On rare occasions in this business you get handed a direct-to-video film that exceeds your every expectation. It breaks the mold of convention and clearly found itself abandoned by the studios because they just didn't get it. Whether ahead of its time, too extreme for even the most bloodthirsty of houses or just mistakenly falling through the cracks unnoticed by most, these films are the reason us cinephiles sift through stacks and stacks of unwatchable crap. We hope to find that rare, elusive gem of a film. And while we're looking for those gems, we end up watching films like this.
About as unrepentantly awful as anything I've seen since Meet the Spartans or Over Her Dead Body, The Cry (official site) clearly was the idea for a really entertaining 15-minute short that someone decided to stretch out into an unmerciful 75 minutes. Where you normally would find a narrative is instead minutes-upon-minutes of people waking up, getting out of bed, getting dressed, driving to work and occasionally, just every so often, actually getting on with the plot. And while there are a number of beautifully executed, steady shots that pan over entire rooms, these seem only to illustrate the director's finesse with a camera, which should instead be focusing on how to tell a story.
The Cry is based upon a variation of the La Llarona myth, about an angry, vengeful spirit who possesses mothers and forces them to drown their (sometimes infant and toddler) children. And as horrifying as it sounds, what makes it worse is that what I've just described takes about 30 minutes for the film to explain. It's not that it's difficult to understand -- it just takes the filmmakers that long to get about showing you that much exposition. As the city is struggling with a wave of missing children reports, a mother begins to hear voices and the police detective in charge of finding the kids begins to realize that his own dead son (drowned by his wife) might somehow be involved. DUN DUN DUN! And yes, it ends exactly as you expect it to.
Oh. My. God. I've seen a more riveting, tense revelation of story on the morning traffic report and seen more character development on car commercials. When I told my editor how unspeakably terrible this was he shot me back a snarky e-mail shrugging it off as an occupational hazard.* No. Marine biologists lose legs in shark attacks and we call it an occupational hazard. This was just mean. Mark, you owe me an hour and a half of projector bulb life that I can never get back. My screen wept tears of agony, begging me to turn it off. It's not that the movie is just bad. It's so boring that it make C-Span look like a blood sport. This. Film. Sucked. Avoid it at all costs.
* Editor's comment: My reply was considerably more sympathetic than Mr. Cargill implies here. But I do acknowledge to Mr. Cargill, who has suffered more than most of us in the line of duty, that I owe him a compensatory bonus. A pair of Shaw Brothers Hong Hong action flicks are now on their way to you, Big C.