Judge David Johnson has a riddle for you: What do you get when you cross a bad horror movie with a bunch of idiot reality TV "stars?" The answer can be found in the Book of Daniel, chapter 7, verses 9-14.
Hell hath no fury like a dead woman scorned.
It's interesting that the authors of this film's tagline decided to use the word "Hell." Because that word entered my mind quite a few times as I endured this 90-minute eye rape. Like "What the hell is this crap?" and "After this movie Hell won't be so bad!" and "Why the hell haven't my higher-functioning brain neurons shut down yet?" and "You know the best way to convert people to Christianity? Show them this movie and say 'You could be looking at an eternity in Hell with douchebags like these people.'"
Facts of the Case
The producers of The Scorned left no stone unturned in digging up former reality television show stars to appear in their little horror film. Heck, one of the producers is a well-known reality guy himself—Rob Cesternino of Survivor. Just look at this lineup:
• Jenna Lewis (Survivor)
Wow! That's like 195 minutes worth of fame!
What is the tragedy that our assembled thespians have been embroiled in? Oh, friend, it is a tale of intrigue, terror, romance, drunkenness, betrayal, and scary ghosts. But mostly it's about exposing the breasts of reality show starlets.
The film begins with a visit to a luxurious beach house one eerie night. Inside, Matt (Guiney) and Raina (Schneider), an engaged couple, are in the middle of a heated argument. Watching helplessly in the background is Raina's best friend Nichola (Cannatella). Matt and Raina storm away from each other and Raina spends the rest of the night crying herself to sleep. In the next room, Matt and Nichola spend the rest of their night boinking themselves to sleep. Raina stirs, catches the two in their sleazy affair, runs outside with Matt pursuing, then one thing leads to another and Raina has her throat slit with a poker.
Seventeen months later, four friends, Oliver (Hill), Kristen (Lewis), Seth (Lehmkuhl), and DQ (Fairplay) rent that same beach house for a summer of partying and casual sex. Once the good times start rolling, however, Oliver and Kristen begin to suspect that something is amiss with the house. They start seeing strange phenomena, like eyes popping up in the wall or apparitions materializing out of nowhere. Add to that, their friends start dying in mysterious ways.
Some rudimentary gumshoe work brings Oliver and Kristen closer to the story of the violence that took place over a year ago, but the bodies pile up and the truth remains clouded. Can they crack this case before the beach house ghost smites again?
There are a lot of jobs I would hate to have. Proctologist, lumberjack, convenience store cashier in Newark, urinal cake salesman. But I would gladly do any of those for the rest of my life than tackle this endeavor: producer of a film starring reality show contestants. After four consecutive minutes with this assortment of flakes, narcissists, liars, and outright jackasses, I would almost certainly drive the nearest ballpoint pen into my ear canal. I don't know who had the bright idea to gather together this group of "stars" for a film, but that person either deserves to be a) awarded a purple heart, or b) psychologically evaluated. What Andy Sidaris was to aging Playmates, The Scorned is to washed-up reality celebs who have long kissed their 15 minutes bye-bye.
This film is balls. Even if it were stockpiled with A-list actors, I would still hate myself for having watched it. It isn't scary, it isn't interesting, and it isn't suspenseful. The writing is atrocious (e.g. "That ass looks like a meal!") and the story is derivative and corny. Plus, the deaths are some of the lousiest I've seen. The killer is this poorly-rendered CGI spirit of Trish Schneider and the fates she doles out are ridiculous: one girl falls into a pit outside and is swallowed up by the lawn (executed through some blatant reverse filming action), DQ is tossed down a flight of stairs, a couple gets melted by supernatural lava lamp fluid, and Nichola is wrapped up in a white sheet and thrown into a Jacuzzi. I won't spoil the final death but suffice it to say…aw, screw it, I will spoil it. I hate this movie that much. Matt and Raina, who recently snapped out of her 17 month coma and had no problem getting out of her hospital bed and walking 10 miles, face off one last time, and Raina rips her own throat out, and Matt ends up impaled on a fire poker (again with the damn poker?!?), his heart skewered like a kabob.
So it's crap to begin with. But add this cast of prime time reality castaways, and you've got a product that reaches a new level of virulence. There's not a decent performance in the bunch. The talent ranges from "wooden" to "a thousand times worse than wooden." Combine this scant line-reading ability with the amateur trappings of the script and we're dealing with a vision of the apocalypse Tim Lahaye would shudder to visualize.
Then there's the nudity. The Scorned first appeared on the E! network, with its naughtier bits excised, but with this unrated release, we see what the filmmakers were really up to: convincing as many female reality stars as possible to disrobe. And little time is wasted. In the opening minutes we get a topless Trishelle in a sex scene with Bob (shudder). From there, Jenna Lewis reclines in the bathtub, Tonya bares all in the shower, Stacie J. lets the nips fly while making out with Johnny Fairplay (shudder x2), and Trish gets her booty action on while wandering around in a hospital robe. I don't know if that footage is worth anything to you, but it does nothing to affect my overall take on this film—that it sucks six ways from Sunday.
Anchor Bay has given the film a nice treatment. The first disc sports the feature, transferred cleanly in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The 5.1 surround mix is decent, but didn't strike me as achieving that much more than a stereo mix could have accomplished. Producers Josh Souza, Eric Mittleman, and Rob Cesternino deliver an animated commentary on the feature.
The best stuff, however, lies on the second disc, devoted entirely to extras. It is here that the dirt is dished, and there appears to have been an abundance of topsoil. Director Robert Kubilos shares a fairly honest take about working with the personalities and pulling off his vision, though it's obvious he could have said a lot more. Reading between the lines reveals that Jenna Lewis was a total pain in the ass and Steven Hill had no idea what he was doing. The highlight is the "on-set fight" footage, essentially 15 minutes of juvenile reality melodrama and unrestrained profanity.
Also included is a dopey "History of Reality TV" bit with Rob C., audition footage (man, if I were an actor who trained my butt off at a school and saw these try-outs I'd shoot myself), trailers and promos, and a password that grants access to a bunch more "extras" online at the official movie site.
Please stop. Please.
Awful on so many levels, The Scorned elicited many gut reactions from this reviewer: boredom from the tedious story, amusement at the ridiculous performances, pity for the cast of emotional retards, and limitless joy at the sight of the closing credits.
Oh, you are so guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
• Filmmakers' Commentary
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