Film Review: Straight-to-Video bin, anyone?

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Why do I torture myself? In the usual circumstance that I go to the movies, I just want to see whatever is new and/or something that looks magnificent to see if it lives up to all the hype and promotion behind it. However, I have an affinity for terrible cinema and I don’t know why either; something about bad cinema (especially when the filmmakers are earnestly trying to make a good film) just entertains me and keeps me coming back to trashy or insane movies like this. So yeah… I will start out by saying that this movie is no good at all but then again, you’ve probably figured that out from the trailers, poster, name, etc.

The film takes place in New Orleans and involves a fairly rich couple, John (Morris Chestnut) and Laura (Regina Hall), who have tried several times to have a baby but to no avail. They do find a very suitable surrogate mother though in Anna Walsh (newcomer Jaz Sinclair), a 21-year old who they both find to be a very respectful and beautiful young lady who acts blessed just to be able to give life and let someone else enjoy what she’s done. Of course, that’s all a ruse as we soon learn that Anna and her fiance, Mike (Theo Rossi) have other plans and those include to scam the couple and take their baby away from them to sell it and make a killing.

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Here’s the thing: the acting in this movie is NOT bad. Morris Chestnut and Regina Hall make a perfectly believable couple. They don’t have tons of chemistry together or anything but they are fine and they act well opposite each other. Neither of them goes over-the-top or anything and they do what they can with the shitty script they’ve been sacked with throughout. Jaz Sinclair is another performer here that does what she can with the material; I’d like to see her in a film with better writing because she completely embraces the absurdity of the plot and she radiates on-screen with sex appeal. She lacks a bit of presence but that’s a minor quibble. Romany Malco (aka that black dude from The 40 Year Old Virgin) is utterly wasted and barely even has lines while Theo Rossi is suitably intimidating as Mike.

The plot is befuddling to me. At first, we are introduced to this nice young woman played competently by Jaz Sinclair and she does such a good job at seeming normal that had you not seen the trailer or read any of the plot, you would not think that she would turn out to be a villain. In fact, Mike seems like the dangerous one and the audience starts to think that maybe he will turn out to be the true antagonist of the film. However, a late-in-the-game action by Sinclair is totally outside the character that we’ve been building up and completely surprised me… and not in a good way. Surprises and plot twists work in movies but not when they’re totally outside the realm of believability. When Sinclair committs this incredibly violent act, you never think “Oh man, she’s capable of anything.” You think more like, “Wait… I thought she was passive. In fact, if she was this kind of person the whole time, shouldn’t we have known that as soon as she was away from our main characters?” Sinclair is beaten and threatened but does nothing until much later in the film. Some top-notch writing in this one, folks.

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The writing is just atrocious. Every single cliche you expect to happen in this film WILL happen. It is completely predictable. However, there is one thing that always happens in these Fatal Attraction-like films that DOESN’T happen in this one and instead of it not feeling like a cliche, it feels like something missing to drive the plot forward and raise the stakes. Every character is either good or evil. There are no in-betweens which is what you usually get in these films. That hurt the overall quality a great deal. Also, this film follows that terrible movie rule where every character knows where every other character is at any given point as long as it is convenient to the plot. Some moments like Mike suddenly appearing in the kitchen and Anna later witnessing a convalescence made me roll my eyes so hard I think I gave myself a headache. A lot of characters make really stupid mistakes too; they’re not just the mistakes you typically see in a crappy horror movie but ones that could’ve been easily avoided. And just think – if they hadn’t made those stupid mistakes we wouldn’t have had to watch this crappy movie.

* ½

 

Rating System:

* (Brutal; the worst rating)

** (Some elements keep it from being awful but still not very good)

*** (Completely watchable; a rental as old-timers might say)

**** (Great film with a few things here and there keeping it from being perfect)

***** (Flawless; a true achievement)