The neurotic Shannyn Sossamon goes to Paris to visit sister Alecia Moore (aka Pink). The outgoing Moore cajoles her mopey sister to attend a party in the city’s catacombs, where the bones of some six million people are stacked. It doesn’t take long before Sossamon becomes separated from her friends, and is pursued by a maniac through the maze of tunnels.
Other reviewers have commented on the film’s overuse of shaky camerawork, ADD editing and strobe lights. I won’t belabour the point here other than to note that they are absolutely right. That the film is not actually shot in Paris is painfully obvious thanks to the awful French accents of the Romanian extras. The leads are strong enough in their roles, but Sossamon’s character is such a bringdown that she’s hard to sympathize with. The ending manages to be simultaneously idiotic and clever. One senses a great deal of effort to transcend a limited budget, but this is ultimately another case of reach exceeding grasp.
The sound works well. The environmental effects, when called on, do their job (as in the rave sequences), and the music especially is effective and aggressive in its exploitation of the different speakers. The dialogue is free of distortion. The audio may not be as expansive as with top-of-the-line releases, but it is still a pretty solid effort.
The low budget is pretty obvious here at the level of both the cinematography and the transfer. The exterior, daylight shots are the weakest, where the raw, shot-on-video, faded colours and distracting aliasing are most noticeable. The colours and contrasts are better in the catacombs, though the frenetic editing makes it rather difficult to get a good look at anything. Odder yet is the fact that the 1.85:1 format is not anamorphic, and this doesn’t help the resolution and grain at all.
Directors Tomm Coker and David Elliot provide the cheerful commentary, and I will say that, as they work their way through how each shot was done, I was struck by how resourceful they were. There are two making-of featurettes: the usual piece of fluff for the film, and an odder one about the making of the “Blue Butterfly” song by Violet UK. The storyboard gallery is extensive (seven separate collections) and have a commentary as well, which one doesn’t often see, so that’s nice. There is also the usual set of trailers for other Lionsgate releases.
Well, they tried really hard. Perhaps too hard. The film isn’t without its qualities, but it is a bit too irritating to be enjoyable or scary.