Remarkably unpleasant and pointless virtually from start to finish, Catacombs follows Shannyn Sossamon's Victoria as she travels to Paris to visit her rebellious sister (Alecia Moore's Carolyn). Though Victoria would like nothing more than to just relax and sight-see, Carolyn drags her reluctant sibling to a massive rave set within the city's 200-mile underground caverns - where Victoria inevitably is inevitably forced to fend for herself following the disappearance of her sister and her sister's irritating friends. Filmmakers Tomm Coker and David Elliot have infused Catacombs with a hyperactive sense of style that wears out its welcome almost immediately, as the emphasis on jittery, headache-inducing visuals only exacerbates the movie's many, many problems. The infuriatingly thin storyline surely ranks at the top of that substantial list, with Coker and Elliot's misbegotten decision to primarily follow Victoria as she wanders the titular tunnels undoubtedly the film's most egregious failing (ie what might have made for a passable short becomes an interminable feature). Sossamon's expectedly personable performance notwithstanding, Catacombs ultimately stands as a cinematic experiment gone horribly wrong - although, admittedly, the twist ending is actually fairly nifty.
Fierce People (February 17/08)
Before it goes completely off the rails at around the one-hour mark, Fierce People primarily comes off as a lightweight yet consistently entertaining effort - with the uniformly stellar performances certainly playing a significant role in the film's mild success. The story follows a single mother (Diane Lane's Liz) as she accepts a job as a masseuse for the seventh-wealthiest man on the planet (Donald Sutherland's Ogden), with the bulk of the movie revolving around the efforts of Liz's teenaged son (Anton Yelchin's Finn) to ingratiate himself among the various oddballs that populate Ogden's palatial estate (including Kristen Stewart's Maya, Chris Evans' Bryce, and Elizabeth Perkins' Mrs. Langley). Director Griffin Dunne and screenwriter Dirk Wittenborn's far-from-subtle attempts at juxtaposing Ogden's insular community with primitive African tribes proves to be the least of Fierce People's problems, as the movie's abrupt (and downright graceless) transformation from jaunty comedy to heavy-handed drama strips the proceedings of any momentum it may have had and ultimately ensures that even the most open-minded viewer will find themselves tempted to start throwing things at the screen. It's really quite remarkable just how awful the movie eventually becomes, with the tedious hallucinatory sequence that comes in the third act surely cementing Fierce People's status as an utterly worthless piece of work.
About the DVDs: Both films arrive on DVD courtesy of Maple Pictures, with Fierce Creatures coming armed with anamorphically-enhanced transfer, a commentary track with director Griffin Dunne, a behind-the-scenes featurette, and a selection of deleted scenes. Catacombs, on the other hand, has been inexplicably saddled with a 4X3, non-anamorphic transfer that certainly does the movie no favors. On the plus side, the disc does feature a number of supplemental materials - including featurettes, storyboard galleries, and a commentary track that's undoubtedly far more compelling than the movie itself.