It’s the end of the world as we know it . . . and I don‘t care!
The H-Bomb: Bring on the apocalypse… seriously, I mean it. Bring it on, now! If it means not having to sit through any more of this dreary, tortuously inert, coma inducing crap-tastrophe, then the end of days is something I welcome with open arms!
Okay, I suppose I should backtrack a bit and explain myself. 11-11-11 (a title that doubles as an expiration date) is an apocalyptic thriller (pfft … that would imply the presence of actual thrills) from Saw II, III, & IV director Darren Lynn Bousman, whose surprisingly kick-ass Mother’s Day remake I reviewed a month or two back. With that film, I thought Bousman was well on his way to becoming one of the better genre filmmakers working today… then he had to go and do this.
The story of this supernatural snoozer revolves around Joseph Crone (Timothy Gibbs), a successful author who’s wife and son died tragically in a fire a year or so back. His son was pronounced dead at 11:11 PM, and since then, Joseph has been unable to help but notice the number 11-11 everywhere he looks. He wakes up from a nightmare at 11:11, he gets into a car accident at 11:11, and he receives a phone call from his younger brother summoning him to Spain because their father is dying, and the time that call came in was … yep, 11:11. In fact, every time a clock is shown in the film, it’s 11:11.
So Joseph hops the next plane to Spain, where he meets up with said younger brother, Samuel (Michael Landes), a wheelchair bound pastor who runs a church in Barcelona. Since Joseph has been a devout atheist ever since his wife and son died, he has been estranged from his father and brother, and is none too happy to see them.
But before Joseph has time to mend fences, weird shit starts happening; he hallucinates his dead son, he catches glimpses of bizarre, demonic looking creatures in the shadows, his brother is attacked by a crazed parishioner with a gun, and that damn number 11-11 continues to pop up. When a security camera catches a glimpse of a strange figure, the time code reads 11:11, and Joseph remembers that his mother died giving birth to Samuel some three decades ago on 11/11… as in November 11th, the movie felt the need to clarify.
Joseph, unable to shake the feeling that the number must have some greater meaning, researches it on teh internets, and comes to find that people called “Eleveners” (groan) believe that all of these 11-11 signs are messages sent by celestial beings trying to warn us that the apocalypse will come about on the date of 11/11/11… which is just a few short days away (and for me can’t get here fast enough).
11/11, if you remember, also happens to be Samuel’s birthday, and Joseph’s father cryptically warns him that Samuel is “very important” and must be protected. And after the incident with the armed parishioner, as well as a close call with a falling chandelier, Joseph becomes convinced that his brother is somehow at the center of all the crazy 11-11 crap that’s going on.
Well, dear readers, this Summer has been remarkably kind to me, in that just about every film I watched and reviewed I liked, to one degree or another. This looked like it was going to be a perfect summer season… then the pile of Satanic Suckage that is 11-11-11 had to come farting along at the last minute and break that streak. The fact that it’s barely 80 minutes long, yet it still took me three tries to sit through it all, speaks volumes of how utterly fucking boring it is and what a chore it was to watch. I viewed it on Netflix Instant Streaming, and I still felt like I had been ripped off in some way by the time it ended.
I find the subject of Satanism and the occult inherently creepy and fascinating, and the idea behind 11-11-11 is certainly an interesting one. Unfortunately, the story, as executed by writer/director Bousman, is anemic, lethargically paced, and completely lacks any kind of suspense. The exposition, of which there is a lot, is delivered via clunky, forced dialogue that the actors practically have to puke out of their mouths, and the end of the world scenario is given no urgency whatsoever. This is a rare instance where Bousman is working from his own screenplay, and judging from the end result, it’s clear that writing is not where his talents lie.
Bousman attempts to keep us on the edge of our seats with randomly scattered jolt scares, but they only succeed in keeping us awake (and just barely, at that). He also tries to ratchet up the suspense during the climax, and pay everything off with a big “twist” ending, but we the audience had already stopped caring long ago. At least I did. And as for the twist, it will be pretty apparent to anyone who’s actually paying attention, as Bousman, the brilliant writer that he is, foreshadows it with some insultingly obvious dialogue, “Beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing… The devil’s greatest trick is deception…”, and other such clichéd bullshit.
Adding even more to the movie’s overall dull-spiritedness is the lead actor, Gibbs, who is perhaps the most charismatically-challenged thespian this side of Sam Worthington. If he were any more wooden, he’d be a fucking totem pole, and the few instances where he’s actually called upon to emote are simply embarrassing. The scene early on where he has a big break down at the grave of his wife and son had me laughing harder than an old Eddie Murphy stand-up special, and maybe I’m being presumptuous here, but I’m fairly certain that was not the reaction that Bousman was going for.
Also good for some accidental yucks is the film’s final shot, which is meant to be oh-so-creepy and chill us to the bone, but instead comes off as awkward and giggle inducing… for those few of us who are miraculously still awake by then. And that brings me back to my main problem, 11-11-11 is just so bloody dull! Bousman has shown he is fully capable of making an effective suspense flick, so how did he go so fucking astray here?
Again, I believe the major problem is his lousy script. It’s admirable that he tried to depart from the more visceral “torture porn” arena and make a different kind of horror film, but Darren Lynn Bousman the director was completely let down by Darren Lynn Bousman the screenwriter. For any and all of his future projects, it would probably behoove him to leave the writing to those who are more capable.