You know, it’d be one thing to deride this attempt at making a Fargo-esque crime film that utterly wastes the talents of some really good actors, including Allison Janney, Mila Kunis, Awkwafina, Wanda Sykes, Juliette Lewis, Matthew Modine and Ellen Barkin.
Tate Taylor has also made better films, like The Help, Ma and Girl On a Train.
But this really doesn’t go anywhere when it starts with its premise of Janey’s character being left behind by life and going for the lure of being on television. It feels done before and done better. It says absolutely nothing new.
The real reason for my vitriol is that this is an American-International Pictures movie.
That’s right. AIP. The logo that makes my heart sing every time I see it.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer relaunched the studio as a label for films they will acquire for digital and limited theatrical releases without ever understanding that AIP is the studio that didn’t bring dreck like this to viewers. Instead, it was the studio that gave us the ARKOFF formula — Action (exciting, entertaining drama), Revolution (novel or controversial themes and ideas), Killing (a modicum of violence), Oratory (notable dialogue and speeches), Fantasy (acted-out fantasies common to the audience) and Fornication (sex appeal for young adults).
AIP gifted us with It Conquered the World; I Was a Teenage Werewolf; Black Sunday; Black Sabbath*; The Masque of the Red Death; Frankenstein Conquers the World; Planet of the Vampires; The Trip; Witchfinder General; The Honeymoon Killers; Venus In Furs; The Vampire Lovers; the Count Yorga, Blacula and Dr. Phibes movies; A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin; Frogs; Unholy Rollers; Hell Up In Harlem; Sugar Hill; Cooley High; What Have You Done to Solange?; The Town That Dreaded Sundown; The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane; Chatterbox; Andy Sidars’ Seven and literally hundreds more. I could go on and on, but AIP used to mean something.
It still means something.
This movie means less than nothing.
*One could argue that they also took away a lot of what made this movie great and Bava’s genius allowed it to succeed even beyond their tampering.