No matter how many times Hollywood screenwriters trot out this tired hackneyed plot in failed horror movies there’s always another just like it around the corner. Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: An attractive young couple Kristen (Liv Tyler) and James (Scott Speedman) return to his family’s deserted secluded vacation home after attending a friend’s wedding reception. With roses petals strewn everywhere and a ring box in sight this was to be a night of elation for the couple--but something goes wrong. At 4:00 am just as things begin to pick up for them again romantically there is a loud knock at the door. Of course being mind-numbingly stupid movie characters they open it to discover a strange young woman asking if someone named “Tamara” was home. After that James has to conveniently leave for a while which leaves Kristen alone. What ensues is about 40 minutes of near encounters with three masked weirdos who clearly are not there to borrow a cup of sugar. When James returns Kristen must convince him there are people trying to terrorize her. It doesn’t take long before he gets the message and the two must use all their wiles to fight for their lives. Let’s face it this is not the type of script that’s going to attract Meryl Streep. Liv Tyler is the nominal lead and altough her rather expressionless weepy doll school of acting is an acquired taste she does prove she can scream with the best of ’em when the knives finally come out. Unfortunately much of The Strangers is ultimately reliant on the proposition that we care about this couple and their romantic woes. We don’t. Chemistry is nil between Tyler and co-star Scott Speedman whose bland performance doesn’t help matters. There’s really not much to say about the masked “strangers” (Gemma Ward Kip Weeks and Laura Margolis) who all act like zombies and speak in monotones. Glenn Howerton as James’ friend has some brief moments that threaten to liven up the proceedings but he’s in and out too quickly to make much of an impression. First time screenwriter/director Bryan Bertino pulls out all the clichés associated with this type of film. You’ve seen it all done many times before in any number of pictures from Straw Dogs to the recent Funny Games and Vacancy. Bertino’s gimmick seems to be letting the audience not the characters in on what’s about to happen. So often we see the killers lurking in the shadows unnoticed by our clueless leads. Then they vanish. This pattern is repeated over and over milking the “suspense ” but not making much story sense. There are a couple of standard movie jolts here and there to mix things up but mostly Bertino proves himself to be a better tease than director. No Hitchcock this dude! SPOILER ALERT: We have a policy about not giving away the ending but it sucks. Just like the movie.
Monsoon Wedding, a film about an Indian bride who has second thoughts about an arranged marriage, won the coveted Golden Lion award for Best Picture at the 58th Venice Film Festival on Saturday. Directed by Mira Nair (Oscar-nominated Salaam Bombay! and Mississippi Masala), it represents the first time a woman has won the top prize at the world's oldest film festival.
Other winners included Iranian director Babak Payami win for best director for his film, Raye Makhfi (The Secret Ballot), a story about a voting box which suddenly falls out of the sky on election day. Best actress and actor went to the Italian actors Luigi lo Cascio and Sandra Ceccarelli for their work in the Italian film Luce dei miei Occhi (Light of my Eyes).
Even though his records are selling, rapper Juvenile will most likely lose his house in Mandeville, Louisiana. The Bank of New York foreclosed on its loan on the house when Juvenile, whose real name is Terius Grey, failed to make any of the monthly $2,329 mortgage payments due since April. The $315,000 property will be seized and put up for auction.
Three former bodyguards of talk show host Rosie O'Donnell have filed suit against her, saying she recorded their conversation in her Miami home without their knowledge. Steven Rubino, Chris Delia and Ted Van Rijn claim they were fired when they confronted O'Donnell about her monitoring their office in her home. O'Donnell insists she did not know about the monitoring device and claims no wrongdoing.
Just as the "King of Pop" Michael Jackson is staging a massive comeback, two former financial advisors are filing a $25 million lawsuit against the singer. Derek Rundell and Gary "Court" Coursey are demanding payment for services rendered as well as are asking for an "accounting of the Defendant's books and records relating to any and all new ventures, financings and investments," according to a report by the Associated Press. Jackson denies owing them any money and his reps believe the two are just trying to make money off the singer's fame.
Former Baywatch babe Pamela Anderson will once again don the tight-fitting red bathing suit, this time to host a Baywatch marathon on TNN, Monday, Sept. 24. The show will run from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. TNN will show repeats of the show starting Tuesday, Sept. 25 from 6-7 p.m.
Independent film producer Laura Ziskin will produce the 74th Academy Awards telecast next March, it was announced. Ziskin, whose producing credits include As Good As It Gets and Pretty Woman, will take over from Gil Cates, who has produced the show for the last decade.
The Wall Street Journal reported that actor Keanu Reeves has signed away a sizable back-end deal and valuable profit-sharing points for his two Matrix sequels to the franchise's special-effects and costume-design team. "He felt that they were the ones who made the movie and that they should participate," an unnamed movie executive told the Journal. Reeves has deferred payment before, sharing his salary to work with Al Pacino in The Devil's Advocate and Gene Hackman in The Replacements.