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Crazy Eights

Directed by James K. Jones

Written by Dan DeLuca, James K. Jones

Starring Traci Lords, Dina Meyer, George Newbern, Gabrielle Anwar

Produced by John Kaila, James K. Jones, Dan DeLuca, Patrick Moses

Rated R

80 minutes

***

We’re getting to the end of the After Dark Horrorfest coverage, and as such, we’re getting to the stuff I was most looking forward to seeing. Former porn diva Traci Lords is well on her way to being a bona-fide scream queen, and her appearance in Crazy Eights sure isn’t going to hurt.

The plot, meanwhile, is also something that won’t hurt—eight kids with a surprising secret in common go back to the place where they grew up to attend a friend’s funeral. Said friend has some creepy last wishes, and those last wishes will tell the now grown-up kids a lot more than they ever wanted to know about their pasts, and the secret they forgot that binds them.

The first thing you should notice about Crazy Eights is that it goes so very far in trying to scare you, even from the outset. Some excellent audio and visual cues go into the narrative, turning what might be minor exposition into a jarring, nerve-rawing ride. But, considering the rather abbreviated runtime we’re dealing with here, it’s less of a surprise and rather more of a necessity. This thing HAS to move with blazing speed to try and pack it all into eighty minutes, so I definitely applaud them in still trying to get exposition out in front of us but also sparking it up.

Also worth noting about Crazy Eights is that, somehow, it manages to get more atmospheric the farther in you go. Normally, a movie will use atmosphere to build dread and then burn it off the farther in you get, almost as the audience gets used to its surroundings. Thus, the surroundings get less atmospheric, and as the net gain falls off, the movie will switch tracks to try for scares. Crazy Eights, meanwhile, will simply change the setting while it tries for scares, thus building a new batch of atmosphere-driven dread while burning it for the shock value.

Crazy Eights is one of the first movies I’ve ever seen that manages to have its cake and eat it too. It’s like some kind of giant jigsaw puzzle in a room lit only by a single spotlight. You see little bits of it at a time, and the more you see, the more the puzzle starts to make sense. Eventually, by the end, you can see the whole picture, and that’s when things get really scary.

Crazy Eights is a solid and skillfully executed film, and should definitely leave you plenty scared. It makes the most of its flimsy runtime and executes some truly spectacular scary moments, leaving it a taut, adrenaline-laced masterwork that will leave you wanting more.

The ending is a little bit flat, but it does manage to tie together the loose ends, even if it’s a bit predictable alongside of its relative lack of scares.

The special features are limited to English and Spanish subtitles, along with Miss Horrorfest Contest webisodes.

All in all, seriously, really impressed with Crazy Eights. It represents excellently just what the After Dark Horrorfest is about—it’s a well-made scary movie that very seldom disappoints.

Steve Anderson is a film critic who collects action figures so he can dress them up as his favorite horror villains. He lives somewhere in the United States.


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