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Sweet Insanity

Directed by Daniel Hess

Written by Adam Weis, Daniel Hess

Starring Mackenzie Firgens, Rebekah Isaacs, Corbett Tuck, David Fine

Produced by George Dykstra

Rated R

80 minutes

*

If you remember the title as being part of a theme song from an eighties sitcom, you’re sadly not alone. That’s the way I remember them, and frankly, after seeing the waste of DVD plastic that “Sweet Insanity” represents, I think the title would’ve been better used as part of schmaltzy eighties sitcoms.

“Sweet Insanity” is the dull and plodding mess of a story that involves a bunch of high school kids getting murdered semirandomly for what only seems like no reason, until the last fifteen minutes or so, when there will prove to be a reason, but it will be so poorly explained that it’s next to impossible to follow

Especially through the massive, angry haze of boredom that the entire first half hour will generate.

The first five minutes are a little misleading, but then, that turns out to be a fair representation of this movie in general. We start off with a dream sequence that’s mostly scary, but in the end, turns out to be just laughable. Continuing on, we get a minor psychology lesson, and then some cartoon character of a high school student screaming about what his first time on ecstacy was like.

Surprisingly, this turns out to be the biggest problem with “Sweet Insanity”—the first twenty minutes are just some mammoth high school drama movie, and only after the first twenty-five percent of the movie is down do we even have a killer appear to distinguish the movie from, say, a particularly low budget version of “Clueless.” And yes, I saw “Clueless”—what? Alicia Silverstone is hot, dammit!

But I digress. In general, it’s just a bad idea to set your horror / thriller movie up in such a fashion that there are neither thrills nor horror to be found until you’ve finished a quarter of your run time.

Worse yet, what tension there is after the twenty minute mark comes in small bursts, never really allowing the viewer to work up sufficient tension to be, you know, scared. Which is sort of a prerequisite for any half-decent horror / thriller movie—the audience should probably be scared at some point.

I spent the first half of “Sweet Insanity” thinking about lunch. And that’s never a good sign.

And then, almost by way of apology, “Sweet Insanity” trots out a brief but very subdued lesbian make-out scene at forty three minutes fifty three seconds. Sorry folks, nice try, but distinctly not enough.

There’s an excellent example of how the tension in this movie is allowed to build and then die off in the sequence between forty eight and forty nine minutes. Watch and see what I mean—something scary happens, and then we boil off into some pointless bit of high school drama.

Finally, we get to the ending of this sludge pit of a movie, dragging ourselves through it like walking in waist-deep butterscotch, and we get to a major plot point of the movie with just over twenty minutes left. A real shocker, too, that manages to explain a couple little things that were going on over the course of the movie. Why did it take us so damnably long just to get to this particular plot point that explains some little details?

The rest of the ending is much the same way—the action finally gets started, some kids start dropping over, and the killer runs amok. Until the very end…when we’re in an insane asylum…and one of the kids…is…in a…straitjacket? Wait, what the hell was that? Comprehension for the last two minutes just falls through the floor. In fact, you’re probably going to be hard pressed to tell just what happened in the last three minutes. If it even happened at all.

The special features include director’s commentary, audio options, deleted scenes, Spanish subtitles, and some screeners.

All in all, “Sweet Insanity” is much like high school itself—far too slow, ridiculously underpowered, dull as dishwater and by the end, someone’s going to wind up in a looney bin.

Sadly, my money’s on the audience.

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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