Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Diabolical (2015)

 A young mother, played by Ali Larter, and her two small children are being terrorized by what seem to be ghosts that constantly appear and disappear throughout the movie. We don't know where or why they are terrorizing the family, but that surprisingly doesn't seem to be the biggest issue the family is facing. Bankruptcy, the recent death of Ali's husband, trips from children's services due to her son fighting in school, and her daughter being bullied are just a handful of the problems they deal with. Honestly, I don't really see the point of adding so much drama to a family that is already being haunted by evil spirits. With the focus of the movie constantly shifting from one problem to another, it throws the pace off and detracts from the suspense that the film tries to build.

Let me say that I like Ali Larter as an actress. I very much enjoyed her in the Resident Evil series as well as the Final Destination movies. However, I can't let that overshadow the fact that she just doesn't seem like she's trying in this movie. She seems to react to every situation with the same expression and tone, and not in a way that you would think someone would react in real life. I mean, your husband dies, your children are in danger of being taken from you, you're broke, and being haunted. You would think that would evoke some real terror or fear or something, not just numb recital of lines. The actor that plays her son is no better, as every scene he stands there at a half-grin waiting for the queue to say his lines. This lack of performance detracts from the credibility of the scenes and comes across as lazy.

At around the one hour mark, I found myself in the same situation as I did with the new Fantastic Four movie - waiting for the plot to unfold. Seriously, an hour into the movie and we were no better informed than we were when the film started. The plot had not developed one bit. The family was still in turmoil due to bullying and bankruptcy and spirits, and there was no foreseeable conclusion in sight. The spirits themselves were grotesque, mostly burned or skinless, and some didn't even have legs. I looked forward to their appearance as I assumed it would lead to a climax of some kind, but alas, an hour into the movie and the same situations left us with the same result - inevitable continuation of cyclical turmoil.

Finally, with around 15 or 20 minutes left in the movie, Ali Larter realizes one of the spirits is wearing a shirt with a logo on it - the very same logo of the bank representative that offered to purchase her house. She does some research and discovers the logo belongs to an evil corporation that is teleporting prisoners from the future in an effort to gain control of her real estate, at least that was the best I could gather. The spirits were in fact test subjects that were sent through time to scare them out of their home. I mean, you have the technology for time travel AND teleportation and the best you can do with it is use it to scare some poor family out of their house? Come on. When I realized this, I sat in my chair completely dumbfounded that someone actually made that the plot to a movie.

Ironically, the main "spirit" that keeps showing up is believed to be her deceased husband, when in fact it is actually her son from the future! This revelation is brought to us when the family kills him, having mistaken his intentions to be there to kill them, and Ali Larter is teleported to the future - I'm assuming by mistake as they were trying to teleport the dead spirit/prisoner back. Don't worry though, because she is just as quickly teleported back to present day, now donning future clothes and by all circumstances looking well. The End. Fade to credits. I'm sorry, but what about the two dead cops in her house that her future-son killed? What about the bankruptcy? What about child services taking her children? Certainly all this chaos isn't going to bode well in her fight for custody of her children. The film literally ends with ambulance and police crowded outside of her home and no resolution. I mean... what?

I would not recommend anyone waste their time with this movie. It's not good for a Friday night horror movie, or a rainy day horror movie, or even a last movie on Earth horror movie. I don't know who this movie was made for. The acting is terrible, the story sucks, the plot makes no sense and the ending brings you no closer to being less confused than you were when it started. If someone brings up this movie as a recommendation when gathered 'round with friends and you're all looking for a good horror movie to watch, politely revoke their speaking privileges and possibly all future advice from them. Actually, it's better to play it safe and not ride in a vehicle being operated by that person. Let's just go ahead and say stay away from them altogether.

1 out of 4.
Stay far, far away from this unless you are looking to fall asleep.

Cheers and goodnight.

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