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(Review originally written at 11 December 2008)

This movie really doesn't know to handle its tension well. The story had a promising premise but in the end all the movie ever is, is build up but without ever a pay off. It's like foreplay without sex. The ending is also disappointing and makes you think 'this is it?'. So only foreplay, no sex and no orgasm either...that's just cruel.

The movie is based on a novel by popular horror writer Dean Koontz. Let's say he's a Stephen King kind of writer, only he is lesser known. He himself also wrote the screenplay for this movie but just as is the case with most of the movies based on Stephen King novels, it (and then mostly its horror) doesn't translate very well to the big screen. I have yet to see a good movie based on a Koontz movie.

Like I mentioned before, all this movie does is building up its tension and mystery but very rarely does it ever have a 'shock moment' in it. The movie pays far too much attention to its build up and forgets all about its pay off. This is most especially notable in its weak and also quite sudden ending. This movie really doesn't leave a satisfying enough feeling, especially when considering that the concept actually did show some nice potential.

It also feels as if the movie is incomplete. At times it to me seemed entire sequences got cut out. Often you see characters doing things, which make you wonder; 'Now what are they doing exactly?'. Or, 'why is going there and why does he need that thing?'. It just doesn't always flow too well. The movie also doesn't feel like it does because of the reason that the first- and second halve of the movie are quite different from each other. The first halve is a mystery/thriller/horror, with the Ben Affleck and Rose McGowan character, among others, walking around in the ghost town, trying to figure out a way to survive and what is happening around them. The second halve of the movie is about the Peter O'Toole character really and the science starts to kick in. From this point on the movie also tends to become even more formulaic and also less interesting than its first halve. Because of this all the movie is also lacking a good main character. Basically in the first minutes of the movie the two sisters played by Rose McGowan and Joanna Going are the main characters. Then when Ben Affleck pops up he becomes the main character but even before the halve way point he gets relieved again by Peter O'Toole.

The movie features Ben Affleck and Rose McGowan before their days of fame. Affleck even hadn't done "Armegeddon" yet at the time of this movie. He's pretty miscast though in this movie. I'm no Affleck hater but he was just too young at the time to convincingly play a police sheriff. The actor that seemed in place though was Liev Schreiber and I'm not sure but I also think that the movie makers felt this and they extended his role in the movie. 4 years later Affleck and Schreiber would team up again in the movie "The Sum of All Fears". Both were already established actors at that time. It's of course always nice to see Peter O'Toole in a movie. It's quite funny but ever since his role in "Lawrence of Arabia" he hasn't starred in anything halve-classic really but yet he is still respected so much. He of course also is a great actor, which also can be seen from the fact that ever since his "Lawrence of Arabia" role he has received 7 more Oscar nominations, to this date, though he has never won one yet, except for an Honorary Award, he received in 2003.

For 1998 standards the special effects are simply good within this movie. Even better are its make-up effects but is it all enough and good enough to please the horror fans? I really don't think so!

Simply too much lacking as an horror/thriller flick.

5/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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