Seven Below (2012) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Seven Below (2012)

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Val Kilmer has had it very hard these last seven years since Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.  Aside from an appearance in the excellent Bad Liutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (I still love that title) he's been exiled to the land of direct-to-DVD.  It's here where we can see he is an actor who, from the beginning, has given exactly as much as is provided by the creative team for the film.

If his performance in Seven Below  (otherwise known as Seven Below Zero) honors this theory then there was no one guiding the ship.  After slurring some dialogue and being allowed to somewhat successfully hit on a younger costar, Val Kilmer bumps his head and spends the rest of the film asleep in a possibly haunted house.

So I'm not unfairly setting expectations, remove the possibly.  The Kilmer Sleep Method of acting is not one I'm sure will take off.  Still, it is one which director and co-writer Kevin Carraway seems to respect given the number of times the camera cuts back to Kilmer to assure us, yes, he's still asleep.  In this arrangement between director, audience, and performer it is clear Kilmer came out on top.

Say what you will about what happened to Cuba Gooding Jr.'s career after winning the Oscar for Jerry Maguire, but even in the worst films he's giving it his all.  Even Daddy Day Camp features some spectacularly amazing exhibits of enthusiasm in performing that provide some moments of strange amusement.  Kilmer coasts on the fact that his face will let him spend some time onscreen and make yet another enemy out of a new director.

This is not to imply Carraway has a particular future ahead of him, at least where horror is concerned.  After the opening scenes of an early 1900's family get butchered by the youngest son, now possessed by a demon, we're introduced to the stock characters of Doctor, Husband, Wife, Med Student, and Guy Who Totally Believes In Reincarnation.  Eventually they're joined by the stereotype which needs to be excised from every screenwriters offensive list of crutches, the Magical Negro.

How Ving Rhames, a man no stranger to the direct-to-DVD set, got roped into this I do not know.  But I have a greater appreciation for the way Michael Clarke Duncan managed to make his faith a non-cliche' in the otherwise bad Redemption Road.  Rhames does what he can and detaches himself from the project with a certain bemusement at all the stupidity raging around him, and given the technical ineptitude on display in Seven Below that's not an easy feat.

Visual continuity is completely disregarded from scene to scene with little metaphorical relevance to the barely existent ghost plot.  The fog drifts in, and out, lights appear, and disappear, people move into and out of the frame with no sense of direction or purpose.  The opening scenes are referred to multiple times, repeating shots to underscore there was a haunting in the home, trusting little to the memories of the audience.

A special mention of ineptitude must be given to the lightning by hiding whatever Carraway was attempting to show.  One scene, in particular, involved a wire cutting reveal both characters could see but despite the consistent presence of lightning the sabatoged engine remains in complete darkness.  No matter, the "Show don't tell" rule is completely thrown out afterword where the characters race back and describe what they saw to a disbelieving crew.

Looking back over my past dalliances with Kilmer, I believe it is time to put a moratorium on any future direct-to-DVD reviews featuring the poor man.  The mentions of Cuba Gooding Jr. and past successes were in my earlier Kilmer entries, and I am loathe to repeating myself so directly again.  Maybe once Kilmer feels the same way about his acting I'll be free to revisit his films without fear of repetition.

Ah well, I'll always have Spartan.

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Seven Below (2012)

Directed by Kevin Carraway.
Written by Carraway and Lawrence Sara.
Starring Val Kilmer and Ving Rhames.

Posted by Andrew

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