Every once in a while circumstances, or technology, or my own confounded nature will conspire to make the day almost over before I get to see a film. This of course greatly limits the time I have to write about the film before I pass out from exhaustion. On these occasions, I must resort to watching the film and writing about it at the same time. I call this the run-and-gun, for no other reason than I think it sounds cool. Anyway, today is one of those days.
Are they or aren’t they?
Cliff and Cydney are newlyweds on honeymoon in Hawaii. After hearing reports of a serial killer couple on the loose in the islands, they run into two other couples – Kale and Cleo, and Nick and Gina – while hiking a remote trail. As they all get to know each other, suspicions rise. Some quality hand damage ensues.
00:01:00 They all went to film school, and they appear to be douchebags. Coincidence?
00:02:25 Behold, the camcorder backstory. I really hope this isn’t another found footage flick
00:03:34 THOR! And a real camera. Thankfully.
00:05:17 “Only two ways out: by foot or by kayak”. Hmm, do you think that’s going to become relevant later?
00:06:12 A newly-married woman offers to give her husband a blowy. Obviously this is not a documentary.
00:08:50 “Nothing bad ever happens in Hawaii.” Oh, for the love of… For a guy who went to film school, he’s an idiot.
00:12:00 This scenery really is gorgeous though (and I’m not just talking about Milla Jovovich). If the locals promise not to horribly murder me, I would love to go there.
0015:16 Ooh, a conversation about writing a screenplay. It’s all getting very meta. Timothy Olyphant is talking about three-act structures and red herrings. Either he’s the killer or it’s going to be a painful double bluff. Painful for me, that is.
00:20:35 SKINNY DIPPING! No matter what happens after this, I am not going to mind.
00:30:40 Time for the “when I was in ‘Nam” speech, except it was Iraq. They are really setting up both of these couples as possible psycho killers. Time for a bet: they’re working together and this is all a set-up.
00:37:20 I am becoming convinced that this movie was only an exercise to try and fit as many horror clichés into one script as humanly possible.
00:41:24 “That would make one hell of an act 2 twist” says Olyphant, right in time for the act 2 twist.
00:43:00 Still waiting for the act 2 twist. Damn you, Olyphant!
00:47:30 Well that story just took a turn for the fucked up. Thanks Milla.
00:50:04 Cliff is actually an ass. If he gets slaughtered in the next 40 minutes, I probably won’t mind too much.
00:55:20 Okay, my first bet appears to be a bust.
01:01:00 So this would be the act 2 twist. If it’s what it seems to be, then it’s not a bad one. I’m not convinced it fits the internal logic though.
01:06:35 Damn, that was quite well done.
01:13:17 That bullet is taking a long time to travel six feet…
01:22:36 This just went right through ridiculous into freaking awesome. Possibly the most bonkers 3rd act I have seen in this kind of movie for quite a while.
01:30:50 So much for true love.
It’s now twenty minutes later. I have been rewatching the flick in my head to try and trip up that twist but it’s not happening. This film was getting more and more interesting as it went on. I started to sense that those particular characters were not as reliable as they had been presented, but I had just about rejected that theory when the rug (or the kayak) was pulled right out from under me. Nicely done, David Twohy. So this is what you’ve been up to between Riddick movies; making a neat little terror-in-paradise flick that you filled to the brim with all manner of tip-offs and in-jokes (including one pre-emptive in-joke) even while you screwed around with those tip-offs and in-jokes just to show that you could.
With another cast this could definitely not have worked as well as it did. Steve Zahn and Milla are a laugh as Cydney and Cliff, but Timothy Olyphant just grabs every scrap of scenery he can find and takes a nice big bite out of it. The rest of the six are made up of the (then-) less known faces Kiele Sanchez (returning to Hawaii after a stint on LOST) as Gina, and The Mighty Chris Hemsworth and Marley Shelton as Kale and Cleo. This is a film where you won’t even realise quite how much fun it is until it’s almost over. There is no grand statement in this flick. No deeper meaning. It is all about having a good time, and it succeeds. I like it.
And unlike the trailers, I didn’t spoil the surprise for you!