Horrorendous: Your Guide to Horrible Horror Cinema
It’s Alive (2008)

Her singing career is a failure.  Her days of bored and pouty playboy modeling are through. The publicity profit she turned from unceremoniously slicing off that guy’s fingertip with a cigar cutter is spent.  But with the Church of Scientology calling for dues, I guess Bijou Phillips is desperate for a paying gig.  Well, at least something dire has motivated her to take roles in such culturally bankrupt productions as Hostel and The Wizard of Gore.  Whatever cruel coercion she’s facing, it must only have gotten worse, because now Phillips is playing the mother of a human-gobbling demon baby in the 2008 re-make of It’s Alive.

Now, if you’re thinking: “Oh SWEET!  There’s a re-make of It’s Alive?!  I was TOTALLY unfulfilled after It’s Alive, It Lives Again, and It’s Alive III: Island of the Alive!” then the total brain atrophy from which you clearly suffer will probably allow you to like this version too.

For those of us who are not so severely impaired, this little cinematic ge(r)m reaches a new rung on the ladder of the god-awful.

After her fetus grows to a freakish “time-to-pop-it-out” size in the beginning of her second trimester, Lenore Harker (played by our dearest Bijou) has to go in for an emergency C-section.  However, as soon as the doctor wrests the baby from the womb-room, something crazy happens.  We aren’t sure what exactly happens, but there are some dubbed shrieks and a split-second montage of apish shocked faces and bloody guts.

Once that’s over, the police waddle in to the O.R. to find major limbs strewn about the room like so many bikinis at a skeevy strip club.  All of the doctors and nurses are dead.  But miraculously, the mother and child appear completely unscathed, albeit drenched in colored corn syrup blood.

Even though she was witness to a bonafide massacre AND despite her refusal to submit to the investigating officer’s tepid request that she answer some basic fucking questions, Lenore, husband Frank, and baby Daniel are allowed to go home.

Not surprisingly, soon after Lenore and Frank take Daniel home, weird shit starts happening.  And it’s not the vague/unattributable brand of weird shit.  No, it’s the “Oh Wow, I Just Caught My 2-Week-Old Progeny Noshing on the Carcass of a Dead Pigeon Jack Rabbit Psychologist” kind of weird shit.

But it’s alright.  Mama Lenore doesn’t seem too alarmed.  In fact, if you see only her reaction, you might just think she spilled some milk… or water…on linoleum.

Indeed, the only person who seems to have any tinge of unease is the live-in, wheelchair-bound, ginger kid nephew… … because, just like every other handicapped fictional character in the history of the earth, his disability has increased his cannibalistic-demon-baby-radar.  Also true to trope, nobody pays attention to him.

Yet eventually, even mommy has to recognize that this baby is more than a little fucked up.  Once baby Daniel eats his way through her best friend’s skull, she seems to get the picture.  In her subsequent break-down— and in screenwriter Larry Cohen’s not-so-keenly-disguised reproof of abortion— we find out that Lenore originally tried (and failed) to kill her fetus using abortion pills she bought off the internet.

Then again, maybe this film isn’t castigating abortion.  Maybe it’s censuring that particular variety of sketchy, unregulated abortion— the rate of which would surely rise if Roe v. Wade were overturned.  It’s hard to say.

Unfortunately, the film’s ambiguity on this point doesn’t offer much in the way of meaningful intellectualism.  But hey, I guess we’re not talking about Freakonomics or intelle-maj-entsia politics; we’re talking about goddamned flesh-scarfing demon babies.

But seriously, the worst thing about this movie is not the lack of intellectual value, nor is it the god-awful CGI.  It’s not the disinterested wooden acting; hell, it’s not even the ridiculously absurd and totally un-scary premise of a people-eating newborn.

No, the worst thing about this movie is that it’s fucking BORING.

It’s not suspenseful enough to be scary.  It’s not hammy enough to be funny.  It’s not anything at all— except utterly flat.

Final Verdict: D-

The Haunting of Molly Hartley (2008)

So the first movie up:  A teen-scream!  — The Haunting of Molly Hartley

After her psychotic/evangelist mother (that chick who plays Judith in Two-and-a-Half Men) stabs her in the chest with a pair of scissors, 17-year old Molly Hartley (Haley Bennett) attempts to restart her life at a new elite prep school in a new town.  She is soon befriended by representatives from the whole gamut of Hollywood high school-types.  First, there’s the saccharine bible thumper (who not only eschews makeup, but also root-dying kits), the totally buff lacrosse hottie (jealous girlfriend in tow), and even an angry troubled girl with a predilection for holey tights and *gasp* eating lunch outside.

But it all goes to shit when we find out that Molly’s mom wasn’t really crazy.  Well, maybe she was… but as soon as Molly turns 18, her soul will become the legit property of the devil.  So by murdering her before her 18th birthday, her mom was really trying to SAVE her.  Duh.

And oh yeah… now that Molly knows this, she only has about an hour before her birthday.  Oops.

[Initiate vaguely suspenseful part of movie.]

All in all, this flick is really just another teen-scream checklist.

Jesus vs. Satan meta-dichotomy: check

Unintelligible ghost whispering: check

Teen girl standing in front of a sheer curtained window wearing only a bra and panties: check

And about those revealing schoolgirl scenes… how is it that all of these Beelzebubbers are so goddamn good-looking?  What if Molly Hartley were an obese girl with a squashed-in face and a harelip?  What if THAT Molly Hartley were running (clomping?) around in a wet schoolgirl uniform?

Apparently, Lucifer only recruits hot chicks.

Or maybe the Mephistophelian power growing inside them keeps them slender like some supernatural tapeworm.  I don’t know.

But what ABOUT this soul-trading?  In the classic films, interaction with the devil is a pretty nasty affair; there are gaunt faces, wild hair, lesions, scaly skin, projectile vomit…  But in this film— as far as I can tell— being “taken” by the devil leads only to a two-comma income, academic excellence, and some lurid lipstick.  So where is this trade-off?

Maybe the Honorary Title soundtrack at the end is supposed to adumbrate some trite emo-pop future.

Hm.  That WOULD be pretty frightening… scarier than anything in this movie, anyway.

Final verdict: C-