Judge David Johnson would like to be elsewhere, the next time a movie like this is sent his way.
Our review of Elsewhere (2001), published January 27th, 2011, is also available.
Every town has its secrets.
And this town's secrets are stupid.
Facts of the Case
Said town is Goshen, Indiana, a jerkwater hamlet with a psychopath running around snatching up teenaged girls and possibly killing them. The latest is a young lady named Jillian (Tania Raymonde), best friend of Sarah (Anna Kendrick). When Jillian disappears without a trace, Sarah gets on the case. Joined by a lonely nerd hopelessly in love with her, Nancy Dr—er, Sarah, attempts to retrace Jillian's steps. Apparently she came into contact with a scumbag through an online social utility and now said scumbag is stalking Sarah.
Elsewhere is a mediocre teen-centered psychological shocker, heavily invested in the whodunit aspect of the story, not so much interested in the "entertaining" part. I'll confess up front it's going to be a chore to power through this review, because Elsewhere did absolutely nothing for me. Worse, it's not even so bad it's memorable. It's just a blah affair from start to finish. And it runs at least 20 minutes long.
The central mystery, as with all these genre types, completely drives the story. Sure there's a mild romance subplot between Sarah and the geek kid, but that so obviously isn't slated to go anywhere worthwhile it ultimately serves as unsubstantial filler. As the story plods along—its sights set on the Big Reveal of who's responsible for these shenanigans—it should become increasingly obvious who the Big Bad is going to be. In fact, if you consider yourself well-versed in the conventions of the low-budget indie horror genre and are familiar with the "hey, I recognize that guy, he's a small-to-moderate star, so there's no way he could be merely occupying a throwaway role" scenarios, then you should have this mystery solved in no time. The impetus behind all the killing and malfeasance? Well, in Elsewhere it's spectacularly shoddy and not worth the long haul the film demands. Shave off a deuce and it might be easier to digest.
The most disappointing aspect of the whole thing is the missed opportunity. There was a cool idea about a killer roaming social online sites looking for victims, but about halfway through it's discarded. What could have been a rewarding examination of the potential terror looming for unsuspecting and too-trusting teens trolling Facebook and MySpace, eventually degenerates into a standard-issue direct-to-DVD chiller.
It is, however, nice to see smaller studios begin to embrace Blu-ray. For all of its shortcomings—by the way, the lovely Tania Raymonde, who played Ben's daughter on Lost, is not one of them—Elsewhere looks and sounds like a champ in high-def. The small town vibe comes across with verve in its 1080p glory. Strong detailing work supplements a thick and even color palette. Additionally, the two lossless tracks (DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD) give you a pair of clean, crisp aural options, though the difference between them is negligible. All of it adds up to a solid HD release. If you're intent on giving this one a look-see, rent the Blu-ray disc. Extras: An audio commentary from director Nathan Hope and producer Vincent Palomino; a typical making-of featurette; uninteresting deleted scenes; and a photo gallery.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
For what it's worth, this is one of softest R ratings I've seen in a long time. Not sure why they didn't do a small amount of pruning and make the film more accessible to its target audience.
A handful of nifty ideas linger in a whole lot of mediocrity.
Guilty. Look for your shocks elsewhere.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Studio: E1 Entertainment
Review content copyright © 2009 David Johnson; Site design and review layout copyright © 2014 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.