c. David Grim (taken 10/16/10)
Well, now that it's the holiday, I have some time off. It's strange how quickly I get back into my routine of obligations, so that when I get a block of free time again I'm at a bit of a loss as to how to spend it. I've already done my rather extensive research on what is happening around town during this break, and I'm sad to say that the schedule is rather thin. Obviously I'd love it if there was a lot more happening on the arts scene, but traditionally these holidays see a marked slowdown. No doubt I'll find myself at home on my couch watching some movies. After all I still have a significant backlog of DVD's to watch.
Yesterday on my way home from work I stopped at a friend's house, and found myself sticking around for some entertainment via "On Demand". I'm not sure why I thought it was a good idea to put "Strangeland" on, but I ended up seeing it through its full running length. And it was as bizarre as advertised. I remember years ago hearing about a horror film with Dee Snider from Twisted Sister, and wondering how it could be anything other than a cheesy mess. But the fact is that this movie ended up being genuinely disturbing.
It starts out with an extremely outdated screen shot of a chat room on a computer desktop. Two teenage girls are about to get lured into a devious and horrifying trap. I was amused to watch one young woman's astonishment upon encountering 'Instant Messaging' for the very first time. But there were probably quite a few viewers who were unfamiliar with the technology in 1998, when "Strangeland" was released. In fact this video nasty has a lot of surprises embedded in its ugliness. Snider plays an acolyte of "modern primitivism", and doles out quite a bit of ham-handed philosophy to accompany his sadistic torture of his captive teenagers.
If you have any taste at all for forward-thinking horror leavened with dark heavy metal music and lots of piercings, you might want to give this thing a watch, if only for the experience of seeing something altogether different from the ordinary popcorn-and-blood flicks that the mainstream is usually given to feast upon. I have no idea who the filmmakers thought would be the proper demographic for this thing, and I really wouldn't want to hang out with anyone who would want to watch this on a regular basis. But at the same time, from a sociological perspective I think this can be informative. If nothing else it can serve as a great cautionary tale about internet chat rooms and the predators that stalk them.
Sure, it was an odd way to start my vacation from work. Still I'm glad I got this viewing out of the way, and I don't have to wonder why some reviewers recommend "Strangeland". There are some truly fucked up people out there, addicted to cruelty and sadism. I'm not certain whether or not the people responsible for this movie fall into that category or not, but I'd be wary of anyone who would cite title this among their favorites.