CAST: Bianca Haase, Michael Vlamis, Brock O’Hurn, Michelle Randolph, Dave Sheridan
RUNNING TIME: 75 mins
BASICALLY…: A group of friends travel to an abandoned Hawaiian resort, which is said to be haunted…
NOW FOR THE REVIEW…
I can’t even begin to describe The Resort, a horror movie so bad that it’s left me somewhat speechless by how bad it is.
I almost can’t believe this is a movie that exists, because in no way does it feel like an actual movie, and more like an educational experiment designed to show any budding filmmaker taking a Filmmaking 101 module how not to make a film like this.
Seriously, you almost have to see it to know how much they screwed up, but then again that would mean you having to actually watch it, and I guarantee that you will be left as utterly perplexed as I was by the filmmaking incompetence so unashamedly on display here, on every level from the acting to the cinematography to especially the sound (which once I get started on, I fear that there’s no stopping me).
But enough hyperbole: what is it about The Resort that makes it such a jaw-droppingly awful movie? Let’s start at the beginning, and I mean right at the very beginning: after a brief prologue with a security guard patrolling an abandoned Hawaiian resort, we’re suddenly transported to a hospital room where a young woman named Lex (Bianca Haase) is being interviewed by a police detective (Dave Sheridan) who wants to know the circumstances of how she ended up in her current state. We then cut to a few days earlier – as clichéd horror movies often tend to do – where Lex is thrown a surprise birthday party by her friends Chris (Brock O’Hurn), Sam (Michael Vlamis) and Bree (Michelle Randolph) at her apartment filled with hilariously fake movie posters (one of which carries the vague release date of “Winter 1990”, which is something that is never said on any poster for anything), only for us then to cut back to Lex and the detective as she tells him that all of her friends are now dead. At first, my thought was “fantastic, now I know who lives and who dies, so the movie should be over”, but sadly it kept going.
As it turns out, through crowbarred-in exposition, Lex’s friends have organised a trip to a remote Hawaiian island to investigate an abandoned resort – the same one from the prologue – which is said to be the home of a ghost known as the Half-Faced Girl, a legend that Lex is keen to write a book about (or something like that; it’s never clear what she wants to do). One helicopter journey later – which is filmed in close-ups that so blatantly look like they were filmed on the ground with shaky-cam trying (and failing) to feel like they’re airborne – the friends arrive on the island, have slow-motion fun at a nearby waterfall, converse in pseudo-intellectual discussions during their walk, and eventually come across the resort itself, where of course they come across some spooky occurrences, and because of their bludgeoning stupidity end up right in the middle of the vengeful spirit’s wrath.
I have literally just described about two-thirds of this movie, which comes in at just over an hour (minus the credits) and, to its very little advantage, really does come and go fast. However, believe me when I say that there is absolutely nothing holding this movie together, even for its shortened running time, because beyond its very generic plot – attractive young adults spending the night in an abandoned, haunted building – and thinner-than-paper douchebag characters, all acted about as badly as your average community theatre troupe, this is potentially one of the worst-made movies (horror or otherwise) I’ve yet reviewed for this website. The direction and writing by Taylor Chien (who also serves as a producer) is atrocious, because not only are there moments where you can so clearly tell that he had no idea what to do, either behind the camera or with the actors in front of it, but he doesn’t even try to cover up that fact with distracting, strobe-heavy lighting that barely masks the appalling effects they used to create elements of this ghost and the destruction it apparently leaves in its wake (a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shot of what is supposed to be a dead coyote looks like they just covered a lifeless stuffed animal in fake blood and dropped it into frame). To say that the script makes no sense would be an understatement – the main ghost in this movie is barely explained, and neither are its motivations as to why it is suddenly killing people – but honestly, the movie has enough problems that dwarf even that.
For one, there’s the sound design – or, more accurately, absence of it. I mean that in the sense that there apparently doesn’t seem to have been any boom mics used on the set, rendering any dialogue scenes either almost inaudible or filled with ADR that is so bad that every single line of dialogue sounds like it was re-recorded in a studio, because they barely match the lip movements of the actors. Every time they speak, they’re pitched at different volumes than each other, and they sometimes even overlap with other audio tracks which result in very echoey, unbelievably amateurish sound mixing. Good luck getting through this movie if you have a serious attention disorder, because there are scenes where two people are talking about things that are potentially important, and right in the background you not only see other characters fooling about and taking selfies, but you can also hear their own background conversations as well, which really throws you off-balance when you’re trying to listen to what these other people are saying.
This is a movie so horribly made in almost every sense of the word that I’m shocked that I was even able to watch it, because I’m still not entirely convinced that this is a real film that exists. Critically speaking, and factoring in all of its filmmaking incompetencies, this is by far one of the worst movies I’ve seen so far this year – but oddly enough, I would still rank it just barely above Music, because while The Resort is technically worse than Sia’s movie, at least it isn’t potentially harmful to certain communities – except, perhaps, the movie community in its entirety.
SO, TO SUM UP…
The Resort is jaw-droppingly awful in just about every conceivable way, from its atrocious writing and direction, to the awful acting, to especially its horrendous sound design that blatantly ADRs each line of dialogue yet also fails to mix any of the audio tracks to anything remotely audible for viewers. Skip this at all costs.