On the third day of Halloween a forestry ranger gave to me: It Waits (Steven Monroe, 2005)
Today’s movie is part of my list of formative horror films (refer back to Day 1’s post if you want more clarification), and It Waits is certainly one of them.
When I was in middle school I used to watch the SciFi/SyFy channel religiously, using the then-newfound DVR capability to record and watch all sorts of drivel. My mom loved shitty weather sci-fi, whereas I favored DinoCroc and the like. Honestly, that was basically all SciFi showed: outrageous disaster movies and creature features.
Once upon a weekend, I was scrolling through the channel guide for SciFi, choosing what movies I wanted to record. It Waits was on the lineup, so I recorded it on a whim and watched it after school the next day.
For some reason, It Waits stuck with me. I loved it, and I think I kept the recording for like a month until my mom got fed up with me hogging DVR space. I recently purchased my very own copy of It Waits, and the DVD proudly sits in my collection, probably thinking that it has done pretty well for itself.
To be quite clear, this movie is a few degrees short of a hot goddamn mess. It’s a very simple movie with poor attempts at character development, sub-par acting, and awkward writing. But it holds a very special place in my heart, and on this list.
Something about a dam
A quick rundown of the positively riveting action:
Forestry ranger Danny St. Claire (Cerina Vincent) must deal with the emotional aftermath of the death of her best friend in her lonely ranger station, when shit starts to get weird. Concerned for her wellbeing, Danny’s boyfriend and fellow ranger Justin (Dominic Zamprogna) drives to the station to stay with her. Stuff starts to go down- the jeep gets flipped and eviscerated, the satellite destroyed- and Danny quickly realizes that something unnatural is stalking her woods. All, of course, to the sounds of pseudo-acoustic 90’s slow jams. And there’s a parrot involved.
Like I said, few degrees short of a hot mess.
The plot is pretty simple, your average “something bad in the woods” stuff. It’s not thrilling, and the backstory behind the monster is similarly average, a generic, totally unspecific “Native American” demon. The writers also seemed hellbent on torturing Danny. Seriously, is this a monster movie, or a movie about everyone Danny’s ever loved slowly being brutally removed from her life? It’s a fair cop, to be honest. This poor lady gets dealt a pretty shitty hand in this film.
The one thing that actually bothers me is one of the issues Danny’s boss brings up to her. According to her superior, the dam she’s supposed to be monitoring is starting to crack and that she needs to be sluicing off millions of gallons of water a day to alleviate the pressure. Does this ever happen? No. So I ask you, what’s the real horror here, this hell-beast, or that fact that this dam is about to explode and no one remembers.
God bless Cerina Vincent
Cerina Vincent is a b-movie queen, and I love her for it. But her acting here is not stellar. To be fair, the writing is far worse: full of weird “one-liners” and no sense of build. The writers aimed for Deep and Dramatic, but mostly landed on Awkward and Strange. I honestly don’t think she’s a terrible actress, but It Waits is not this lady’s magnum opus. Nor is it Dominic’s. Or the director’s. You get the gist.
It’s got some good things though I swear
So this movie isn’t a totally bust! It’s solidly generic and average in some most aspects, but I honestly think it delivers with regards to the monster. We never get a full look at the thing until over halfway in- all of the other interactions with the creature have been glimpses and flashes. It’s the Jaws strategy, but it works.
Except unlike the Jaws strategy, I honestly think the creature FX in It Waits is quite good! The creature is kind of Charmed/Buffy/Angel looking, but pretty unique and creepy except for the shitty wings. They show it up close several times in the second half, and it’s a solid FX creation.
The monster is also particularly vicious- it’s intelligent, and routinely fucks with Danny, digging up bodies and artfully arranging them for her as a “treat” when she returns to the station. It goes above and beyond just “brutally murdering” and being creepy, and intentionally taunts its victims. This demon is in it for shits and giggles, and that’s honestly terrifying.
The gore is pretty good too. Nothing inventive, but generally pretty convincing and splatter-y and fun. I also thought the set was cool: Danny’s ranger station is essentially a glass box, and all one room. She really has no shelter- it’s either the station or the woods.
This would be a good “Netflix and Chill” movie, because you don’t really have to watch the whole thing to enjoy the movie. As long as you are vaguely focused for some parts, you can be “otherwise distracted” for most of it and still enjoy the movie. It Waits isn’t spectacular, but it’s still a good time, and will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s cute to remember how I used to think that It Waits was gory.
Tomorrow, I’m going to talk about a horror movie that is truly great, despite what people think. And whooooo boy, it ramps up the gore. So friends, for Day Four- hop in and take a ride on Ghost Ship.
Featured image source: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0430239/mediaviewer/rm2085033728