Redbox Roulette Aug 11 2008 @ 01:00 pm
A quick recap: REDBOX ROULETTE is a continuing series of articles where we rent $1 DVDs from those ubiquitous red boxes located at Walmart, McDonalds, and wherever fine cuisine is served. The only stipulation is that the film we choose must be one we have never, ever, EVER heard of.
But there’s a twist this week: instead of picking the film out myself, my lovely wife Kristena made the selection. Not only does she run her own craft-tacular website called Thimbly Things, which is cuteness incarnate, she also is quite the witty writer (I know, I’m biased, so sue me). We sparred back and forth over email on the film, and our interaction forms the article this week. My words in black, hers in red.
So your favorite genre in the whole wide world is horror films. Oh, wait, it isn’t. Which is why I thought it odd that you brought back The Tattooist, an obvious horror film, when you could have picked out anything your little heart felt like seeing.
This is what happens when you’ve been up since 7 am with babies and then decide to go to the grocery store at 10:30 in the pm. By the time I was at the Redbox, it was nearly midnight, I had a cart full of food, and I had no idea what I was doing.
Okay. Do I slide my card first? Am I supposed to press a button on the box? Oh, it’s a touchscreen. Alright. Not exactly like a Coke machine. Got it.
It was all downhill from there.
So on to the movie itself. But you weren’t really paying attention to the first half, were you? Sure you were there, at least physically, but you were quite wrapped up in your own little project. And horror movies, if nothing else, are based on mood. We had to keep rewinding the DVD because you kept missing the shadowy figure that flitted through the mirror, and that kind of ruins said mood. Not that there was much mood to ruin or anything, but it’s the principle of the matter.
I was totally there. I just happened to also be cutting out pictures from Emily’s (our 22-month old daughter) decimated Maisy book. It has the cutest little refrigerator full of food in it…
Anyway, we only rewound like 3 times. It wasn’t that bad. I understood more of what was happening than you did, if I remember correctly. Remember when I explained to you that the main dude was part of some sort of traveling tattoo thingy and not just a stalker?
Or maybe he was a stalker… Huh. The more I think about it…
True, true, you did grasp some of the finer plot points better than I. Therefore, I think you should synopsize the film for all our good readers out there. I know, difficult, just pretend they’re all waiting with baited breath for your description of the cinematic masterpiece otherwise known as The Tatooist.
So there’s this guy named Jake who tattoos people. And then they die.
Yup, details are so overrated. That pretty much sums it up.
I will say that after dragging itself through a textbook example of how not to engage audiences for the first 2/3, the final act of the movie became surprisingly compelling. It evolved into a mystery/thriller/whodunit that would have made a perfectly acceptable episode of Cold Case, although that’s kind of a backhanded compliment. It’s odd how the first two acts give no indication that the film is going to spontaneously become interesting at the 50 minute mark. Movies usually start out with a bang and then fizzle by the end. This one decided to go the other route. It might actually be brilliant in a postmodern sense.
Unfortunately, it’s marketed as a “horror/thriller,” and there’s nothing particularly scary about it. And believe me, I know scary when I run from it and try not to see it. It had so many missed opportunities where folks were more or less literally bursting at the seams with ink. If that sounds ludicrous, well, it totally is.
So the suspense at the end was engaging, but all the creepy stuff leading up to it left a new “are you serious?” wrinkle in my brow. I venture to say that finding a bad tattoo blog would be more interesting.
And look! I found you one!
So the scares don’t quite fall on the memorable side of the fence. And the writer needed to read Robert McKee’s “Story” about 30 more times. And the main actor (Jason Behr) probably isn’t going to be breaking out any time soon. In the films defense, the supporting cast was quite good and managed to save the ship from completely sinking, even as Behr kept poking holes in the hull. And you can’t deny that the cultural history of Samoan tattoo technique that the film managed to delve into wasn’t at least a teensy bit fascinating, right?
Yep. The Samoan men “hand down” their tattoos to their sons as a sort of heirloom, and the process is superly-duperly important to becoming a man and bringing honor to your family. This tidbit was indeed interesting. And I think that was probably the inspiration for the entire film. In the Writers’ Room, Guy #1 says, “So I was reading the latest issue of Tattoo Magazine, and you won’t believe the cool [insert expletive or two] I saw!” Later in the same meeting, Guy #6 says, “Okay, so we’ve decided the main guy needs to pretend to have special healing powers. Because that’s irony, and we definitely want some irony.” Oh, yeah, did I mention that? Jake’s a lying snake in the beginning of the movie (rhyme intended). We’re talking deep layers here.
And let’s not forget the scene of pure unintentional hilarity that was meant to pull at our heart strings. Jake has tattooed his lover, who is now doomed because his tattoos are all, like, evil and stuff. He tells her that she has hours to live, and she slaps him and says, “I trusted you!”, the implication being “I trusted you not to give me a demon tattoo which will slowly kill me in an orgy of blood and ink!” Man, if only they would have established that up front like all healthy couples do! Take us, for example. Remember when we said our vows to one another, and I finished mine by saying, “And I promise not give you demon tattoos because I know that’s something you’re worried about.”? Whew! That sure was a load off both of our minds!
Note: There was quite a delay before Kristena got back to me again.
Sorry- would have gotten back to you sooner had I not just walked in on our toddler finger-painting with poopy.
That is by far my favorite moment in the entire movie. It had me near tears in my glee.
One other thing that deserves mentioning is that the majority of the story is set in New Zealand. So, of course, all I could think about was Flight of the Conchords. Is it true that Bret’s mom only got 4 channels on her tellie back in New Zealand? And do New Zealanders really despise Australia? Will there be a second season of their HBO show?
But I digress. Yeah, I’m so glad I can trust you not to infect me with demon ink. I have enough stuff to take care of and honestly don’t have time to fight vengeful tattoo spirits. Like poopy smeared on baby board books and crib sheets.
Which is infinitely more terrifying than demon tattoos could ever be. Rogue bits of poopy haunt my dreams. Vindictive tattoo spirits have nothing on our daughter.
This was a definite misfire for me, despite some of the film’s better elements. The only bright spot is that since they didn’t manage to land a bigger name in the title role (Paul Walker/Keanu Reeves/Dane Cook would have been ‘perfect’ choices) we weren’t subjected to this on a national scale.
And if you’re done cleaning feces off the wall, I’ll let you have the final word, honey.
Thanks, Dear. So here are the 5 things we learned today:
1) Take your time at the Redbox… at least enough time to know what genre film you just rented.
2) Go ahead! Work on another project while watching your random flick. Just fill in the blanks with your own finer plot points, and don’t worry about why that crazy old dude murdered some young kid instead of tattooing him and no one found the teen’s stinky body in the back shed for 15 years or whatever.
3) Invest in a video monitor for your toddler’s bedroom immediately.
4) Ladies: Never begin a relationship with a guy who could tattoo a demon spirit onto you that will later try to kill you. He needs to at least be up front with you about these matters.
5) Finally, instead of seeing The Tattooist, go watch LA Ink or, better yet, learn how tattoo yourself by embroidering your clothes. That’s what I would do, anyway.