Monday, February 27, 2006

Depravity, Lust, and Adobe After Effects

Running Scared
2006, USA
Wayne Kramer
35mm

Remind me never to move to New Jersey. If Wayne Kramer’s nihilistic crime thriller Running Scared is to be believed, pretty much everybody who lives there is a sociopath of one variety or another. It’s the type of place where you pray the person you run into on the way home from work at night is just a rapist, instead of a necrophiliac. Fairly early on in Running Scared, the film reaches a level of absurdity better suited for fantasy, but bizarrely, instead of falling apart, this is where the movie really succeeds. Almost unnoticeably, the film segues from pulpy crime thriller into a dark urban fairy tale. Wait, that sounds pretty gay, like the movie turns into Little Red Riding Hood with track marks and a shaved vagina. What I mean to say is that the cartoonish nature of the characters works in the film’s favor, instead of reducing it to a Quentin Tarantino parody.

Careful. She's best friends with Little Miss Syph.

Telling the story of a lost gun and its repercussions throughout the criminal underworld, Running Scared stars Paul Walker and Claire Forliani. Wait. No it doesn’t. It stars someone who looks exactly like Claire Forliani, but is probably considerably cheaper to hire. Walker is best known as the blond guy who takes his shirt off in movies about fast cars or surfing, but here manages to hold his own. He plays a low-level mob strongman who gets in over his head when a gun he’s been assigned to dispose of falls into the hands of the creepy kid who got diddled by Nicole Kidman in Birth. Along the way to retrieve the weapon, he meets pimps, child murderers, and dirty cops, and that’s just in his driveway. Essentially, Running Scared is Sin City with colour film stock and an ear for dialogue not cribbed from a Raymond Chandler novel.

Not the star of Running Scared.

The film’s main flaw, however, is in its over-reliance on style. Have you ever met a beautiful woman so insecure that she masks her natural looks with garish make-up? Well, Running Scared is that woman, except she’s painted up like a clown prostitute, distracting you with her red, bulbous nose and the way her mascara runs when you pop one off on her face. The story, performances, and characters in Running Scared are entertaining, but not strong enough that they can cruise along without a good head of steam. By the time the film reaches its illogical and improbable conclusion, it needs to be going fast enough that you don’t notice how little sense it makes, but it’s hard to get carried away with the movie if it stops every ten minutes to jerk off at the editing console, cutting every action scene into a million pieces like a jigsaw puzzle of a Marilyn Manson music video. Everything switches speeds and flashes back so often, I thought I was high on time. Nevertheless, even that can be forgiven, because it’s better to have style and substance than a lack of either, and this movie has both. In the world of Running Scared, you can have your cake and rape it too.

12 Comments:

Blogger Prince Prospero said...

"Little Red Riding Hood with track marks and a shaved vagina."

Wow, I'm aroused, but I feel guilty, terribly guilty. But then again, I used to live in NJ.

n.b. Excellent review.

7:29 AM  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

I aim to arouse.

If you like the review, try the PG-13 version.

9:14 AM  
Blogger Jerk Of All Trades 2.0 said...

Does this mean you're getting PAID for your reviews?
Sweet.
Ash has made it to the big time.
OK, more like the mediocre time, but still.....

Our little boy's growing up.....*sob*

10:56 AM  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

Yeah, that's it. I'm just raking in the dough. Not only can I now afford to put my kids through college, I can buy some new black market kids after I accidentally broke the last two.

10:59 AM  
Blogger Jerk Of All Trades 2.0 said...

I thought that "University" was free up there.

I'd LOVE to make a "Raking it in"/"Just 'cuz it's on your flag doesn't make it money you crazy Canuck" joke, but I'm above that kind of thing.

Well I'll be damned....guess not.

12:06 PM  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

University isn't free at all. It's priced so that not only white kids from the suburbs can go.

12:15 PM  
Anonymous Jaymis said...

"You can have your cake and rape it too"

I am trying not to think of scared cake walking nervously down a dark alley and dropping its keys while trying to open the car door.

Too late.

7:06 PM  
Blogger Jerk Of All Trades 2.0 said...

WTF?!?
Where's my new post?
I read this crap yesterday!

11:30 AM  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

Fine.

12:56 PM  
Blogger Jerk Of All Trades 2.0 said...

Thank you.
Now was that so friggin hard?

1:28 PM  
Blogger Sam Kahn said...

I was curious about this one... definitely have to check it out now.

6:12 AM  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

I don't think it's getting very good reviews, but it was sick and bizarre, I was thoroughly impressed.

9:11 AM  

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