Sunday, May 1, 2011

Movie Review: Amusement (2008)

If anybody were to ever ask me (and I doubt anybody would, but let's just say for the purposes of this post) how you could ever like a film that has a lot of plot holes, I would tell them to go watch this film, Amusement. Because although I enjoyed most of the movie, stopping to think about some of the sequences will really blow your mind about how much it doesn't make sense.

So the plot description given on Netflix is incredibly misleading. Let me try to write one: Three young women are separately stalked and attacked by a crazed killer. One apparently survives and finds out that the man targeted all of them is pretty insane, and holds a deep childhood grudge against them all.

In a way, the film resembles an anthology for the first part - and a pretty damn good one, actually - but by the last third when the core of the movie is revealed, it goes off in a crazy direction.

The movie starts off very well with the story of the first girl, Shelby. She and her boyfriend are on a road trip to Cincinnati and on the road, they start a little convoy of their own with a trucker and another man traveling with his family. When they all stop at a gas station, Shelby notices a dirty and scared woman in the truck and things go downhill when the trucker leads them on a "shortcut" around the interstate.

It sounds like a story ripped from other films like The Hitcher or something, but this movie actually takes the story to a couple different places that even I didn't expect. There's a few really good twists that you can kinda guess as soon as the situation changes but they're still fun to watch. The visibly absent kids, the girl falling from the truck, trying to figure out which one of the guys is the creepy one - it's all woven together in a highly enjoyable way.

The next story is Tabitha. She arrives at a house where her little cousins or nephews, I can't remember, are supposedly being watched by a babysitter, but she has left early (OR HAS SHE???). So now we have the typical story of a young girl in house babysitting on a stormy night. A stranger shows up saying he's looking for the first babysitter, but his face is covered by a hood, which is not in the least bit suspect to Tabitha. Okay, so she's an idiot. The room she sleeps in is the scariest room in the world because it is covered wall-to-wall with clown dolls - including a life-sized doll that sits in a rocking chair.

See where this is going yet? Isn't there one of those urban legends where a babysitter says she covers up a scary life-size doll with a sheet but when the homeowners call and she mentions the doll they're all like, "We don't have a doll like that! Get out of the house!" because the doll is a killer? Yeah, that's what we have here. But again, as cliche as the general situation of this story is, it is still well executed in this film. The pacing is right on the money and milks every bit of creepiness it can from the situation. Clown dolls are always good for creepiness, and this is no exception.

Now Lisa's story is completely nuts. She's out with her roommate one night who goes home with a guy but the roommate isn't home the next day so Lisa and her boyfriend go to the hotel where they stayed the previous night and the hotel is old and creepy and the guy that answers the door is a nutjob and some really wacky shit ensues. Whew.

This part of the "anthology" wasn't my favorite. The man in the hotel (who is obviously the man from all the stories) had all these crazy contraptions in it and a pretty elaborate set up - very unbelievable when you find out just who the killer is. The set for the last part of the film is also a very elaborate labyrinth of huge hallways and rooms reminiscent of the Saw films. All of this happens to be UNDERNEATH the little wooden shack from the first story.

This is where the complete unbelievability of the entire story comes into play. There are not just plot holes in Amusement, there are giant chasms and canyons of plot holes. It's perhaps too much to explain in a review, but if you ever watch this movie, count the number of times you find yourself going, "Wait, how did he... Why didn't she... How is that... ?" At the same time however, Amusement is still actually a fairly good movie for what it is. Individual sequences are almost expertly executed and quite enjoyable. It is only when the whole movie is pulled back from you and everything comes together does it seem implausible and almost ridiculous. Would definitely recommend it, but would also recommend that the screenwriter spend a little bit more time and thought on his next project.


  1. I loved this movie!!! Even though it had a lot of plot holes I still enjoyed this movie so much. I really love the killer's laugh.

  2. I've seen this movie come up so many times as a suggestion from Netflix, but have never watched it. Your review definitely makes me want to check it out!!!

  3. Yah, agreed with Emily, I've had it recommended too and will now watch.

  4. Yup that's how I came to watch it, too. Netflix kept recommending it so I put it in my queue about two months ago and finally watched it. Like I said, it's not the smartest movie out there but there are some sequences that are definitely worth a look.

  5. Narwhal's ToothMay 4, 2011 at 8:03 AM

    Such a bizzare movie with so many WTF moments! Worth a watch, but don't expect a coherent plot.

  6. ..Its actually one of my faves.., I was reallly curious where the wild underground scenes were filmed...??

  7. First off, the beginning of the movie with the trucker scene was far too misleading to grasp the concept. If the trucker wasn't the killer, then why in blue fuck would he proceed to shut his lights off... then try to run rob over with his truck? WOW, that shit doesn't make sense. Then, why would the girl jump out of the car in order to get out of going to rehab. That seems a bit excessive to me. Personally, the way the movie perceived this scene was absolute trash, along with the rest of the movie. There were creepy moments throughout the movie, however, I wish the overall movie wasnt shitty. I am so glad this movie flopped in the box office. BTW, work on your syntax/sentence structure. ;)