Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Horrorpalooza 2014: "Sanctuary: Quite a Conundrum" Review - Written by Jim Herling

Sanctuary: Quite a Conundrum is a movie whose ridiculous title is matched only by the ridiculousness of, well, everything else about the movie. I'm not sure what's more ridiculous: the bald guy with the eye patch who slaps a girl on the face with a used condom; the completely unlikeable main characters; or the weird, laughably out-of-place baptismal ritual at the end. But the thing is, ridiculous doesn't always mean bad.

Despite what it might sound like from the above, Sanctuary (I'm not going to keep typing out that whole ludicrous title over and over again), written and directed by Thomas L. Phillips, isn't all bad. The plot is pretty fun. After dumping the older married man she's been seeing, Mimi (Sasha Ramos) and her best friend Tabitha (Erin Cline), two truly awful, vacuous women who make the stars of The Simple Life look deep, decide to have a drunken pool party with Tabitha's boyfriend Sean (Chris Greene) and the guy he brings over for Mimi, Dutch (Joe Coffey). Mimi's younger sister Kylene (Emily Rogers) and her boyfriend Harris (Anthony Rutowicz) are also invited. Of course, the party doesn't go as planned, there are some surprise guests, a murder mystery, and a twist along the way.

I have to say, for a very low-budget indy horror film, the actors are actually all pretty good. They handle the vacuous party parts well and get even better once people start dying. There are a couple (the aforementioned bald guy with the eye patch and Harris' bible-thumping mother among them) who are a little too over-the-top, but I'm not sure if that was due to bad acting or intentional direction. And Coffey's performance as Dutch was so overdone it was painful. On the other end of the spectrum for me was Anthony Rutowicz, who I really felt stole the whole movie as Harris. His character is mostly there to be laughed at as he walks around drunkenly with puke on his face and an erection in his swim trunks, and he does the job marvelously. Beyond that, though, he manages to inject a lot of heart into the role between all the humor, including a soliloquy about his sad sex life that is damn near Shakespearean.

That's the highlight of the script, though. While the story is decent, the dialogue itself is pretty awful. There are a good deal of ridiculous one-liners, with as many being funny for the wrong reasons as there are ones funny for the right reasons. Likewise, the direction is fairly lackluster; it works but Phillips could have done more with it, the way most of his cast did more with the material he gave them. All in all, Sanctuary was a fun watch, but nothing special, so I'll give 2.5 stars out if 5.

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