DIFF ’10 Review: Removal
Indie horror starring Kelly Brooks. Usually, that would’ve been enough to sell us.
Being a major horror movie lover, I scoured the entire Dubai International Film Festival catalog to sniff out horror movies and luckily found a couple. The first that caught my eyes was ‘Removal’, an indie thriller about a cleaning guy who begins to experience gory hallucinations on the job. Sounds pretty interesting and stars Kelly Brook, the latter of which makes it irresistible.
So I got into MOE for the screening of the movie which surprisingly had director Nick Simon talking about the film. That’s all cool until he invited Kelly Brook and Emma Caulfield onto the front, which made it something else entirely. It was shortly that we were all seated to watch the small indie that only few people had seen earlier (at AFI a month back).
Read my review of it below.
Some of the best horror movies I’ve ever seen are rare and small indie movies. But that doesn’t mean that every small indie movie I’ve ever seen is a good horror movie. ‘Removal’, an indepedent horror/thriller by Nick Simon, sounds intriguing on paper but liberally rips off much better horror films and aside from a few interesting elements, ends up as an utterly mediocre horror effort.
The story follows Cole Hindin, a drug-addicted and overworked cleaner who also witness a terrible murder-suicide a year ago and is still reeling in from the trauma. When he is tasked to cleaning an entire mansion over the course of a night, what begins as a normal cleaning shift turns into something mysterious as Hindin begins to have bizarre and gory hallucinations at the job. As he begins to dig deeper, he begins to uncover secrets about both the home owners and himself that are best left unearthed.
The first thing that compelled me to see the movie was the plotline itself which is definitely attractive. A drug-addicted cleaner experiencing hallucinations at a job? That’s trippy territory right there. But the plot sounded somewhat similar to a great horror movie (that’s still little-seen) but I let that pass by. While watching the movie though, it became pretty clear – it’s heavily lifted from Brad Anderson’s creepy thriller ‘Session 9′. There’s the whole cleaning team in a big open place aspect, the main character having marital issues (which holds a secret of its own), hallucinations and a number of other elements. And that’s not the only film – pretty much every idea in the film has been taken from better films like ‘Fight Club’, ‘The Sixth Sense’ and others. Hence, there’s not one moment in the movie that you will watch and go ‘that’s original’. It’s just a collection of familiar elements in one jumbled movie.
The movie starts off promisingly as a character Eric is fired from his job and goes home depressed. When Cole enters his house for a meet, he finds Eric in the bathroom naked and a gun pointed to his head. He’s murdered his wife and then shoots himself. That’s a pretty strong opening. But from that point on, it shows Cole being affected by the trauma in cliched scenes. In a movie like this, there should be a lot of foreboding to keep the audience waiting for the real action but instead ‘Removal’ takes quite some time to get into the mix of things and the wait is plodding and boring. And when it does, it’s nothing substantial. All Cole sees are some minor movements in the mansion and small hallucinations. None of this is particularly interesting and anybody who has watched a single thriller knows where the plot is going from here. Predictability in a psychological thriller spells death for it.
The ending resolution is once again unoriginal and takes that ‘sort’ of ending and mishandles it poorly. It’s a jumbled mess as we’re treated to a series of flashbacks that resolve things but in a very unsatisfying manner. If the movie would’ve somehow ended there, I’d still accept it. But it lingers on and further complicates the story needlessly and ends on an anti-climactic scene. I may be going too harsh on the film, but the fact is that even unoriginal ideas put together can make a decent enough horror movie.
There are some high points here and there, mainly the acting of Mark Kelly is suited for a jaded cleaner. His performance throws us off a little bit and he does a great job with it. Same goes for Billy Burke who is pretty good in a mysterious and limited role. There’s a twist after the main twist is revealed which is admittedly well-done and something I didn’t expect for once. But Kelly Brooks and Emma are wasted in their roles. Especially Brooks, who’s role is so limited that you could literally remove her from the film and it wouldn’t change one thing.
‘Removal’ may be a small-budget indie and I always appreciate smaller movies that defy the Hollywood system, but it’s plodding and unoriginal with a jumbled storyline. Horror fans are likely to be disappointed despite a few interesting moments, and it serves as an example why originality can greatly help a movie riding on indie cred. For now, it’s just a generic horror effort that’s likely to go unnoticed.
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