Year Released: 2003
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 60 minutes
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Let us take a moment and consider the movie Evil Dead. In it, five friends go to a remote cabin in the woods for a weekend of fun, discover some evil relics, and release a powerful demon into the world. The demon, one by one, takes over the occupants of the cabin, until none remain.
Now, let us regroup and consider “Twisted Weekend III,” which consists of a group of friends who unleash a powerful demon through the use of an evil relic. One by one the demon… but I repeat myself.
There are other parallels here: the friend who doesn’t want to play with the relic; the evil voice that calls out to the possessed. For that matter, both films were shot on a low budget and edited over a period of years (“Evil Dead” took about two, whereas “Twisted Weekend” has a copyright date that runs from 1996-2003).
There probably are other parallels, but it’s here we must diverge, as “Evil Dead” is a classic horror film, and this film… is not.
This is not to say that the film isn’t interesting or ambitious. In fact, the primary issue is that it tries too hard in some areas and not at all in others.
The basic setup goes like this. It is Lucie’s birthday party, and she’ll drink and take a whole lot of pills if she wants to. As she opens her gifts, she comes across one that isn’t from anyone at the party – a really creepy, obviously-not-designed-by-Milton-Bradley Ouija board.
She and several of her now-doped-to-the-gills cohorts decide to pull out the board, make contact with an evil spirit named “Art,” and mayhem ensues. No, Art isn’t exactly an evil-sounding name and no, it isn’t short for something more interesting or sinister, and yes, I checked the back of the video to make sure I got it right. The name of the demon is Art.
(And, by the way, no, it isn’t a metaphor for dangerous art, as near as I can ascertain. This despite the fact that the girl who brings him forth from the grave is an artist.)
That the name Art might be something of a joke might help to explain the humor of the film. It’s weird. Not weird as in different, or strange, though it is, but rather weird as in completely incongruent with the rest of the film.
Take for example, the character of Morris, who is really, really gay. Really gay. Which is important to the film, sort of, because he ends up having sex with one of the girls. Later, when she’s possessed and trying to kill him with a pair of scissors, he attempts to apologize for doing the deed with her, which I suppose would be funny if he wasn’t getting stabbed at the time.
Another example, only minutes earlier, finds one of the girls in the bathroom having a bowel movement that can only be termed explosive, while reading Playgirl magazine. Meanwhile, Morris is being chased around the apartment by a possessed friend who is wielding sharp objects and is quite intent on his demise. Is this intercutting supposed to be funny? Scary? Tough to say, and the film doesn’t offer many clues.
There are also the huge, mawing plot holes to take into consideration. Where did the board come from? Why does Art have a vendetta against this particular group of people? Why attack Violet, who didn’t play with the board at all, but pass over other partygoers who also opted out?
But flawed as the film is, there is much to like. The makeup and gore effects generally are spectacular, and more importantly, convincing. The jokes only work perhaps 10% of the time, but those that work are worth a solid belly laugh (in particular, a stoner trying to impress girls with his assistant manager job at Wendy’s). And a couple of the horror setpieces are easily as unsettling as anything you’ll find at your local multiplex.
It’s no “Evil Dead,” but at the very least it’s sure to make you reconsider breaking out the Ouija board at your next party. You’d cry too, if that happened to you.
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Posted on April 7, 2005 in Reviews by Joshua Grover-David Patterson
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