as every single scenes pace and power is tossed into a bottomless editing hell. Scenes that should be short, sharp and to the point are dragged on endlessly, and scenes that demand the room to breathe, and allow for the audiences emotional engagement, are practically flew through. Its hard to comprehend, it really is.
There are some great, great scenarios in 11-11-11 that should and could be Horror gold. Yet they falter each and every time, in every way imaginable. We're thrown from engaging scenes, seemingly mid-action or mid-conversation. We're on one emotional trip one minute, and volleyed without warning into it's opposite without a seconds notice, with no closure, and no time to soak in the meaning or the impact of the moment just passed.
Of course, its not only the audience that suffers during this madness. The poor actors all suffer right along with us, as their perfectly fine performances are buried under crazy pacing, scene switching and general unfathomable nonsense. And I liked the cast. Timothy Gibbs, our lead, is a fine actor and has real screen presence. He has a meaty roll here too, and one into which he throws a great deal of effort. Hell, I even quickly got over the fact that he looks like the lovechild of George Clooney and Xavier Bardem. He carries the film well, (or would), but it feels like the 'blocking' of scenes was done under the influence of amphetamine. All sense of timing is lost.
The rest of the cast hold their weight too. Wendy Glenn is a fine looking lady, and does well with her small role as Xavier Clooneys possible love interest, and Micheal Landis is solid too, as our leads wheelchair bound brother. The dialogue between Landis' preacher and his atheistic brother is often interesting, if a little halfhearted in it's convictions.
And that's another thing.... it is pretty well written. It could be tighter, sure, but 11-11-11 deals well with issues of faith and atheism, and manages to avoid the pitfall of bias, for the most part. Some scenes are a little repetitive, but I love a good theological discussion, or even an average one. At some points I felt this film was some christian propaganda piece, and I was pleased to learn that it may not be. If it truly has a point to make, it failed to do so; but its nice to see these issues in film. And who really needs closure anyway. THE WICKER MAN had no closure. In fact, I hated Lord Summers-isle and Edward Woodward's Copper equally, (both assholes,if you ask me).
Okay, so its reasonably well written, has a good cast, has a fucking great concept. What else does 11-11-11 have going for it?
How about beautiful cinematography? Yep, the film looks lovely. Mostly shot in Barcelona, it utilized the environment well, and the house/mansion in which most of the action takes place is labyrinthine, and has a genuinely creepy, Gothic vibe that fits the, (intended) tone of the film well. It lends well to the handful of (would be), genuinely creepy moments and scenarios the film has going for it. Its all good, friendo's.
We also have an ending that, while many will see coming, as I did, is still very clever, and very enjoyable and a satisfying conclusion to the tale. In fact, the last ten minutes of this film are the only points in which it seems to settle into its groove, and just as it takes off....its done. Jesus....
11-11-11 is perhaps the biggest disappointment of the year. I only learned about it a few weeks ago, but it caught my imagination immediately. It has so much potential, and does so many things well, that its damned infuriating that the whole enterprise was torn down at the final hurdle, in the editing room. Theological Horror is rare, good theological Horror is even rarer. This one had all the guns in place to shoot down the opposition and take its place among the best of them. Instead, its a clipped, poorly-paced mess that is near impossible to get into. The cast, the crew and most of all, the Director, deserved a much better outcome than the finished work. I just hope to god they manage to re-edit this thing on its home-release. There's a great little Horror film living inside this bullshit, screaming to get out.
I hold out out real hope for Bousman. He's got the goods, but for gods sake man, next time hire an editor who knows what the fuck he's doing. Imagine how annoying it would be if a review was to be edited in this fashion, and just stop mid-
4.5 Xavier Clooneys out of 10