This came out last January with an apologetic little release, looking every bit as awful and lame as it is, and arousing my interest by looking astonishingly stupid while also promising the sight of Amanda Seyfried hysterically running around trying to convince everyone that she is so, like, SERIOUS. I mean, so like, so totally, totally serious, like, for real. And while you do get a good amount of that--in fact, it's about the only thing you get--the rest of it just isn't flagrantly bad enough to do too much for you. These damn movies, they just don't make them as bad as they used to.
We join Amanda as Jill, walking in Forest Park, outside of Portland, Oregon. The name "Forest Park" is so generic I'm going to have to look it up to see if it's real (it is). She gets home and marks off the areas she has explored on a map, although I'm not sure she could be truly said to have explored them when she is obviously staying on the defined hiking trail. After a quick boob silhouette in the required shower, she meets her sister, whom she lives with, and who is studying for a big test tomorrow. Her sister says "You were in the woods today, weren't you? How would you like it if I came home drunk?" Meant to imply that for Jill, searching the woods is some kind of ADDICTION. It also let's us know that the sister, Molly, has a drinking problem. Parents are never seen or mentioned.
Molly stays up all night cramming for her big test, and Jill takes her car that evening, the first of a shocking amount of car-borrowing in the film. Jill goes to her self-defense class, where she loses her shit attacking her sparring partner because of her post-traumatic fury, then to work as a diner waitress, where she scans the patrons trying to determine which one of them may be a serial killer. We also meet her co-waitress, whose name I never got. Now, Molly has convinced Jill to join her and an unattached boy for dinner that evening, saying she should start meeting guys "instead of waiting to get better." You see--if you haven't seen the trailer--Jill was abducted by a serial killer the year before, and kept in one of those well-like holes that go straight down into the Earth and naturally occur in the woods. You know, THOSE holes. There was also one in Jennifer's Body, which starred Seyfried as well. It made sense in Silence of the Lambs, because there it WAS a well, but here it's just a hole. Anyway, Jill was kept there for a while, as serial killers are wont to do, but she escaped and became the only survivor of the killer.
So Jill comes home in the morning to find her sister is--GONE. She goes straight to the police within the hour, shouting "He's BACK!" She knows--just KNOWS--that the same killer who took her has taken her sister, thinking it was her, even though there are no signs of attack or forced entry. Wes Bentley is present as mysterious new man on the force Detective Hood, and also present is one of the most fun things about the film, this silent female detective with comically awful hair who sits glowering at Jill through several scenes. She has blue eyes beneath this tangled MASS of ratted-out hair, and she proceeds through the movie with total grim seriousness, in defiance of the absolute ludicrousness of whatever the fuck that is on her head. It becomes like having a clown in the room that no one comments on.
Anyway, as befitting Detective Hood's status as a red herring, he calls Jill on the side and says he believes her, and asks for her private number. He is then given the lowdown from his police superior, that Jill never saw the face of her assailant, that no one has been able to locate this hole in the woods, that she had no physical signs of trauma or rape, that she has been involuntarily committed to an insane asylum, and that she shows up at the police station every time she reads about a missing girl in the area. All signs point to the conclusion that she's bonkers! But adherents of brainless pop-culture feminism know better.
Jill realizes she has to investigate on her own. This soon leads her to the door of Michael Pare, who tells her that a van from a plumbing company was parked in her driveway. I'm quite sure he tells her it was a yellow van, yet she is soon hot after these blue vans. She meets the creepy owner, then meets his creepy son, but both claim not to have been using the van last night. She then breaks into the van and finds a receipt for a serial killer kit, complete with duct tape and rope. The son finds her inside, and Jill whips out a gun! She extracts from him that someone hired the van on the sly last night, but he didn't get a name. So you see, he lent out the use of his Dad's van to some total stranger without so much as getting a name. But as we'll see, this movie posits that Portland's inclusive vibe results in numerous lending of cars to unstable individuals.
The police get word that Jill has got a gun! And if she kills someone, and they knew she was out there loose, they'll be responsible! So they call out an all-points womanhunt. She goes to the hardware store listed on the receipt and makes up some story about her grandfather (watching her make up stories for each new person is somewhat amusing) and then--asks to see his security tapes and credit card records! Some cheek! BUT! The police have found her car outside! This leads to a daring escape through the bathroom window, and a walk on foot through a suburban neighborhood. Police cruisers are lurking, so Jill puts her hood up and joins two walking girls, telling them some bullshit about how she can get them passes to meet Justin Beiber. It would seem that teen girls are ready to believe any complete stranger who walks up and, out of the clear blue, offers them backstage passes with Justin Beiber, but I was amusing myself with the idea that they wrinkle their noses and say "Justin BEIBER? Ugh, no WAY. Try MGMT or something!"
Then Jill goes OFF HER MEDS. I wish this turned out to be more rewarding than it sounds, but she doesn't act any differently. Have I mentioned that there's supposed to be urgency because Jill knows, just KNOWS, that the killer is going to off her sister that night? Yeah. Only it doesn't really work because one suspects that she's just insane. Then she gives a total stranger some money to rent his truck, which he is happy to do for anyone who asks, although she has to abandon it somewhere and I don't think he ever gets it back. That's right: he lends a total stranger that he just met his one and only truck. People in Portland are trusting and generous! Then she goes to her waitress friend's house blathering like a psycho, whipping out the old "Molly's stuck in some hole somewhere, and no one cares, and if I don't find her she'll be killed" guilt trip every time anyone looks at her funny. She leaves, but in a second is back, greeting her friend with "Where are your car keys?" Her friend, this being Portland, simply forks over the keys.
SPOILERS > > >
Then Jill suddenly calls the killer. This is the part I didn't get, because all of a sudden she just up and calls the killer, without my understanding where she got the number. But you know what? I don't need to know. I accept. The killer says they should meet, your place or mine, and she says she'll come to him. He just happens to be in a tent way, way deep in the woods. Okay, so be there in twenty! Jill drives way, wayyyyy deep into the woods, then has to get out and walk quite a ways, where her cell phone starts cutting out (so then how did the killer call her, if they're in a no-service zone?). She finds a tent, and inside, pictures of all his victims, including herself--and Molly! So she knows she's in the right place.
Then: Molly wakes! She's back in that mystery hole! And in just a jif, she's free of her bonds and crawling out of her grimy prison! Which would make her only the second person, after her sister, to have escaped this killer, but you know, this is a special family. But sit down and get yourself ready for the only twist this movie's got: She was hidden under her own house! So she comes out, meets her boyfriend and the police, and calls Jill to tell her she's fine! But wouldn't you know--the killer did all this to LURE Jill out into the woods, because she's the only one to get away (except her sister now, right?) and he is obsessed with finishing the job. Jill finds the hole that was the scene of the first crime, and the killer pops up and shoves her in. Then he comes right down after her, and she shoots him in the leg! Now we have a repeat of ye olde thing where she just leaves the killer right there, slightly wounded, while you're saying "Shoot him in the HEAD! The HEAD!" He of course attacks, she shoots him again, douses him with kerosine (there just happens to be a big can of kerosine right there, I guess the killer brought it?), and burns the fucker alive.
Jill gets home, tells the police yup, I was just crazy, and walks inside, causing the female detective with the monster hair to deliver a satisfied smile, as if she somehow knows what happened and this is somehow a female empowerment, you-go-girl kind of thing, despite the fact that this makes absolutely no sense. We have an epilogue in which an unaddressed envelope arrives at police headquarters with a little evidence pack and a map showing the location of the hole. Case closed!
< < < SPOILERS END
It was inane, but unfortunately not all the fan, and the ending is very unsatisfying. So unsatisfying that you kind of wonder why they made the movie at all, although the messiness of the ending also suggests it might have been a last-minute alternate. I had read spoilers beforehand that revealed the "twist," and I thought the whole thing was going to be dreamed up by Jill as a way to highlight perceived police indifference. That would be at least something, but as it is, you kind of get to the end of this and say "Okay, so why did I have to watch that? What was it I hoped to get out of that?"
The trailers promised a quite-bad movie with the amusement of Seyfried as this hysterical Northwest valley girl running around hurling attitude and invective at everyone, and you do kind of get some amusement out of that, but unfortunately the rest of the movie is dead serious, and nothing is ever that outrageous or over the top that it becomes fun. The funniest thing is that detective delivering weighty stares from beneath her dead octopus hairdo, made funnier by the fact that she has almost no lines. She just keeps showing up, silently glowering. Also amusing is the sheer amount of car-lending, but as you can tell, these are meager consolations. Overall, it just fails to deliver, certainly as a good movie, and not even as a bad movie. Just a big turd, though one that doesn't smell as bad as some.
No, it's a waste of time.