Feb 25, 2011

Star Vehicle

The last I had seen Canadian director Ryan Nicholson he had been bowling strikes with his grotesque neo-revival of some odd, extreme horror circuitry in Gutterballs. Skipping right on over Hanger, a film Nicholson directed previously, I tackled Star Vehicle without either a care in the world or a care for the synopsis. This led me down a sinister road pertaining to dismal line delivery and deadbeat violence. Star Vehicle is one of those strange occurrences in horror where the violence isn't amped up past 11 and the storyline fails to hold a candle to Tommy Wiseau's The Room. A significant problem with Star Vehicle is that its attempts to channel meta but transcends an homage and becomes redundant and completely blinded by the love of horror films. You could at least consider Star Vehicle a passionate film, albeit devoid of any talent that Nicholson had hinted at in his discotheque thriller Gutterballs

Star Vehicle concerns the story of a one Don Cardini, a "movie driver" whose eventual outburst of psychopathy is as awkward as Dan Ellis' perm. Given the task of driving around the hot-to-trot cast and crew of a new horror film, Don woos scream queen obsession Riversa Red into reading his screenplay, making a jealous fool out of the director obviously styled after Nick Palumbo. What transpires are clumsy events igniting a homicidal rage that takes the lives of cast, crew, and co-workers. Now, for a film of this caliber you'd think the catalyst to such an outrageous display of produced on-screen effects would have been something of tangible evidence. The truth is farther than it seems, however, as everyone is a pawn in a game entitled as manipulation. For Nicholson to pull this stunt, to keep us guessing assuredly, isn't far past his previous films. Gutterballs pulled the same string but had the raunchy rape to accompany it and gallons of silly syrup to spill all over the alleys. Star Vehicle could be considered Nicholson holding back, restrained from achieving desired effect, if you will. Not once does the scale tip towards over-the-top; even during the bloody and degrading showdown. No doubt Cardini is an obsessive fan, we all have our obsessions. But the line is drawn once Nicholson's previous obsession with meta reaches outrageous proportions and dozens of slapstick references and winks towards the genre flurry out of the television set.

My main problem with Star Vehicle is the dead delivery of lines. The characters never exude the wit delivered with Nicholson's carefully crafted quips. The actors besmirch the attitude and suave posture that one would uphold in such a situation. Instead, we're given lines sneaking out from between gritted teeth. Another foul mediation of filmmaking that Nicholson needs to work on is the handling of his actors. Nicholson is a man of a good heart, this I can tell. This also plays a part in his perhaps all too passive role as director. Residential egotistical director Nick Palumbo wasn't afraid to push whores and men past their limits in the arguably excellent Murder-Set-Pieces. Neither was David Cronenberg when he smacked around Susan Petrie in order for her to simply "emote" on the set of Shivers. Quite frankly, if Nicholson ever hoped to blow by this cycling niche he is entrapped in, he must learn to push his actors to desired result instead of just shrugging mediocrity off. Unless of course he doesn't very much care about creating quality over the obligatory quantity. Star Vehicle is what must be an arbitrary detractor from the immediate continuation of the Gutterballs franchise. I bless the concept of originality but condemn the diseased rodent.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A shame Nicholson seems to have lost whatever edge he developed with Gutterballs and Hanger. This was mediocre at best, and Famine was annoying and disconnected mess of a film.

Hopefully, Big Fucking Monster, Gutterballs 2: Balls Deep or his segment of The Profane Exhibit will be better.