Wednesday, 25 March 2015

How to Make A Monster (2001)

Around the turn of the millennium, special effects guru Stan Winston (he worked on a couple of flicks you may have heard of, like Terminator and Aliens) made a trio of "Creature Feature" TV movies.  Presumably because of Winston's involvement, these flicks had much better casts than you might expect - Dan Akroyd was in one of them, for instance.  They also had solid old-school special effects, but that's probably not such a surprise.

This is the second of the three movies, and it is definitely helped by the strength of the on-screen talent.  Everyone who gets a significant speaking role has a solid resume on IMDB.  They help make the film a schlocky, trashy bit of fun for most of its run time.

A software development company has a bust on their hands.  Their scary new game isn't scary at all, and the irate owner throws out the entire development team and replaces them.  The new trio of developers are an eccentric mob to say the least, but they have the skills: a frightening new game is soon close to completion.

Well, a "frightening" new game is, anyway.  Given that 2001 was the year Silent Hill 2 was released, I think the real world video gaming scene was a lot more creepy and intense than anything the movie serves up.  The real genius of the game though, is the AI engine, which we're told will actually learn the players movies and adapt to them.  Gosh I wonder if that will be significant.

During a motion capture process - a so-gratuitous-you-almost-have-to-admire-its-audacity topless scene from skin flick veteran Julie Strain - a lightning bolt fries the systems at the company.  Someone is going to have to stay all night to reload the back-ups.  They play the game to see who has to do it, and the loser settles in for a long night.

Now, you may want to sit down for this innovative and surprising plot development, but the power surge from the lightning strike, together with the still-running AI software of the game, combine to transform the motion capture suit into a killer robot.

I know, who would have expected that?

The remaining two developers, an intern, and their boss, all end up trapped in the building the next day when the robot goes on a rampage.  Will they survive?  Well, by this point you'll probably already have worked out who is in with a shot at survival, to be honest.

Like I said above, this film is a schlocky, trashy bit of fun for most of its run time.  The key word there, though, is "most".  For my money, the ending goes badly off track, ending the flick with a very mean-spirited and sour note that spoiled the experience for me.  And on that basis, I can't recommend it.

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