We all know the feeling. You've seen an awe inspiring trailer or read a jaw dropping synopsis and yet somehow the cinematic experience itself falls decisively flat. Whether its due to poor structure, heavy reliance on an overblown gimmick or generally weak writing here are four fantastic concepts with ultimately flawed execution. Rather than just rant I have also offered solutions as to how the films might have been improved.
4.) RED EYE
Talk about a film lacking courage. I mean, even the trailer had to spoil Red Eye's well executed twist. The idea of two strangers bonding with the film teasing romantic implications only to reveal one of the leads as a villain was a really cool concept but the film played its cards too early and after an intriguing premise quickly descended into an overcooked and generic thriller. TAKE TWO: To all extents and purposes you advertise this film as a rom-com with two likeable and popular leads in Rachel McAdams and Cillian Murphy. The film plays as a more mainstream version of Before Sunrise with two characters gradually falling for one another during a plane ride. They bond, share their deepest feelings and all that other stuff which you anticipate from the rom-com genre. As they step off the plane however you turn the story on its head by revealing Murphy's character to be a hitman. The pair agree to go for a drink and in a private phone conversation Murphy's lead is established as someone who has been assigned to kill this woman who we thought he was falling in love with. He walks over to her with his charmingly deceptive smile as the credits begin to roll leaving the audience with what would be one of the cruelest finales and ingenious pieces of dramatic irony ever crafted which would also completely subvert the expectations of a worn out romantic formula.
3.) SWITCHBLADE ROMANCE
The first hour of Switchblade Romance was the scariest piece of enigmatic terror I had witnessed since my first viewing of the usually incomparable Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The horror of not knowing why this vicious man had entered this home and gone on a ruthless killing streak had me completely on the edge of my seat and fully behind the vulnerable female protagonist who has been forced to witness such horrifying carnage. Whilst some praised the ensuing twist I felt that it just wasn't needed and presented the perfect example of a device being used for the sake of it as opposed to making the story feel more psychologically convincing. A far more interesting twist might have explored the motives of the killer and shown the family victims to be not quite as innocent and sweet as they first appeared. TAKE TWO: As before the killer enters the house and begins killing off family members. The terrified female protagonist hides under the bed. A flashback ensues where we understand that many years ago the killer suffered horrible bullying at the hands of the man who now owns the house. As a kid he swore that he'd have his revenge. Back to present. The killer has got what he came for and is about to leave when he hears a noise from upstairs. A spring has just broke from the bed that the female protagonist is hidden under... The killer walks upstairs as a final deadly chase ensues. Simple but effective.
2.) HOSTEL II
Aside from the well crafted Count Bathory inspired death sequence, Hostel II was a dull, overly violent horror outing which presented grisly scenes lacking any real thought or tension. There was a chilling sequence that stuck with me however which is when we see the torture advertisement spreading like wildfire through the multiple phones of several businessman. The idea of these seemingly normal, successful men casually arranging to torture innocent victims was quietly terrifying and certainly the exploration of their motives might have been far more intriguing than having to follow around the usual crew of annoyingly stereotypical teenagers. TAKE TWO: Two close male colleagues regularly meet up to shoot the shit, share dark secrets and fantasise about killing people who annoy them. One thing leads to another and after a particularly drunken evening they agree to take out some of their frustration on their boss whilst dressed in masks. It begins as a bit of fun but as the violence escalates things get out of control and they end up killing an innocent human being. This should put a stop to their antics but neither man can deny the thrill the power gave them and so when they hear about the risk free Hostel torture system they are obliged to give it a go. On the outside they appear to be well balanced and hard working family men who seem to have everything they could possibly want out of life. Yet deep inside they hold tightly wound feelings of resentment and anger that makes them want to inflict pain upon helpless people. We see the two sides of their personalities. The part of them that manages to perfectly evoke normality and the violent truth lurking inside that manifests itself in scenes of bloody torture. As a peculiar cross between In the Company of Men and Wolf Creek the film would explore man's compulsive desire for violence and power.
1.) THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT
The concept of the butterfly effect and the very true inevitablity of the course of peoples lives radically changing if one seemingly small incident in history were to be somewhat altered is undoubtedly fascinating and had the potential to culminate in a gripping cinematic experience. Unfortunately this film focused far too intensely on the gimmick however as opposed to attempting to develop one of the numerous scenarios it presented. Just when I became intrigued about how the protagonist would deal with his new life it was all too easy for him to travel back in time and try and change things up. The hard hitting moments in the film were also marred by the representation of overly stereotypical characters which made large portions of the picture's drama carry the vibe of a tv movie of the week. TAKE TWO: Throw away the clunky and repetitive middle section. Instead begin Act Two where Act Three nearly ends with Kutcher's character trapped in a wheelchair. His life may be shit with his mother ill and the woman of his dreams in a serious relationship with one of his friends but in this scenario a number of the people around him are truly happy. The protagonist must then make the ultimate decision as to whether or not he changes circumstances for his own benefit which would ultimately risk the happy lives of his close friends. This would result in a challenging and emotionally engaging piece of cinema which would present one of those conflicting situations that really gets audience members thinking. It also might be wise to hire an actor who can pull off more than one face. Kutcher is very good as a charming, energetic lead but he is far less adept at portaying any form of inner anguish and I've always found it hard to take him seriously in such roles. So these are the four films which I thought had five star potential but which didn't quite live up to their intriguing concepts. I'm sure that you have strong thoughts on the films that I've chosen as well as various opinions on films which you thought had the potential to be better than their end result so feel free to add to the debate by leaving your thoughts in the comments section below.