"DARREN LYNN BOUSMAN"
From the moment the credits began to roll at the conclusion of Saw II, I sat in the theater and I thought to myself “I loved this film, despite a change of director this sequel to Saw worked and I hope this Darren Bousman makes more films”. Well not only did he continue making films but he also directed two more Saw films while also branching out into the horror/musical and remake movie genres. He has quite an interesting film resume, and one that I took great pleasure in visiting recently. His films are a lot of fun, filled with gore (that got him into the unofficial ‘splat pack’) and highly entertaining. He’s a true horror director of the 21st century as he knows what he wants to do and he sets out to achieve those goals.
There are two films I believe to be the best that he has done and I am sure there are those who will disagree but this is how I see it. Having finally getting the chance to watch Mother’s Day, I believe this film can safely sit on the top of his shelf next to Saw III. Now I’m a huge fan of the Saw franchise, with the first film for me being the without question the absolute best. Next to that I would put Saw III as it was just so different to what had already been established and it wrapped up the story arc very well for these three films. The direction was tight, the acting was top notch, the script was smart, it looked gritty and it was just so highly enjoyable. There was a huge amount of psychology at play, even more so than Saw II and that’s what really grabbed me. I mean when watching the film, it just doesn’t feel like it’s a director’s second feature. It was something that a seasoned-pro would make and for that my hat goes off to Bousman. This was a fantastically executed film where elements that probably would normally have gone wrong actually ended up going right.
Back to Mother’s Day (Bousman’s latest film), I honestly wasn’t quite sure what to expect with this. It’s a remake of a Troma film (the original film which debuted in 1980 is hilariously bad) and I wondered how in the world it could be made into something really good. Well my worries and expectations were put to rest and now in Bousman I trust. The film centers on a family where the sons mess up a robbery and they head home to get help from their mother (Rebecca De Mornay) only to find that their house is being occupied, unaware that it got repossessed and sold. Inside the house is a couple who are having a get together with their friends. It isn’t long before the sons stir up a lot of trouble for the people in the house and it gets even worse when their mother shows up. The film wastes no time getting to the point and I actually really liked it and thought it was quite effective.
We meet the characters and then bam, things are happening and things are get pretty bad. This film was mean spirited; it actually reminded me of the recent remake of I Spit On Your Grave except this had a lot more going for it. It had that ‘no one is safe’ feel to it, and for once I wasn’t really sure in what direction it was headed. The cast were all fantastic, the stand out being the one and only De Mornay who seriously owned this role. She played it smooth and cool and it was honestly just such a delight to watch her. I was also quite surprised by Jamie King as she brought a lot to her role and it was easy to get behind her. The film in the end was superbly directed by Bousman, I mean the man knows how to build up tension and make pay offs worth it. With this film being such a great watch I can only imagine he’ll get even better and more impressive as time goes on and he gains more experience.
The film that would sit on the bottom shelf for Bousman is Saw IV, and even saying that, the film is good and a decent addition to that franchise. The series ended perfectly after Saw III, but money walks and it was no surprise a fourth film got the go-ahead despite a satisfying conclusion. There wasn’t really a clear direction as to where it could go but they did their best to give it one and Bousman rolled with it. I don’t think his heart was entirely in this film; the direction wasn’t as solid as his previous two films and things just felt a little too forced as there was a lot going on with the film, and it seemed like a struggle to fit it all in. However it did work pretty well considering, and I did manage to follow the story pretty well.
There were a lot of characters much like in Saw II, but here it just took more of an effort to care and keep track of. In terms of the casting, everyone was really good and Bousman is quite capable of getting solid performances from his actors which is a plus. It had the same gritty feel as was always established and the sets and traps were all quite inventive and interesting. The gore was amped up and again it was done rather well and very cringe-worthy. Bousman likes to raise the bar and he did, if you don’t have at least one squeamish moment during this film he hasn’t done his job right. It is a film I can easily re-watch though and it is much better than the sequel that would follow (I feel the loss of Bausman really hurt it), it is an above average genre entry. Even his weakest effort is still good, not something that has been said of a lot of genre directors.
The one thing that always comes to mind when I think about Bousman is gore; it is something he uses frequently and well in his films. While gore isn’t a necessity for horror, he most -definitely uses it to his advantage. I feel like he wants to shock his audience and give them something they haven’t seen before. The amount of gore and the way it is portrayed in his films does leave a lasting impression and is something very true for all of his films. It’s no wonder he gained the ‘Splat’ reputation that he has, however I wouldn’t call what he does ‘torture porn’. I find that expression silly and there is far more going on than just torturing people. This I think definitely sets him aside; while yes his films do have a lot of gore he also gives us a story and develops characters at the same exact time. His Saw films all have a particular look about them, they are gritty and he makes great use of his surroundings and colour. No matter what the focus is, his films look clear and precise as he’d a very visual person, and it seems as though there is always something going on meaning there’s never a dull moment. The films all have solid pacing; he knows how to tell a story with the right amount of time.
A musical about organ financing, oh yes it does exist in the form of Repo! The Genetic Opera. This is the little film that could; getting a very limited release theatrically it went to DVD and then on tour with Bousman and its creators doing a lot of the promotion themselves. It is the very definition of ‘cult’ film, developing a very loyal fan-base behind it over time. Quite simply, this is a fun film! It is done almost entirely to music and songs, something I didn’t think would work but I was proven wrong. It has an interesting cast of characters from Shilo (Alex Vega) and her father (Anthony Head) to those of GenCo (the biotech company that offers organ transplants) Rotti (Paul Sorvino), Amber (Paris Hilton), Luigi (Bill Moseley) and Pavi (Nivek Ogre). It is a good intricate story, but the basics of it all have GenCo as the savior that when your current organs fail, they offer special replacement transplants for a price.
If you miss a payment, the repo man will come and repossess your organs. Surgery has become an addiction and drug-use now runs rampant. There is more than meets the eye and young Shilo will go on a journey to discover it. Surprisingly the performances, which are mostly sung, are all pretty impressive (Paris Hilton even manages to be tolerable, big props to Bousman), and everything is quite engaging. The film has a very dirty feel to it; it is a future that you wouldn’t want to live in. The ideas at hand are very smart and well executed and it could have easily been something complicated however through the songs the story was easily told and with a natural progression. I really enjoyed this film as it wasn’t what I was expecting at all, and I was overall pleasantly surprised. Bousman successfully created a horror/musical; I really can’t recommend this enough.
Bousman’s next film is 11-11-11, a horror/thriller that deals primarily with the supernatural. This is something a little different for Bousman, especially adding in the supernatural element which we’ve never seen him tackle before. As the title suggests, the film is set on the 11th day of the 11th month, where something from another world enters our realm through Heaven’s 11th gate. More details are pretty scarce and the teaser trailer didn’t reveal too much. Marketing started back last November and I’d imagine it would continue strongly until its release. Bousman also wrote the script for this film, it should be interesting to see exactly what the man has come up with as this marks the second film that he has written and directed (however in this case the script hasn’t been reworked). The film is at the top of my to-see list for 2011 as he hasn’t done any wrong by me so far and I can’t imagine this will be any different.
The films of Darren Bousman almost feel catered to my horror tastes, they fit me like a glove and I honestly can’t complain. In an age where we have so many sequels and remakes, he has tackled them successfully and made himself a stand-out amongst horror filmmakers. He managed to hook me in as a man after seeing his first feature, and I have been following his career ever since. He has some interesting ideas and views on the genre, which really mirror my own. I can’t imagine how the Saw series would have fared if he wasn’t a part of it, would it possibly have been as successful? For me I am glad he was as it gave him a solid name and one that I really enjoy in the genre.