The good news is that the first shot of the film looks like something Sam Raimi would have created. The bad news is that it is just because it features an old land yacht that reminded me of Raimi’s Classic Delta 88 (30 seconds of research revealed not much similarity, so the film lost even that cheap thrill).
The Scooby gang is asleep in the car when a crazy preacher bangs on the window. In a bizarrely egregious continuity error, the car which has been established to be parked in the middle of a huge field, is suddenly parked on a dirt road lined with trees.
The lovely Sue wakes up the rest of the gang and they see the man watching them from far away. Truly, the 1 minute after the credits and up to this point gave me hope for another gem like Keepsake. The cinematography was great, Sue is really beautiful and showcased in a 360 degree camera swirl, and the low humming score works.
They believe the figure to be their missing stoner friend who has gone out to spell his name in the road. Sue rushes her lines a little, and her boyfriend’s teeth are blinding white. Jane seems like someone’s sister visiting the set more than an actress, and the stoner is just an awful actor, looking and sounding like the stoner from Cabin in the Woods who nearly wrecked that movie for me. But, other than the stoner, it is a likeable crew which places it ahead of most horror movie casts.
They are going to a house that adoptee Sue inherited from her biological family, and which is shown in a strange 2-second insert video shot of a photograph. The stoner picks up the radio station from Children of the Corn and we get our title-check for “wages of sin.”
They stop at a gas station for supplies. Sue goes into the disgusting bathroom and is approached by a wino assuring her that Jesus loves her. She runs outside and yells at the stoner who was supposed to scout out the restroom. He goes in, but there is no one there. They ask the gas station manager for directions to the house, but he tells them they don’t want to go there — just as in Cabin in the Woods, which was a parody of scenes in countless other films (including the aforementioned Children of the Corn).
They resume their journey and Sue resumes her hallucinations. This time, she sees a little girl in a white dress on a swing. The girl, now splattered with blood, then appears in the rear window in an interesting shot — then back on the swing.
Sue’s boyfriend Ron takes her out to the car and proposes, giving her a ring. Unfortunately, he is left with a pretty big matzoh ball hanging out there. Maybe the reason is that he makes her sick to her stomach. Back in the kitchen she starts yopping in the sink what looks like cranberry sauce — and not the good kind that comes in the can; the kind where you can see the actual berries. She has another hallucination, but economically fits both the preacher and the little girl into the same vision.
Let us take a minute to give thanks for what is good. Sue is still a hottie. The little girl might be blankly reading her lines . . . or she might be a great little actress. And when the Gary Busey-esque preacher speakers, smoke comes out of his mouth. Smoke, or condensation like it is freezing. I’m not sure either makes sense, but I did like the subtle effect.
After eating some 2 years old mystery meat, the gang sets up a Ouija board, again an . . . homage to countless other films. Then Sue begins floating over her bed (The Exorcist). The gang gets in the car and drives away, but arrives back where they started at the house. After the obligatory crash, Sue sees the little girl again.
In one final extended “homage” we get a replay of The Shining, sometimes shot for shot. as the stoner finds himself a maul and goes all Jack Torrance on Sue hiding in the bathroom with a knife like Shelly Duvall:
It was no Keepsake, but it was watchable. Other than the stoner, the cast was competent. The preacher in the hallucinations was a little over the top; which would have been OK if they had actually been able to afford Gary Busey. The weakest point was the writing — the dialogue was sometimes cringe-worthy; and the hallucinations just didn’t seem to work for me.
- Four credited writers to create this awful dialogue.
- There are a freakish few seconds around the 58 minute mark where the aspect ratio seems to change, but they stretch out the picture to fill the screen.
- The Wages of Sin is death. It killed a good evening.
- I’ve got a hankering for some corn.