Sunday, October 4, 2009

October Horror-thon #4: "100 Feet" (2009)

Fresh from a stint in the clink after offing her nogoodnik husband in self defense, Marnie Watson (Famke Janssen) is moving onto a prison of another kind. She's sentenced to a year of house arrest, restricted to a mere 100-foot radius within her own home. But shortly after her term begins, strange events begin taking place at the Watson residence. A bloody stain on the wall has a habit of reappearing, objects seem to move by themselves, and Marnie herself is assaulted by an invisible presence. She quickly deduces that her dearly departed ex is still hanging around, his vengeful spirit determined to make her life a living nightmare. With the cops already working against her, Marnie has no one to depend on but herself as she prepares to rid her house of its ghostly occupant before her own life is lost.

100 Feet marks the first time horror veteran Eric Red has stepped behind the camera in over a decade. His genre efforts have been nothing short of schizophrenic, ranging from the legendary (Near Dark) to the conspicuously awful (Bad Moon). 100 Feet falls squarely in the middle, a mother lode of suspense that unfortunately goes largely untapped. The flick is at its best when you haven't the faintest about what's going on, whether Marnie is cuckoo bananas or if her ex really is back from beyond the grave. But like the ambitious but overblown Martyrs, 100 Feet is a story that plays its hand way too early. All of its secrets are on the table before the first act is finished, leaving the film with nothing to do but show Marnie getting clobbered over and over (set pieces from which she recovers at a rather suspect speed). Janssen's performance is pretty hit-and-miss (wounded and sympathetic one second, shrieking harpy the next), and even with a modest chunk of screen time, I wondered how the story would play out from the point-of-view of Bobby Cannavale's embittered lawman.

With a nifty premise made for the theatre and an overall impressive production design, I wouldn't call 100 Feet a total bust. There were certain scenes and aspects that I really enjoyed, though I wished they were part of a more consistently creepy film. 100 Feet will have its admirers, but a good portion of folks will spend more time staring at their watches than at the screen.

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