It Waits review by Mike Long

OK, let's get the cheap joke out of the way: The movie is entitled It Waits and I'm still waiting for it to get good. Now, on with the review.

Danny St. Claire (Cerina Vincent) is a forest ranger who is going through a rough period in her life. She has recently lost her best friend in a drunk-driving accident where Danny was in the car. Instead of directly confronting this trauma, Danny simply sits in her forest watch tower, getting drunk. There, she can avoid the outside world, including her boyfriend, Justin (Dominic Zamprogna). Danny is glad to stay in her post, but she learns that she must stay in the area, as she has to monitor a malfunctioning dam and keep an eye out for a pair of lost hikers.

Danny finds her bad time getting worse when she finds that her tower is being menaced by a large creature. At first, she assumes that it's a bear, but she soon learns that it's something larger and more sinister. Cut off from civilization, Danny must fend for herself against a monster which is not only fierce, but cunning as well.

It Waits was co-written and produced by Stephen J. Cannell, a man who was behind such well-known TV shows as The Rockford Files, The Greatest American Hero, The A-Team, Hardcastle and McCormick, Riptide, Hunter, and 21 Jump Street. He's also become well-known for writing mystery/thriller novels. Recently, Cannell has turned his attention to making horror films which are distributed by Anchor Bay. I mention all of this because It Waits is one of the most spartan movies that Ive ever seen and its clear that it mixes Cannells background in TV (where production values are often quite frugal) and his love of thrillers.

The movie was shot in the forest near Vancouver and it makes great use of the beautiful surroundings. Dannys backstory is interesting and provides a believable foundation for her character. Those two points are really the only two positive things that I can say about It Waits. The remainder of the film is lightweight, boring, and unoriginal.

The script for It Waits was originally written several years ago by Richard Christian Matheson (son of Richard Matheson and co-author of one of my favorite short stories, Where Theres a Will) and Thomas E. Szollosi, and Cannell has put the finishing touches on the screenplay. But, the script clearly needs more work, because theres not much story here. The basic premise of It Waits is Evil Dead meets Jeepers Creepers (with a real emphasis on the Jeepers Creepers aspects). What we get is a lot of shots of Vincent walking or running through the forest as shes pursued by the creature. There are other characters who come and go throughout the film, but for the most part, Vincent is asked to carry the entire movie by herself. (To illustrate this point, Danny is the only character featured the DVD box, in the form of two pictures of Vincent!) Thus, there are long stretches with no dialogue. When a plot twist finally arrives about an hour into the film, it isnt all that surprising, and it doesnt have much of an impact on the story, as the movie continues to be about Danny being chased through the forest.

As noted above, director Steven R. Monroe makes great use of the Canadian forest, but he can combat the sluggish nature of the story. I found myself wanting to fast forward several times during the movie. Monroe doesnt get much help from his cast either, as the acting in the movie is very wooden. Those who want to see the movie simply for Vincent, are better off watching Not Another Teen Movie again, as you dont get to see her assets here.

When all is said and done, It Waits is simply too routine for its own good. The creature isnt very original, nor is the idea of someone trapped in an isolated building in the woods. Even at 88 minutes, the movie feels incredibly long and padded. If you are in the market for a good monster movie, keep waiting.

It Waits stalks DVD courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.77:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The transfer here is gorgeous and until I learned otherwise, I was convinced that the movie had been shot as a 24p digital feature. The picture is incredibly sharp and clear, showing no grain at all. The colors, most notably the greens of the forest, look fantastic. The image has a great deal of depth and there is no video noise. Artifacting is kept to a minimum. The DVD offers a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio which isnt quite as good. The dialogue is clear and audible with no distortion. Stereo effects are noticeable and good. The surround sound effects are OK, but certain sounds which should dominated the surround speakers, such as rain, do not. And theres barely any bass response. There are two explosions in the film, and both are muffled with little bass response.

The It Waits contains a smattering of extras. The first is an audio commentary with director Steven R. Monroe and star Cerina Vincent. This is an engaging commentary as the two reminisce about the adverse shooting conditions on the film and what it was like to work with a parrot. However, Vincent leaves 30 minutes into commentary (which may be good or bad, depending on your perspective), and from that point its up to Monroe keep up the chatter, which is difficult at times, since most of the film takes place in one location and the story is repetitive. Blood on the Pines (21 minutes) is a making of featurette which has comments from Monroe, Vincent, Cannell, and Matt Jordan (who plays the monster). Theres lots of behind-the-scenes footage here, as the speakers talk about the development of the script, the locations, and the creature FX. The extras are finished off by the trailer for It Waits.

3 out of 10 Jackasses

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