“Have you seen Things?” A question that started the gears in motion that (maybe unsurprisingly) ended with me watching Things. Board game night at Wolfman‘s fell through, so he asked me the question. I hadn’t. Neither had he. But he did just buy a copy and he was free, so we put on our footie PJs and boiled some popcorn and settled in for a night of bonkers, illogical, downright inept storytelling. And it was a blast. And before you roll your eyes and assume that I’m going to go on about those movies that are hailed as “so bad it’s good” and lump Things into that category, let me assure you that I’m not. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not really that into that particular brand of film appreciation. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s get into Things, shall we?
Fred and Don take an apparently weeks long trip to Fred’s brother, Doug’s, cabin (or remotely situated house maybe?). I say ‘apparently’ because this fact is only mentioned by 80s (70s?) pornstar, Amber Lynn, who plays a reporter (I guess?) who stands in front of a bank of A/V equipment and reports on important national events. For example, local guys, Fred and Don, are missing and a manhunt has been launched to find them. (she also reports that after 2 weeks they are found and tell the cops that they aren’t missing, they’re going to visit a relative) When they arrive, no one answers the door, so they let themselves in. Soon they’re helping themselves to the beer and tape recorders they find in the fridge. (that’s not a typo) They play said tape recorder and hear some spooky shit. Just then, big brother comes in to holler at them for making so much noise. It’s especially rude because his wife is sick in bed. Or just pregnant in bed? She was apparently ordered to get rest as part of her experimental pregnancy (maybe?) treatment by Dr Lucas. When Doug goes in to check on the woman, she gives birth to OR is attacked (possibly from within?) by a thing (ehh?! like the title?) with an ant-like body and too-big-for-it’s-head, deep sea fish translucent fangs. Doug calls for backup and the boys come running, but that’s pretty much all they do. They regroup in the kitchen where they try to make sense of things (in a disturbingly calm way). Then Fred disappears to the “third, fourth, and fifth dimension” and the bros are left to fight the now multitudinous creatures. Is Dr Lucas involved somehow? Is Fred gone forever? Where did the things come from? Can they be stopped with power tools? Are they sleepy? Some of these questions (but, not nearly all) will be answered by the strange finale of this FEATURE LENGTH film.
I’m not going to critique this film like I’d critique any other horror film. I want to get that out of the way right from the start. But I hope that i can paint a clear enough word picture for you that you’ll know whether this film is for you or not. I’ll start with the story. Imagine a thin concept – monstrous things attack a couple of dudes in an isolated house – fleshed out into an 83 minute film by 6-year-olds who’ve only had horror films described to them by older brothers who may not have understood them themselves. Dialogue doesn’t make sense. Characters telegraph their next moves through clunky exposition and descriptions of off-screen action. Tape recorders are pulled from refrigerators without so much as a “what’s this doing in here?”. Coats are placed in refrigerators. People disappear suddenly and without reason. Monsters sleep instead of attacking. And so on. There are so many head-spinning lines and actions in the film that the viewers are constantly scrambling to make some sense of what their seeing. Technically, the film is an abject mess. Clunky editing, wild shifts in lighting, continuity errors, flat/2-dimensional shots (i know – it’s all 2d. but you get what i mean), disorienting framing, and more. And the acting… well, it’s quite a stretch to even call it that. Dr Lucas in particular can’t seem to keep the smirk off of his face while struggling to deliver coherent lines. But the film exudes heart. These guys made a feature film (on 8mm) and it looks like they had fun doing it. They are horror fans and it shows. No matter how inept they are as horror filmmakers. And it makes for a fun experience if you’re willing to relax and focus on the accomplishment and the insanity of it all.
The Final Cut: Things fails in almost every aspect of filmmaking, but ends up being more than just the sum of its parts with a lot of heart and simply astounding, wall-to-wall craziness.