By the time this film came out, I was more than a little eager to see a new John Carpenter film. As a director of films, it had been nine years since his previous film, and approximately four/five years since he’d directed a couple of episode for TV. So, I was hoping that this would be his comeback to the big screen.
While this is very nicely directed by John Carpenter, the script is a little obvious and old hat by the time this came out, the ideas here had already been done many times, and we knew what was going to happen along the way when it came to who would die and how. The characters seemed to be going through the motions of bumping into every trope known, and therefore we don’t really feel any attachment or fear for them.
The scares… are only mildly scary, we can see that John Carpenter tried to do his best with his style of slowly building up the tension, but it seems that those editing the film were trying to make a film which was short and to the point, which leaves us with a film that doesn’t let the audience enjoy the atmosphere or the characters which could have been so much more.
It feels as if the company held a little too much control and wanted to get to what they thought were the scares, blood and gore. This, for me, has never been Carpenter’s style, his films have always felt to me that he likes to take his time in showing us something more than blood and gore. But those with the money felt that the modern audience should have a much more fast passed and shock value with this film. Therefore, this feels as if it was taken out of the hands of the artists and put together by the business men. This may explain why John Carpenter has only done a couple of shorts since this was released.
This is not a terrible film, there is some tension, but it is much less than we may expect, the characters we are siding with, are a little hard to connect with, but in the setting in which they are trapped, this may be understandable. We’re never sure of where we stand with them, which does leave us wanting to get to know them a little better. The idea of knowing less does not work well in this film, in the way that it did in John Carpenter’s “Halloween”. The writers seemed to think that withholding information about the characters would make them more interesting, causing us to wonder about them, but, when we do find out anything, it is barely worth knowing and we don’t really find ourselves caring.
But saying all of this, it is still worth checking out, there is some enjoyment to be had here, even if you do know what is going to happen to who, and why.