Sometimes, predictable is better

Once in a while, if a film tries to do something different and fails miserably, you realize you really just need a good old derivative hack ‘n’ slash to make things better. Which is why I followed up Cassadaga with Axed.

CASSADAGA (2011)

cassadaga

This film’s intro offers so much promise, but the film doesn’t deliver on its setup at all. It completely goes off the rails. And to make matters worse, it runs nearly two dragging hours long.

Harkening back to the demented intros of films like Pieces and Nightmare in a Damaged Brain, Cassadaga opens with a little boy wearing a dress and playing with a marionette. His mom barges in and freaks out on him. The kid clearly has gender issues, but what he does to himself next is pretty heinous…

Don’t expect to ever learn anything more about that boy. Instead of exploring this character deeper, all you get to know for the rest of the movie is that he now drags women to his lair and hacks off their limbs just so he can string them with rope and re-attach them, creating human marionettes, which earns him the nickname Geppetto. Sick, and a premise that could prove very creepy. But sadly, Geppetto’s role is totally a side story that gets a very limited portion of the hour and fifty-two minutes this film lasts.

cassadaga puppet

Instead, we meet a deaf teacher who already lost her mother and is now going through emotional turmoil after the death of her younger sister. So she goes to live on a college campus to paint (I don’t know), and Louise Fletcher lets her live in a huge mansion that has only one other tenant—Louise’s son, who spends all his time in his room jerking off to Internet porn. Unfortunately, we get to see even less of him than we do of Geppetto, and we pretty much forget he even exists until he appears on screen again. So essentially, it’s like deaf chick is living by herself in a huge mansion.

She becomes close to the father of one of her students, played by Kevin Alejandro (Lafeyette’s adorable boyfriend on True Blood). Their relationship grows, they go to a psychic so she can communicate with her sister, and then some scary ghost girl starts harassing her (she didn’t kill you, you dumb scary ghost girl bitch!). The big problem here is that so many of the scary ghost girl parts are reliant on audio stings, but the fricking main girl is DEAF. Every time she jumps or screams and we’re signaled to be scared by sound, something just doesn’t jive.

cassadaga girlI don’t see anything…and i can’t hear anything.
So why am I acting all paranoid?

Not to mention, she speaks perfectly. The plot says she wasn’t born deaf but lost her hearing, which begs the question; do people who lose their hearing still retain perfect speech or will they begin tripping over it after a prolonged period of not being able to hear themselves? Similarly, the psychic has an assistant who has completely had his eyes gouged out (another random shocker just tossed in there), yet he moves around and interacts with people like he can see everything. WTF with this movie?

As deaf chick begins to experience weird supernatural shit—mostly involving worms in places they shouldn’t be—she and her boyfriend try to solve the mystery of a murder she stumbles upon in a newspaper article, and they begin to suspect Louise’s deadbeat-off boy.

cassadaga ghost girl

Eventually, absolutely nothing ties together, deaf chick encounters Geppetto, we learn nothing about what became of his gender identity issues (he doesn’t wear a dress or anything these days), it’s not a particularly terrifying final sequence, and we don’t really learn anything about the ghost girl. The whole point of the movie seems to be so that the deaf chick can stop blaming herself for her sister’s death. Oh, and if you stick around until after the credits, you get another creepy ghost kid scare for no logical reason.

AXED (2012)

axed cover

Axed is so simple and straightforward that you revel in its cheap shocks and scares. It’s also a good film to add to your list of movies to watch on Father’s Day.

A man gets fired. He goes home and we learn that he thinks his daughter is a slut and his son, who is regularly bullied at school, is a homo. So he bullies both of them. Then, driving the kids and mom to school and work, respectively, he tells them they’re playing hooky for the day. He drives them to an isolated house and gives them all gifts, including skimpy panties for the daughter and a gay porn mag for the son.

axed sonWhat do you think? Gay face?

As dad begins to unravel, an axe comes into play, and they spend the rest of the movie trying to—you know—dodge it.

axed daddy axe

While the film is suspenseful and throws in some average gore, it is also an exercise in frustration. After the dad clearly proves he’s lost his shit (he murders someone), they all sit down for a “nice” dinner—with sharp knives and pointy forks—yet they bend to his every command, even though it’s three against one and he doesn’t always have a weapon on him. This goes on ad nauseam until the movie ends, so they kind of deserve everything they get.

Axed daddy car

While the movie doesn’t particularly stray off course from its obvious premise, the big WTF moment comes when they are being chased by dad through the woods in the dark in the middle of nowhere and all of a sudden, the daughter’s boyfriend just appears and is like “I told you I’d find you”! I’m all for a body count, but that moment is absolutely absurd.

But the most irritating thing about Axed? There’s absolutely no vindication for the maybe-gaybie son. He is a fucking pussy right until the bitter end. Plus, we never do learn if he’s really gay.

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES.

I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.

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