Saturday, October 2, 2010

Return schlocky "Chain Letter" to sender

Chain Letter (2010)
98 min., rated R.
Grade: D -

Poor technology terrorists and deformed, hulking maniacs can never seem to catch a break. Even after "Fear dot com," "Pulse," "Stay Alive," and "One Missed Call," all technology-horror dreck, the bloody, senseless, unspeakably worthless schlock "Chain Letter" is the worst of the lot. Jocks, cheerleaders, a smart girl, and a computer geek (who are all reliant on their cell phones and apparently have no parents) collectively receive a chain letter via e-mail or text messages, and if they don't forward it to five other people, they die. Makes sense, right? 

Narratively speaking and from a production standpoint, "Chain Letter" is missing more than a few links of its own. Apparently this has no relation to Christopher Pike's young adult paperback, but it might've been better off, considering this underdeveloped script (with three credited writers) doesn't make a lick of sense and has no resolution. It's an inept mess of Strobe-light flash frames and staticky edits, and the gory torture with chains is so over-the-top it's unconvincing. After an intense opener, there's no suspense: You know exactly when each of these annoying teens are going to die by the unknown Chain Man. 

Director Deon Taylor is obviously going for a movie like "Saw," as the original movie even quickly appears on a TV in one scene and Betsy Russell aka Jigsaw's wife co-stars as a detective. Nikki Reed's talents are gone to waste, even as the smart girl Jessie who's the first to realize what's going on; genre regular Brad Dourif instills fear into his students about modern technology as an oddball red-herring teacher; and Keith David as another detective is squandered. When a funeral scene, complete in the rain, a flute player under an umbrella, and the “Hitchcock dolly zoom” of the mourning friends, earns unintentional giggles, this movie isn't doing its job. Even for a cheesy little horror flick, it holds out on you the whole time without style or an intentional sense of humor. Blurb: Don't forward "Chain Letter" to anyone you like or even hate. 

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