Okay, so I promised about a month or more ago to get around to the next film in our little “CineHoax” series in, I believe the words I used were, “the next couple of weeks.” Sue me for being lazy. In any case, here it is, 2010’s decidedly lackluster (at least in movie terms, more on just what I mean by this as we near the end of the review) straight-to-DVD release 8213 : Gacy House, a transparently phony effort from our friends at The Asylum (the folks who continue to bring us such “mockbuster” wonders as Titanic 2 and The Day The Earth Stopped, among others) to do a Paranormal Activity-style “realistic” horror flick purportedly set in the home of now-executed serial killer/rent-a-clown John Wayne Gacy.
The premise is simple enough : send one of those “paranormal investigation”-style teams we see on TV shows like Ghost Hunters and Paranormal State into Gacy’s now-abandoned former residence. In just about the only nod to reality that this flick and its director, one Anthony Fankhauser, provide, however, we learn that this isn’t actually the “real” Gacy house at all, but a home built on the small-town Illinois site where his place used to be since they tore that joint down. Doesn’t matter, though, apprently, since the ghost/apparition/whatever of JWG hung around here, too, even though it wasn’t his place strictly speaking, and scared the new owners off.
If you’ll notice, I haven’t bothered mentioning any of the names of the characters, nor the actors portraying them, since none of it really matters. I will briefly congratulate one, a young lady named Diana Terranova who plays the psychic attached to the team, for her rather perfect mammaries, but I think those kudos should actually be going to her plastic surgeon.
Anyway, if you’re still clueless enough to think this might be a “real” flick after seeing incongruities like perfectly-made beds, dust–clutter-free environs, and gothic candelabras in the living in what’s supposed to be an “abandoned” house(the stylistic difference between the bedrooms, basement, and living actually lead me to believe this was probably shot at two — or more — different locations), by the time a couple of the characters hook up for sex, and the Gacy “ghost” is biting one of the girl’s (Ms. Terranova, if you must know) boobs, any attempt to convince even the most thick-skulled viewer that this is an actual “documentary” go right out the window.
None of which would really be a problem if the flick itself weren’t so damn boring. I mentioned Ghost Hunters and Paranormal State a moment ago and, truth be told, you’ll get more entertainment value out of any random episode of one of those shows than there is to be found here. Sorry, but windows fling open for no reason and mysterious clanging sounds just don’t go very far in today’s “hand-held horror” movie craze. It’s all been done way too many times before, and with way more skill, panache, and a better since of dramatic timing. This is strictly box-check, by-the-numbers shit.
And if that weren’t uninvolving enough in and of itself, the characters here are so less-than-one-dimensional that you can’t even be bothered to work up enough energy to hope to see them die horribly, which is really saying something, when you think about it, because normally when somebody in a horror flick bores me silly, I want to see them dispatched gruesomely merely for wasting my time. Not so much the case here, where you just want the damn thing to end, and you don’t really care how it goes about doing so.
But where the film itself ends, so does my criticism of 8213 : Gacy House. Under normal circumstances, of course, one would at this point say “yeah, well, duh, you can’t critique anything about a movie except for, you know, the movie,” but there, dear reader, is where you’d be wrong, at least in this case. Because in a really weird way I admire what The Asylum have done here, if not what they’ve made, because they keep plugging away at trying to convince you this is an actual documentary well beyond the point where they’ve given their hand away (a hand that, in truth, they never even played). When the film ends, we’re told that none of the people “investigating” the “proceedings” here were ever heard from again — fair enough, that’s typical exploitation-style sensationalism, but then we’re admonished to contact the local police department in Gacy’s hometown if we might know anything about their whereabouts! And that, right there, raises my estimation of this flick by about a thousandfold. Here’s a movie so absolutely unconcerned about anything else beyond its cheap marketing ploy that they’re willing to risk having mentally unstable and/or hopelessly stupid people call up the cops and waste their time just to keep perpetrating a cinematic illusion that they never even cared enough about to make seem even remotely realistic! The Asylum isn’t going to bother actually making a believable pseudo-documentary, but if you’re dumb enough to believe it anyway, please call the cops and hassle them. that’s the sort of absolute amorality I can’t help but tip my hat to.
Quick cash-ins have been a staple of Z-grade cinema ever since the roadshow days, and kicked into an even higher gear during the drive-in/grindhouse era, but this sets a new benchmark for pure chutzpah, in my view, and shows that today’s low-budget moviemakers haven’t lost sight of the art of wearing a gimmick out well past the breaking point. While I can’t recommend that anyone actually waste their time watching 8213 : Gacy House, I do heartily recommend calling the police and providing bogus leads on the “ongoing investigations” into the “disappearances” of the people you saw in it. Tell ’em The Asylum sent you!