Hi all, Nate here with a little independent horror movie with some big problems. Like, terrible puss-oozing pending-eviction problems. I was actually snailmailed this DVD by the film's director/star/only-one-who-likes-it, though it took me almost three years to finally get around to watching it (I know, I know, I'm very busy and very important!). She seemed like a nice lady so I don't want to beat up her movie that bad, but I thought I'd offer some helpful suggestions anyway.
First off, the plot is about some dudes and chicks trying to figure out what's the deal with this furry Bigfoot-knockoff that keeps killing people in a sleepy Utah town. The film also features, and in no particular order, aliens, maybe aliens from Mexico, possibly aliens but probably just mutants, rogue soldiers declaring martial law for no reason, a wimpy mayor with bad hair, lesbian scuba divers (!), Mexican humor, strip clubs with no customers at 2:15 in the afternoon, fishing in ankle-deep water, army surplus jackets, stock footage strippers, bottled water, rental cars from Hertz, booting from the command line like it's 1987, Motorola Razor cellphones, frat boy buzzcuts, fake Airsoft gun fetish porn, guerrilla filmshooting at an airport, girls wearing motorcycle gloves for no reason, ponds that give you fake vampire teeth when you swim in them, wait why is she a vampire?, the same two-bedroom apartment reused for every single building interior shot, clipart gifs of communications satellites, a dream sequence backed by a synth-guitar anthem, cigar chomping, running across yards, Yetis who know karate?, Yetis who wear combat boots?, scratch-on-negative gun muzzle flashes, oh my immortal lesbian vampires!, the presumptive male lead shot dead two-thirds of the way in, fake blood, pig intestines standing in for human intestines, secretary at strip club becomes action heroine out of nowhere, OMG vampire-vs-yeti gunfight!!!! wait so the guy who was shot is now a zombie really really a zombie now why the fuck movie, spontaneous human combustion causing zombieism, fake general has hillbilly mustache, so the Yeti thing is really an out-of-control military Super-Soldier experiment?, the Mayor shot dead but no one cares, vampire girl is now growing gills to swim underwater because movie, hacking into NASA computers with two keystrokes and a Logitech trackball mouse, grown men wearing leather anklets like they're teenage girls, everyone using clunky headsets instead of Bluetooths, awww is that your grandma in a cameo part?, the town doctor has no office or appointment calender, math!, mutation quantification figures on monitors, Pentagon Army Chief is a cross-dresser, stock footage F-16 jets with Discovery Channel watermark still in the corner of the frame, and a toy crossbow. The ending is just the last stomach punch of insanity in an already maxed-out-insanity movie, with the vampire lady killing the army dudes after they electrocute the Yeti. Or something, I don't understand.
So, Miss Director, since you asked, I'd like to humbly offer some suggestions to make this a better movie, because this pile is a trainwreck into a minefield full of polio-infected sharks. I believe I can help, assuming, that is, you want to go back and produce a remake/reboot of Denizen for some unfathomable reason.
Director herself, as the vampire.
First off you need to get a Facebook account so you can find better friends to be in your movie, since clearly all the “talent” in this film came from your circle of buddies, frienemies, coworkers, and your brother's plumber's idiot cousin. All your friends awkwardly step in, look down at their marks to make sure they're in the right spot, say a few badly-written lines, try and emote a little bit like they've seen on TV, and then walk out of frame, never to be seen again except at their day job behind the cash register at the Taco Bell in Stillwater. You can surely find better “friends” to “act” in your “movie”, perhaps by “paying” them real “money”. Ditch your Myspace and get a Facebook page, seriously.
You need better lighting. Or, really, any lighting at all, especially in your interior shots, which are universally dark and grainy. It's not “atmospheric”, it's not “moody and gothy”, it's just too damn dark, especially for your cheapass filmstock. Buy some decent photographer's LED lighting panels, you can get them on eBay for cheaper than you think, don't rely on that dingy plug-in torchlight in the corner to light your interior sets. And if you're going to solely use the sun for exteriors, try to wait until a cloudy day, or at least find some shade trees, because direct sunlight just washes everything out. I shouldn't have to tell you these things.
Yes, more shadows, please.
You also need better sound recording, because 90% of your dialogue is lost in half-volume mumbles or masked by ambient wind noise. Not that I wanted to actually hear your dialogue to begin with, but you might want to look into ADRing your exterior scenes if you're not going to pony up for some wireless tape-on mics. Did you even have a boom mic, by the way, because it sure didn't sound like it. Your camera's built-in mic isn't going to cut it, I've watched hillbilly wedding videos posted to youtube with better sound quality than this.
No, I can't hear you now.
Speaking of your camera, buy a tripod. The shaky handicam look went out in 1998, stop doing it. Set up your tripod, or several if you have multiple cameras (ha!), and lock that shit down. If you must do hand-held action scenes (and there's no reason why you ever should), prices on entry-level GoPros are stunningly cheap, you can even buy them at Walmart.
The Yeti (well camouflaged).
You might also want to look into a Rand McNally road atlas while you're at Walmart, because while your movie is allegedly set in Utah, everything about it, from the landscapes to the flora to the license plates, looks like Muskogee, Oklahoma (which is, coincidentally, where you filmed it). Having watched the movie, there is nothing (absolutely nothing) in the plot that would have to be changed one single bit if you had just set it in central Oklahoma. I don't know why you picked Utah for the setting, makes no sense, why did you do that?
You know I can google that, right?
How about some editing software? Because your movie is a boated, beached whale of hanging scenes and awkward transitions, it hurt my eyes and I was only half watching it (playing Doom 2 the whole time in a separate window, sorry). There's all sorts of options, even for Windows, and the on-screen tutorials are super-easy to get started. Or just buy some scissors to cut whole scenes out, no shame in making your 84 minute long mess into a tight 45 minute short film with dialogue that makes sense and plot twists that don't make you nauseous.
No, shoot me!
You know there's a book called “Screenwriting for Dummies”, right? It's like 10 bucks on Amazon. Just sayin'. Related to that, invest in a couple black sharpies for marking out lines in your script that make you go “What, huh?”. Like, 80% of it. There are ten movies worth of ideas in the final cut of Denizen, let most of that go for the sequels (ha!).
Commandos on a break.
I'll send you my mom's email addy, she can make you a monster costume that doesn't look like a spray-painted ghillie suit covered in fake Halloween cobwebs. As any 1950's B-movie aficionado can tell you, the quality and laughibility index of your monster suit can make or break your film like nothing else, especially since you insist on having it on screen so much. My mom is a seamstress and she does a lot of stripper outfits and rodeo clown suits (seriously), and I'm sure she can make you something that looks like a real Mutant Yeti and not your cousin Jimmy in facepaint and shredded newspaper.
The fake teeth are pretty good, I'll give you that.
You should also re-score your remake (ha!), because your musical selections sound like midi outtakes from a High School talent show, one where the amps caught fire and burned down the cafeteria and everybody died. The instrumental background stuff can be public domain library cuts, there's a whole internet full of free downloads, but those half-dozen out-of-tune “songs” you put in at random intervals all have to go. Because they suuuuuuuck. There are a couple great indie/rock bands here in Fort Wayne, I'm sure they'd love to write a track or two for your movie. The Dead Records are good, Adam Strack's voice is amazing, and the guys in Thunderhawk need some work in the off-tour season.
Who are you supposed to be?
Boobs, this movie needs more boobs. That one blonde girl in the two-sizes-too-small red sweater, you know the one, she needs to be in every scene of your re-make, in that exact sweater. Every scene. Can she act? Meh, she remembers her lines (mostly) and is good at not looking directly into the camera, that should be sufficient. Can she kung-fu fight the Yeti? No, but neither can I, but I can make it look like I'm Bruce Lee with the magic of editing cuts and fight choreography. Nothing distracts a viewer from glaring plot holes and shoddy production values like large perky breasts. Sexist? Yes, but this is a movie about vampires and radioactive mutants, so that's the least of its problems.
What are you looking at?
Also in this dress oh my.
The guy with the unexplained eyepatch should also be in every scene, because he's comedy gold and seems to be the only actor whose check didn't bounce. Seriously, cut out the doctor, the mayor, the general, even your own part, cut them all out and just have SweaterPuppies Girl and PirateEyepatch Guy do everything. I've seen your “movie”, I can tell you fifteen ways off the top of my head to condense your useless secondary characters into these two, you wouldn't lose a bit of pacing and it would surely help to tighten up your script if you didn't keep having to introduce new ancillary characters every ten minutes. God I love Eyepatch Guy, even though I can't remember his name or really what his role was supposed to be.
Best thing in this movie.
He even has some scenes with the hot boobie girl.
And finally, if you do decide to produce a new version of this movie, please don't send it to me. I can't do this again.
Hey! If anyone wants my DVD copy, drop me an email and I'll USPS it to you for free. No Canadians and no West Virginians, but that goes without saying. [note: Dave asked for it first, snooze you lose!]
Written in July 2015 by Nathan Decker.
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