Pretty Vacancy: Is AVP: Requiem The Worst Film Of All Time?

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First of all may I start by saying how I love both of these franchises as separate entities, especially the Alien franchise. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again; it’s my Star Wars. I love the aesthetics, from HR Giger’s perverse xenomorph designs to the workman like industrial feel of this vision of space travel forefronted by Ridley Scott and subsequently adapted and expanded by the other directors in the series. I’m an advocate for David Fincher’s much-compromised and frequently-maligned Alien3 (potentially another article in the future on that) and can even see the funny side of the weird and troublesome fourth movie (if we can just forget about the last 20 minutes, huh?) Even Prometheus is beautiful to look at.

And as for Predator? It’s a lesser series, but the original is a popcorn-chomping action classic, while Predator 2 is quite simply a guilty pleasure and virtuoso piece of excess; a curtain call for the ultra-violent brutalism of 80’s sci-fi. The less said about Predators the better though, hey?

Given this, the cash-cow mid-2000’s atrocities that are the Alien vs Predator films hurt all the more. 20th Century Fox and producers Walter Hill and David Giler seemed content to see the reputation of the series roll in the muck if it’d afford them a few more dollars to rub together. The first AvP film was pretty disappointing. Functional as brain-off colours and shapes whirring by the viewer’s eyes, but it offered little more than that and the consensus quickly seemed to be made that it was not-canon for either series and could be harmlessly dismissed. Another terrible Paul W. S. Anderson film and nothing more.

AvP:Requiem, however, is something else. Directed by The Brothers Strauss, who have since charitably offered us, err… Skyline by way of inadequate recompense, their CVs list an illustrious career in visual effects before their feature debut; the sequel to a franchise spin-off that didn’t work to begin with. This might not have been bad news; Ridley Scott was largely unknown before Alien and David Fincher can credit Alien3 as his feature debut. The series had taken risks before. But the resulting ‘film’ ranks for me as something truly horrendous. Far worse than any of the purposefully bad micro-budget disaster flicks churned out by the Asylum and their ilk. When people ask me what my least favourite film of all time is, this is the film that I answer with. Without hesitation.

But it’s been a while. Maybe I’m too hard on the film. Grudges can fester. So I’ve decided to give it another go and chronicle my thoughts along the way. Glutton for punishment, maybe? Or am I about to see AvP:Requiem in a whole new light? Maybe I owe The Brothers Strauss an apology? Let’s see…

00:00:10: 20th Century Fox logo. Nothing particular terrible here.

00:00:53: After a brief title page we snap back to the ‘money shot’ that ended the first AvP: a predator/xenomorph hybrid birthing aboard a spaceship. I can’t really fault this; it’s not even the Strauss’ footage.

00:02:10: Somewhere else, something else is happening in piss-poor lighting. The intent is likely an air of mystery. The reality looks simply incompetently staged. This is followed by a predator tinkering with something and some facehuggers in glass jars.

00:03:41: Earth, some people out hunting and the predator ship crashes into the forest. Admittedly here the CG effects look pretty good. Can’t really complain about this.

00:04:09: Father and son find massive spaceship. Obviously this film is not canon either. Facehuggers start scampering everywhere. Better call the sheriff!

00:05:10: The idea of facehuggers running around after people in the undergrowth of a forest seems one pregnant with potential. In this instance a hunter’s arm is dissolved by acid blood and he gets clamped by one of the blighters. Which might’ve been half-decent if we cared the slightest about who this man is. Same goes for his doomed son.

00:06:15: On predator planet, some stuff happens, including a big ugly face. Always struggle to care when being given tidbits of the predator species’ world.

00:07:13: A bland-faced man named Eddie gets off of a bus and is collected by a local law enforcement officer. They take a drive and fire some perfunctory dialogue back and forth. I already want to kill myself with these two. Gee, I hope we don’t get stuck in a mire of two-dimensional characters and their meaningless shit…

00:08:56: The woes of a pizza delivery boy. Wait… what film is this again? It’s okay, there’s no way a significant proportion of this film would be about a pizza delivery boy…

00:10:11: The interesting tale of a hobo and a dog hanging out in a sort of storm drain. Oh the dog found that guy’s arm. A deputy doesn’t like it.

00:10:52: Back to the pizza boy. All these scenes are pretty short, huh? Kinda doesn’t give you enough time to care about anything. Maybe it’s an attempt to stop you finding fault. GUESS AGAIN GUYS. Pizza boy gets teased, moons over the cute blonde. Wait… what film is this again? No, really. Why this…?

00:12:47: The pointless bullies bully the pizza boy and put his keys in a drain. I DON’T UNDERSTAND HOW A FILM ABOUT THESE TWO FRANCHISES COLLIDING WOULD INCLUDE THIS.

00:15:02: Father and son chestburst together. Nawww. As with AvP, the incubation period has apparently reduced to a bunch of minutes out of sheer lazy convenience.

00:16:00: Some other people. Oh hey, it’s supporting cast members from 24 and True Blood getting reunited and a child not-giving-a-shit about some binoculars. As if we needed more tedious scenes to contend with.

00:17:32: The pizza boy’s brother is going to help him find his keys. Yes, in a 100 minute movie of unspeakable potential, we’re really spending time on THIS.

00:18:35: While the homeless get facehuggered – fuggered – a FULLY GROWN ALIEN watches, like some kind of slithering peeping tom. I’m sorry, is this supposed to be one of the xenomorphs from the father and son? It’s still the same afternoon. If events elsewhere are to be trusted, probably within an hour. I’m going to start just mashing the keyboard soon. In the near-impenetrable gloom (yes, more of that), it becomes faintly clear that a fully-grown hybrid is on the loose. It looks stupid.

00:19:52: Another ship crashes. This one on purpose. It’s a predator. I start checking my fingers to see if I need to trim my nails at all.

00:21:48: More probably-important stuff (y’know comparatively) happening in the dark. My main problem here – and it’s a biggie – is that these films only work when you can invest in the people. The Exorcist isn’t about the demon. The characters presented here are pencil thin ciphers. Without any connection, all this poorly-lit technogubbins to do with the predators is simply uninteresting. I haven’t paused to write this diatribe. I simply don’t care enough to keep my eye on it. If I complain later that I don’t know what’s going on, well, this is why. My own fault but screw it.

00:25:27: Michelle Dessler and, err, no I can’t remember his name in True Blood. Him from True Blood. They put the kid who doesn’t give a shit about binoculars to bed. I envy her her sleep. I think I can feel the cells on my arms replacing themselves, the old ones turning to dust.

00:26:52: More with the pizza boy looking for his keys. Fuck this film.

00:30:00: Half an hour in. I just… *Sigh*. I really feel defeated already. The sheriff is looking for the father and son. Other stuff is happening. I sort of wanted to do part of this so I could talk about the scene later on where an alien goes on the rampage in a maternity ward, and how it’s in such poor taste. I’m no prude, but it’s just unnecessary. Yet… I just can’t sum up the will to get that far as, if memory serves, it’s in the last half hour. This movie is simply too painful. I thought it would be bad, but I didn’t think it would be so draining.

00:33:11: Yeah. I’m actually giving up. AvP: Requiem has defeated me. I just don’t want to see it again. It hurts too much. I might sound ridiculous, I don’t care. Not only a blot on both franchises, but a blot on cinema itself. A husk of a movie that exists not because anyone loved the idea or thought anything in it would be cool, but because it was a business decision. It’s film as product. A means to an end. Well the end here is that I feel pretty rotten about returning to it. Is it still the worst film I ever saw? Yeah. And I can say that with over an hour unwatched on this reassessment purely because it’s so sorry I can’t even bare to carry on. I’m off to find someone who’ll hug me. Fugger.

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