Another week, another edition of "On the Lot." Honestly, I complain a lot about the quality of the singing on "American Idol," but even a Sanjaya performance would be more welcome right now than sitting through another batch of mediocre films. This week, six filmmakers took on horror with guest judge Eli Roth, whose Hostel II recently prompted a debate over whether the horror genre was on the decline.
But first, last week's crop of directors gathered back at the house to wait for Adrianna and Garry to drop by with the news of who would be eliminated. Will said, "Adrianna's a very nice person, but I don't want to see her today," which totally sums up how I feel every time I turn on "On the Lot." Turns out, David's awkward film about sexual escapades got him kicked off the show. He was very zen about it, saying that every director has a bad movie, but it's a shame that his was in front of "millions and millions of people." I think that's a little over-optimistic. Also, we learned that Will's film got the most votes last week. As for this week's entries:
- Kenny made The Malibu Myth, and we learned that the biggest problem on the shoot was Kenny's aggravating personality. Surprise! Anyway, the film was about a couple who seek out a road where young folks are rumored to be brutally murdered, see a dead body, stop the car, touch the dead girl, and end up attacked by flesh-eating villains. It was probably the best of Kenny's films so far, but remember, that's a list that includes Wack Alley Cab. I thought the buildup was creepy enough, but the actual attack was laughable. Eli agreed with me, Carrie said it was Kenny's most accessible film, and Garry said he was scared.
- Sam came next with Anklebiters, a movie that hinged on an ankle-biting puppet. He said he was conscious of the fine line between scary and cheesy, but I really think he came down on the wrong side of this one. The puppet looked like some kind of remote-controlled toy, and the action was exactly the kind of screaming, running around, bloody silliness you'd expect. Carrie said she believed the puppet, Eli said the attack worked well but the prologue gave too much away, and Garry dropped another one of his literary quotes before saying he was scared, again.
- Andrew made Midnight Snack, which he described as horror first, comedy second. The basic plot: A woman — who we later learn is a demon — makes a sandwich. I had a hard time being scared because the main character didn't seem to think there was anything weird about the ghosts and monsters all through her house. Carrie said it was more Rocky Horror than horror, Garry said he's a sucker for comedy, and Eli said the lightning and music were so overdone that it seemed like a "Got Milk" commercial.
- Jason's film was Eternal Waters, about a kid who died by drowning in the family pool and somehow comes back to save his mother from an intruder. I've been far from Jason's biggest fan, but I thought this was his best film — as well as the best film of the night so far. Its happy ending was a little too saccharine for a horror film, but the cool stylistic touches made up for that. Carrie liked it, Garry loved it, and Eli was too distracted by the mom's tight T-shirt to say much at all.
- Shira-Lee, who said numerous times it was her first time doing horror, made Open House, about a house-hunting couple who encounter a ghost in what could be their soon-to-be-born child's room. I appreciated that she attempted a psychological thriller, even though it didn't quite succeed. Carrie said the actors were good but she didn't believe the ghost; Eli said the music was too forced by the ending was nice; Garry said Shira-Lee was better at comedy.
- Mateen closed out the night with Profile, about a black man who imagines(?) himself getting beaten by white cops. OK, I get that racial profiling is horrifying, but does that make this a horror film? Carrie said no, but the performances from the actors were strong; Eli said he disliked all the shifting points of view and wished it would have held together better; Garry said it was brave, though it might not be accessible enough. It also had the Marty Martin hallmark of not exactly adhering to the rules of the competition, but who knows how much that matters at this point.
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If I had to pick a favorite, I suppose it would be Jason's. Honestly, I could see how any of the other directors would be sent home, though if it were up to me I'd ditch either Kenny or Andrew.
Next week: The show's on Monday because of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, and the directors will make films based on the phrase "when two worlds collide." Um, yippee?