New Line // 2009 // 85 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Franck Tabouring (Retired) // February 4th, 2009
Your fear. His amusement.
His pleasure may be your pain, but to be honest, John Simpson's horror flick Amusement is not as bad as it could have been. The film suffers from a number of flaws and fails to escape the conventions of the genre, but it'll keep you awake for its entire 85 minutes.
Shelby, Lisa, and Tabitha are three young women leading normal lives...until someone from their past returns to haunt and torture them.
No, Amusement is certainly not a masterpiece (far from it), but it is undoubtedly more interesting than many other cheap horror flicks we get to see on the big screen these days. The film was originally scheduled to hit theaters, but after Picturehouse ceased operations in 2008, New Line decided to simply release it on DVD.
Although the first 40 minutes of Amusement lack suspense and surprises, the second part switches gears, delivering enough horror action. Most of it is standard genre material without massive scares, but at least it's fast-paced enough to partly make up for the weaker beginning.
The biggest problem of the flick's first part is its predictability. The plot kicks off by introducing us to the three female leads, focusing in detail on how each ends up in our manic killer's torture chamber. Although we're not immediately told about their connection or the reason why this guy is after them, most of these scenes are pretty monotonous, lacking innovation and solid thrills.
Luckily, the big showdown is more entertaining, despite failing to offer us anything we haven't previously seen. Nothing about the storyline is really memorable, and most of what we get to see here has been done before too many times. I mean, even the stupidity of the victims who simply won't kill the bad guy when they have the chance is part of Jake Wade Wall's script. Still, the finale includes enough tension to keep you from switching off your DVD player.
With a better script, Amusement could have been much more. Simpson's direction is interesting, and the film boasts awesome production values. No, seriously; everything but the writing and maybe the cast looks top-notch. Speaking of acting, don't go looking for solid performances in this thing. All the girls are doing is screaming and looking frightened, and the only thing bad guy Keir O'Donnell (he played the hilarious son in Wedding Crashers) is doing is one of those freaky clown laughs.
I've been pretty satisfied with the New Line Cinema Blu-ray releases I've seen so far, and this high-definition edition of Amusement really hits all the right notes in terms of picture quality and sound. The disc's 2.40:1 non-anamorphic widescreen presentation looks wonderful, with the strong, dark colors giving the film the sharp, clean look it deserves. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio transfer is a strong one as well, doing a perfect job at balancing dialogue with the film's decent soundtrack and other standard horror effects.
Alas, there are absolutely no special features to be found on this disc. The Blu-ray edition includes a digital copy you can load up to your computer, but to be honest, that's not really amusing at all.
Amusement suffers from a script that lacks surprises, but the film's technical aspects and a better second part making it a good horror movie to rent if everything else at the store is gone. Hihihuhuhahahaha...
Review content copyright © 2009 Franck Tabouring; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: New Line
* 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p Widescreen)
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 85 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Official Site