Case Number 12775: Small Claims Court


Genius Products // 2007 // 89 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Dylan Charles (Retired) // January 18th, 2008

The Charge

Some stories should never be written.

The Case

James Van Der Beek (Dawson's Creek) is Paul Twist, a screenwriter who's hit the skids and hit them hard. His wife left him, he hasn't written anything in two years and he's mooching off his best friend David (Darryn Lucio). He finally has an idea for a new movie, but he needs the motivation to work on the script. His idea: lock himself in his crappy apartment for 10 days with no way out. And then stuff sort of begins to happen.

This isn't really a traditional horror movie. It goes against normal horror conventions and develops its main characters. There's an interesting set-up and an attempt at an original plot.

That's not to say Final Draft is any good. It's terrible. But it deserves points for at least not going the normal route of "slasher kills coeds."

But at least with the slasher variety of horror, something actually happens. Watching James Van Der Beek struggle with writer's block and his sanity isn't very scary. Or thought provoking. Or attention holding. He throws things, he yells at the imaginary people roaming around his apartment and he learns about himself. But it moves too slowly and it couldn't happen to a blander person.

Movies that spend their time focused on only a few characters in a single setting are dependent on how interesting the characters are. Misery has the lunatic nurse and the resourceful writer. Hard Candy has the pedophile and the resourceful kid. Final Draft has a bland whiny writer and various aspects of his personality running around with him. He's a weak character with a complete inability to deal with his problems. If we're going to be trapped in a room with a person for an hour and a half, it damned well better be an interesting person.

The other characters that populate Final Draft are paper thin cut-outs that are there to give James Van Der Beek something to talk to. There's the shrill nagging wife, the unbelievably smug former friend, the obnoxious bully and some tart in a negligee. They each serve a single purpose and then they're murdered by a killer clown. They have no personalities and they're figments of the main character's imagination, so why should we care we care?

In the end, we have someone who was incapable of dealing with his problems in the real world, so he retreated to a fantasy world that doesn't exist and does nothing that impacts anyone, including himself.

The transfer itself is fine: it both sounds good and looks nice. There's a few features consisting of a music video and a making of featurette. The music video (for Emily Haines' Dr. Blind) manages to be creepier than Final Draft. And the featurette is nothing special and amounts mainly to the actors and director talking about the project interspaced with clips from the movie I just watched.

What could have been an inventive and semi-original horror film just becomes a standard, not very scary, bit of fluff.

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Scales of Justice
Judgment: 69

Perp Profile
Studio: Genius Products
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)

* None

Running Time: 89 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Making of Final Draft
* Music Video

* IMDb