Whenever I talk about films that make people not respect the horror genre, this is the kind of movie I’m talking about. Just an unoriginal, poorly written, poorly acted headache of a film that asks you to go along with so much in order for it to make sense. It’s rare a film makes me genuinely angry without its subject matter being provocative or controversial, but the level of ineptitude on display here honest to God makes my blood boil.
I’m talking about a lot of the greatest horror movies ever made this month, but gosh darn if there aren’t plenty terrible ones to talk about. The horror genre has perhaps the largest catalogue of terrible films, usually because its the genre that filmmakers with no money or no talent tend to lean to, believing all you gotta do is throw a little blood at the screen and use jump scare noises as loud as a star exploding to make an entertaining horror movie. We all know it takes more than that, but I wish someone would have given the guys behind this flick the memo.
Amusement is a 2008 direct-to-DVD “anthology” horror film that connects three stories of three friends as they are stalked and terrorized by the same maniac. The first story follows Shelby and her boyfriend being chased by an ominous semi-truck they’ve been following. The second story follows Tabitha, a babysitter who is watching a pair of brothers when clown-related spookiness start to occur. The third story follows Lisa, who is trying to find her missing friend who might be stuck in an old, creepy hotel. The three girls from the story all eventually converge in an underground lair, where they are chased by a psychopath from their past that has appeared in all three of the stories.
Where do I even begin to talk about this? There’s so much garbage and bullshit to shift through that I’m not entirely sure what the worst aspect of this movie is. It’s all equally horrific, and not in the way I’m sure the filmmakers intended.
The acting and directing is atrocious. Every prominent character in this is either dumb, annoying, or some insufferable mixture of the two. The three girls meant to carry this movie are unlikable, unoriginal cliches pulled from other slightly better horror movies. They make the dumbest decisions possible and don’t have single iota of intelligence when it comes to figuring out what is going on. I can’t be too hard on the actors, even if their performances are pretty bland, as most of the blame can be put on the writing. Some of these lines they force these characters to vomit out are incredibly cringe-inducing. Whether it be teenage dialect that feels like it was written by a 40-year old man or a crappy one-liner, there’s just no redeeming moment in anything that is said in this film.
The crazy guy in this, referred to as The Laugh in the credits, is sculpted as every novice horror writer’s Mary Sue/wet dream. He’s a clever, borderline omnipotent maniac that is a master of disguise, has near limitless resources at his disposal, can practically teleport to wherever he needs to be, and is also a master engineer when it comes to designing anything from torture devices to an entire building. No rhyme or reason is ever given to how this guy can be in one place in one costume one minute, then in a completely new costume and in a new location a minute later. Is he a ghost or demon? From what the film tells us, he’s just a guy with severe mental issues who is seeking revenge on these three girls for…some reason? The movie never really states why exactly he wants to torture these girls. You see a flashback to where he was an obvious psycho as a child, but the girls don’t laugh, or embarrass or even report him to adults. They basically say he’s not funny, and if you expect me to believe that this one instance when all four of them were 10 led him to devise an intricate plan to kidnap the girls through varying ridiculous means almost another 10 years later…no. He’s a wannabe Jigsaw with no actual thought put into him, possibly making him the worst horror movie villain I’ve ever seen.
Some movies ask you to turn off your brain to fully enjoy them, but this film asks you to straight up throw your brain into a garbage disposal for this to make even the smallest smidgeon of sense. The plot is overly complicated by gigantic leaps of logic that I don’t think anyone could really defend. “Should I sleep in the room with the life-sized clown doll that I swear I saw move? Sure, why not?”. “Should I call the police to investigate a creepy hotel that my friend and now my boyfriend have both disappeared into? Nah, I’m just gonna sneak in myself and save them both!”. Whenever the opportunity arises for this film to go down a believable avenue, the movie swerves itself off the road, over the side of a bridge and into a lake of nonsense that one cannot hope to escape from. It gets so stupid that you would swear this was written as a parody, a film meant to mock and tear down the cliched conventions of the horror genre. I assure you, everything in this film is 100% sincere.
A moment right before the climax of the movie is perhaps the dumbest part, so to fully convince you how absolutely asinine this movie is, I’d like to talk about it, so if you’d like to not be spoiled, scroll down until you see SPOILERS END.
Ok, so after the events of the tree stories end we find Tabitha waking up in what appears to be a police interrogation room. The last time we saw her it looked like she was about to be killed by a man in a clown costume, but now she is somehow in police custody. What happened in between then and now? Shut up. A police officer suspiciously hidden by a light asks Tabitha some questions, but she’s too in shock to answer. He leaves, and then a for-hire trauma counselor comes in to ask her questions about Shelby and Lisa. Tabitha admits they were all friends at one point and lived in Briar Hills together. The therapist admits that Lisa and Shelby are also in the building, each she found in a different cell. She also said she had a former patient from Briar Hills who had “the most distinctive laugh” (ugh).
The therapist leaves, suspecting something is wrong, and Tabitha follows. As Tabitha leaves, she finds that she is not in a police station at all, but a dilapidated underground tunnel lair. She stumbles across the therapist who has been stabbed to death by the police officer, who *GASP* was the psycho all along.
Now, a few things. The crazy guy didn’t kill the girls, but brought them down to his huge, extensive underground lair, and threw them in rooms designed to look like interrogation rooms. He then brought in a trauma counsellor, WHO WAS NOT IN ON THIS, to interview each of the girls as if they were in actual police custody. That means this trauma counsellor WILLINGLY entered this damp, dark tunnel to speak to these girls in a setting that was quite obviously not a police station and didn’t figure something was wrong until after she had spoken to all of the girls.
Confused? Yeah, no kidding.
You can tell the writers thought this would be a shocking, unexpected twist that would add another layer to the story and surprise audiences. If you’re going to have a twist, however, it needs to make sense in the context of the film. It shouldn’t be there simply try to surprise the audience, which is what this film does without caring if its believable or not.
This film is load with some of the most egregious attempts at storytelling I’ve ever seen. It actually get second hand embarrassment watching this as I try to figure out if the minds and talents behind this film genuinely cared or not. It’s not scary, not even a little unsettling. Every attempt at horror is broadcasted from a mile away, using some of the cheapest cliches known to man. Not one moment actually got me, not even the cheap fake-out jump scares. For a film made with 10 million dollars, I can’t help but hard on it. They had the resources and they completely blew it. If you’re looking for a good scare, you won’t find it here. If you’re looking for an interesting piece of indie horror, look elsewhere. If you’re looking to get drunk, then hey, look below!
There’s only one way to enjoy this movie, with friends and some alcohol. Do your best to follow the story, angrily shout when something doesn’t make sense, and take a drink using the rules below as guidelines. Have fun, and drink responsibly!