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13 Eerie (2013)

Entertainment One
DVD Released: 4/2/2013

All Ratings out of
Video: 1/2
Audio: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 3/26/2013

I haven't done any sort of scientific study on this, but based on anecdotal evidence, I would venture to guess that the screenplay for most movies is credited to one writer. Of course, we see plenty of movies where two names aer listed under "Written by" and sometimes it's more than that, giving the appearance that a committee wrote the movie. But, have you ever given any thought to why it can take multiple people to write a script? I'm sure that there are many reasons why this occurs, but I guarantee that one explanation is that one writer comes up with a great idea and the other writer helps to flesh it out. Being a creative person doesn't mean that you can envision the big picture, and writers like this can need assistance. I wish that a second writer had come on-board for 13 Eerie.

As 13 Eerie opens, we watch a group of travelers venture by river and then via bus to a desolate area, which is covered with deep forests, marshes, and open fields. This group is comprised of six students -- Megan (Katharine Isabelle), Daniel (Brendan Fehr), Josh (Brendan Fletcher), Patrick (Jesse Moss), Kate (Kristie Patterson), and Rob (Michael Eisner) -- who have ventured to this sad place with their professor, Tomkins (Michael Shanks), for a learning exercise. The young people are studying to be forensic examiners and the area has been designed to recreate a plane crash or other disaster. Corpses have been placed in various locations and it's up to the students to study them and gather data. Tompkins will watch from a central location with the aid of Larry (Nick Moran), an ex-con who is helping as part of his work-release program. Tomkins is a serious man and he immediately has the students get to work. However, no one asks about the old, abandoned prison nearby. However, when an extra cadaver is found, questions do arise and soon the isolated area is in chaos.

I don't get to say this nearly often enough, so I'm really going to enjoy it -- 13 Eerie has a basic premise which I've never seen before. The idea of forensic scientists getting practice (literally) in the field is a great one and Writer Christian Piers Betley is to be commended for it. The film's first act delivers a secluded location where there are already dead bodies. This lays the perfect groundwork for some creepy hijinks. I have to admit that I knew nothing about 13 Eerie going in and I liked how Director Lowell Dean slowly set up the introductory story, especially the reveal of the unidentified dead body. With the first 30 minutes or so, 13 Eerie looks as if it's going to be a creepy and fun mystery.

And then it all goes out the window and becomes a very pedestrian zombie movie. And when I say pedestrian, I mean that you've seen it all before. Even if you aren't a zombie-movie aficionado, youíve seen stuff like this on The Walking Dead. Essentially, the movie takes all of the build-up and clever ideas from the first act and throws them all away in favor of a movie in which the characters are chased by zombies, cornered by zombies, and forced to fight with zombies. Character and plot development suddenly become non-existent, as we are treated to one identical scene after another of someone running through the woods or of a character coming into the main cabin and saying, ďWhere is everybody?Ē (This seems like a running joke after a while.) The movie also decides to keep the explanation for the zombies vague, which isnít going to win it any friends.

Basic filmmaking techniques break down in the second half of the film as well. The first zombie attack becomes a jumbled mess, as the victim is chased through the forest and geography suddenly falls apart due to sloppy editing. Itís implied that the zombie is in her face and then its in the distance and then itís close again. This goes on for several minutes. As the sun sets in the story, the photography becomes dark and it can be difficult to discern what is happening.

A question which is often asked in sports is would it be better to be blown out or to lose in the last second? With a movie like 13 Eerie, we have to ask, which is worse, a movie which sucks from beginning to end, or one which shows promise and then lets us down? I really liked the opening of 13 Eerie, but I lost interest when it turned into an also ran. For you die-hard zombie fans, the movie receives kudos for gore effects and for having zombies which are in make-up from head-to-toe. But, this canít help overcome a story which goes nowhere and a title which is simply confusing.

13 Eerie attempts to get way too much mileage out of a mysterious corrosive liquid on DVD courtesy of Entertainment One. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. In the opening sequences, the image is sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. For a DVD, the depth is noticeable and the colors look good. The level of detail is good as well. However, as noted above, once it gets dark, the picture gets dark as well, and the darkness in some shots is simply unacceptable. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This track really comes to life during the zombie attacks. The stereo effects are nicely done and occasionally hint at things occurring off-screen. The surround sound effects are nicely done, especially when a zombie is coming from behind a character. These effects do help to heighten the feeling of the characters being trapped. The attack scenes also offer helpful subwoofer effects.

The 13 Eerie DVD contains a few extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Lowell Dean and Producer Mark Montague. The DVD contains four FEATURETTES, which can be watched in succession thanks to a nice "Play All" selection. "Welcome to 13 Eerie", "The Monsters", "Surviving", and "Storyboarding" run 22 minutes total. The pieces offers interviews with the cast and filmmakers who discuss the story and the production. We get some on-set footage, production stills, as well as rehearsal footage. We also get a behind-the-scenes look the creation and application of the zombie makeup. The final extra is a PHOTO GALLERY.

Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2013.