Gwar is dead! Long live Lordi! Though, you really have to wonder if there’s enough room in the world for more than one metal band wearing monster makeup and elaborate costumes. But I’ve seen Gwar a couple of times and I think the time has come for them to move aside. The first time I saw Gwar, the Ragnarok tour, it was fucking awesome. I came away looking like I’d been witness to a bloodbath, and in a sense, I had. The second time I saw them, they recycled the plot of the Live From Antarctica tour and it wasn’t so good. Too many people in the club, a mad rush to the stage to get hosed down with fake piss. People got hurt. Since then, I haven’t been too sweet on the band. I’m just a little tired of their routine. Lordi, on the other hand, they’re a different story.
I don’t know if the band has broken out here in states yet. I know that their album, The Arockalypse, got a North American release but I have no idea how well they were received. I guess in their home of Finland, they’re a bit of a sensation and won the Eurovision song contest in 2006, which is a sort of World Series of Pop Music held annually. The band isn’t quite as Tromaville as Gwar and their act isn’t really about offending people’s sensibilities. They’re the perfect horror movie rock band and even bring to mind the horror aesthetic of the late 80’s when the revived career of Alice Cooper, Megadeth and Dokken found their way onto soundtracks for Friday the 13th Part 6, Shocker and A Nightmare on Elm Street 3, respectively. Check out the video for Blood Red Sandman after the break. In the meantime, the band made a movie. I was pretty excited. Too bad it doesn’t make much sense.
Ben and his autistic daughter, Sarah, are at the hospital undergoing a series of tests. A mechanical problem nearly destroys the MRI machine that Sarah occupies and that, along with a handful of other concerns is enough for Ben to take Sarah away from the hospital, vowing to the doctors that he’ll find the help she needs elsewhere. However, on his way out, on the elevator, he, Sarah and a cast of survival horror stereotypes, find themselves trapped in a hospital where time seems to be standing still and an elaborately dressed heavy metal band stalks the halls. A lot of running and screaming ensues and at times, it is suggested that Sarah has something to do with all of this.
It’s really too bad about Dark Floors. Every now and then, the movie flirts with brilliance. Portions of the premise are so cool, for instance, the time standing still angle, but this shit makes absolutely no sense, whatsoever. There are long stretches of running time dedicated to the cast running around, confused and frightened while nothing terribly important happens. Occasionally, a member of Lordi shows up and everyone runs from them while the token armed security guard cracks off shot after shot to no avail. This happens for nearly every member of the band. Occasionally, the crazy, babbling homeless guy in the group shows some kind of hidden knowledge of these monsters but never is any explanation given. As a matter of fact, he miraculously returns from the grave to save the day toward the end of the second act before falling dead again only to have the nurse declare that he appears to have been dead for a week… but… that’s impossible!
From what I can tell, director Pete Riski made the move for this feature from music videos and advertisements and the movie is packed with every typical offense from a director making that conversion. It’s full of flash and bang, has fantastic production design, a lot of quick cuts, etcetera. I can’t fault the guy for it, either. When all of your experience has been in a medium that stresses the need to cram as much as you possibly can into four minutes of video or less, you have a tendency to hold on to those values even after you find yourself with 90 minutes or more to deal with. Few of these guys ever shake those chains off and it usually takes a couple of features to get into the groove but it can happen. Look at David Fincher! But directorial shortcomings aside, this movie ultimately fails in its plotting. Sure, you don’t necessarily need to explain every detail but when you’re making a high concept piece of bullshit like Dark Floors, you had better take a few minutes to explain yourself because this movie takes a crazy-ass turn in the third act when Sarah’s true nature is exposed only to have a final twist happen that brings to mind the final minutes of the St. Elsewhere series finale. It’s a pretty shitty way to end a movie.
On the upside, the movie has a great look and features some great special effects. It’s a little spare in the gore department but that which it does feature is decent. The monster make up, designed in part by Mr. Lordi, singer of the band, is top shelf and the band, whose costumes look a little rubbery, ordinarily, get a nice and slimy update. This isn’t worth a whole lot, though. Easily the best part of the movie is the new Lordi song over the end credits and that’s not saying much.
I’m not even sure Lordi fans are going to buy Dark Floors. There’s not much going on, the plot is a mess and there’s nothing to indicate that it ever made any sense. The monster concepts are interesting and a couple of scenes involving the security cameras and the intercoms helped things out enormously but the story abandons the good stuff early on in order to put the extremely familiar cast in peril.
Dark Floors is a planned release in the upcoming Ghost House Underground line for October 14th but for those international readers or readers with all-region DVD players, you can order it now from many European sources. This one, in particular, is from Nordisk Film.