Yet another reason to avoid ancient Indian burial grounds.
Danielle (Cerina Vincent), a young woman wracked with guilt, takes a job as a forest (power) ranger deep in the mountains. Unfortunately, there is something really mean out there which takes a strong dislike to her….
(PerfesserDeviant handles spoilers, while Vomitron tries to avoid them…)
Vomitron: For some reason while watching IT WAITS it occurred to me that this movie looks and feels a bit like some sort of 90 minutes long stand alone episode of THE X-FILES (but only without Scully and Mulder running around in it). So that already hints that IT WAITS isn’t that bad at all. But as far as ‘look & feel’ goes, that’s where the comparison ends. While on the surface IT WAITS looks like your standard run-of-the-mill creature-in-the-woods feature, it does have a little more to offer. The drama-aspects, predominant in the first half of the movie and coming back with a final twitch in the end, were something you wouldn’t exactly expect in the first place from a movie like this and they were even well-developed too. So what am I talking about exactly? I’ll keep it vague, so no spoilers. Cerina Vincent (looking as good as ever) plays a troubled young ranger, Danielle, coming to terms with her personal demons from the past regarding a traumatic experience and her on-going issues with her boyfriend Justin (played by Dominic Zamprogna, who has a pleasant on-screen charisma). Her location of choice to do all that (and get wasted on alcohol during the process too) is a remote forest outpost. Like I said, the dramatic subplot is interesting, told in a decent fashion and very well portrayed by Miss Vincent. I could only appreciate it, even though I think they over-used the inappropriate tragic/romantic rock songs on the soundtrack. On the other hand, I am aware that many viewers might think the drama is just a clichéd set-up to make you care about the character. Either way, I appreciated the film-maker’s effort.
PerfesserDeviant: Danielle is the classic damaged girl that is so popular among horror movie writers (also, coincidentally, among writers of “women’s movies”). She is filled with guilt and self-loathing because she misses her best friend who died not long before in a terrible accident. Now she allowed everyone to believe that her friend caused the accident when, in fact, she was the one driving. Since neither was wearing her seatbelt, it is amazing that Danielle and her parrot survived in the first place, but to feel endless guilt about causing the death of your friend when you were both drunk seems a bit extreme. Really, if you were put in a situation where you made a mistake and killed someone and they took the blame for it, would it make you feel any better to report it to the police? Honestly, what good would that do? This sort of self-torment is the bread and butter of women’s television dramas, but is not particularly welcome in a horror film about a monster chasing a big-titted park ranger around.
For such a self-sufficient, though admittedly whiny, woman, Danielle manages to fit in plenty of final girl clichés. She finds herself isolated with a monster after her and always runs up the stairs when faced with danger. She is basically a ‘good girl’ who did something wrong in the past, but is so pure of heart that she is willing to destroy her life to make up for the error. She allows her boyfriend Justin (Dominic Zamprogna) to wander off to find help after the creature cut them off by destroying their communication systems and vehicle, not a good idea in general as splitting up is an guaranteed way of dying horribly if you are not top-billed. Danielle even falls down while being chased in the dark! We, however, know that she is invincible because beneath her ranger uniform she is wearing a white tank top. She manages to defeat the creature with the usual ease after everyone else is dead, which empowers final girls more than burning their bras. Braless final girls are fun when they run.
Vomitron: What about the creature? You very soon learn that it’s some demon from a Native American legend. But only later in the movie you learn a bit more about its history and characteristics. The sequence where you learn all that information really felt a bit easy and out-of-place. But I agree that it was necessary to flesh out the character of the creature. The demon-beast itself is a nice creation by Tony Gardner (check out his resumé and you’ll find out that the guy always does a good job). It might remind you of The Creeper from JEEPERS CREEPERS mixed with a little bit of PUMPKINHEAD and a face ten times more vicious than any possible demon from the BUFFY series. But it still looks pretty unique. Some of the CGI shots of the creature where a bit less convincing. The kills in this movie are pretty good and gory, and the fun stuff includes that some of the corpses tend to pop up here and there, because our demonoid creature is just a bit more cunning and devious than your average beast.
PerfesserDeviant: The monster itself is supposed to represent the anger and bitterness of humanity given form and unleashed upon itself. The major problem with this idea is that it is a good one, but it is squandered in this film. A creature that exists to cause as much pain as possible to a person who feels they deserve it makes a sort of sense, though usually such a creature would wear leather. Regardless, the creature seems ‘inspired’ by the creature in Jeepers Creepers especially during the sequence when it shows its wings for the first time. It is a creepy-looking beast and the costume is good enough that I would have liked to spend a little more time with it, but the director seems to have thought that less is more as far as the creature goes. I did wonder though, why, if the creature had been released some months before, did it wait so long before going after other people? It did seem suitably malicious to attack others just for the hell of it, so this hiatus does not make much sense.
As with most horror films, we need a few supporting victims. Danielle’s boyfriend and fellow ranger Justin is the first after the credits. He has the male horror movie gene which requires that he goes out into danger with no chance of survival because his testosterone is bubbling. He does manage to reappear later to upset Danielle since he is a lot more corpsy than he was when she last saw him, especially since she slept with him at that point and we all know that no Power Ranger would ever be a necrophile. Danielle’s boss Rick (Greg Kean) is one of those guys who means well but never believes the hysterical final girl. He is the equivalent of the cop that shows up at the last minute and gets stabbed while asking “What’s all this then?”. Finally, we have magical Indian Joseph Riverwind (Eric Schweig) who shows up to give us some exposition and wisdom. He has one big scene and then becomes a road decoration. I suppose that means that he is not too wise. Note to knowledgeable minorities: never tell the busty girl about the monster or you will become useless to the script and will die as soon as is convenient. Let this be a warning.
Vomitron: Another nice touch about IT WAITS is that it’s not about a bunch of people (whether it be teenagers or military folks or whatever) fighting some creature in the woods. From the second half of the movie onward, it’s Danielle who has to battle it out on her own with the creature. It’s Woman vs. Beast here, where the beast could easily be a metaphor for her own dark demons she has got to come to terms with before the movie’s closure. And then there’s also a nice little supporting role for… a parrot! Now if you want to know how all that works out, you’ll just have to watch the movie.
PerfesserDeviant: The final character that must be discussed is Hoppy the parrot. Hoppy is a nice change of pace for a pet in a horror film because he speaks (he is voiced by Michael Bell) and serves several purposes in the film. Hoppy serves as a warning system for Danielle since he can sense when the monster is nearby and he is not too shy to be vocal about it. Hoppy is a link to Danielle’s dead friend since he keeps repeating things that she taught him. Finally Hoppy is a friend for Danielle that she can tell anything to, someone who will not judge her for what she has done. It is unclear how good a friend Danielle is to Hoppy though, as it seems pretty cold in the ranger station and a tropical bird probably would not like that much. Maybe that is why Hoppy spends so much time reminding Danielle of her dead friend, to torment her for not having some heat around….
Vomitron: I liked IT WAITS more than I expected, but I’ll try to temper my enthusiasm in my final rating. Because it still remains just an above average creature feature with a few extra merits going for it (the nice cinematography and the beautiful, mist-laden Canadian forests as scenery being two I haven’t even mentioned yet).
PerfesserDeviant: Considering that the film feels like a retread of dozens of other monster-menaces-maiden films, it is not too bad. Cerina Vincent is fun to watch run around the woods in a tizzy, but without adequate supporting undergarments. Combine tits with angst and a comical talking parrot and you have a really special film, very special indeed.