Plot? Oh, um, a pitchfork wielding killer stalks around at prom, on Halloween night.
Take a gander at the Caretaker DVD cover to the right of this review. A farmer (the titular caretaker, presumably) stands on a secluded, wintery-looking farm property with skulls in the foreground, listing Jennifer Tilly, Judd Nelson and a couple of no-names (sorry) above the title. This image may not promise great cinema, good cinema, or even cinema period, but it also doesn't prepare the viewer for the sight of a jock sitting on his prom date and farting within the first 10 minutes. Yep. Sounds really promising, doesn't it?
The movie opens with a nonsensically unmotivated prologue in which a super-anonymous stoner dude cliche(barely identified as a stoner save for a don't-care-and-you'll-miss-it line of dialogue) goes to a completely random house in a vaguely defined location. The movie appears to suggest he's been killed, but the direction by Bryce Olson isn't nearly as effective as he thinks it is (shoving the camera down towards the actor's head and adding a "slice" sound effect in post-production is his idea of a brutal kill, as evidenced by the fact that every single kill is shot the same way). Next, we meet our supposed heroes, which consist of five completely interchangeable kids. Since the dudes are dudes, they're working out shirtless, and since the chicks are chicks, they're doing each other's makeup. That's the kind of character depth we're in for, so forgive me if I forget everyone's name.
All of the characters completely embody stereotypes and spout dialogue consisting solely of clichés for what seems like hours, so it was greatly demoralizing to find out that only 7 more minutes had progressed when I looked at the timecode a second time. At least the film half-heartedly delivers on its promises to include Tilly (still a looker) and Nelson, who together make about 6 minutes of the movie vaguely tolerable. Actually, the experience reminded me of a recent masterpiece I reviewed for DVDTalk called Hooking Up [Unrated], another really low-budget, really stupid, really poorly-made movie with a few C and D-list celebrities and a barely-related DVD cover intended to entice viewers. Imagine how shocked I was (hint: not shocked at all) to confirm that The Caretaker and Hooking Up are being put out on DVD by the same company! Thanks, MTI, for making a few amateur directors' dreams and my worst nightmares come true simultaneously.
Eventually, the kids get out to a cabin in the woods, where one character spends at least a third of the movie -- a third of this terrible, awful, no-good movie -- explaining the backstory of The Caretaker as a ghost story. I don't know why this movie wants to be set at a prom, on Halloween, and at a cabin in the woods all at the same time. You'd think they'd cut the prom limo, dresses, and Halloween masks to save on budget, but I guess anyone who believes any of this is movie-worthy material probably isn't the sharpest tool in the shed.
A bunch of really bad stuff happens for an interminable amount of time following the endless ghost story (not even the return of Tilly eases the pain), and most of the characters get sound-effected. Sweet relief finally comes at the one-hour, seventeen minute mark, which not coincidentally synches up with the moment the film ends. I wish I had the energy to tell you about the killer's brain-melting habit of rolling fruit at his victims, or the horrible sexist stereotypes embodied by every single character, but the instant the movie was over, so was my interest in thinking about it ever again as long as I live. As a writer, I suppose there's an implied obligation to come to some sort of satisfying conclusion for this review, but if Bryce Olson doesn't have to please anyone, why should I?
The DVD, Video, Audio, and Extras
The disc provided by MTI Video is a DVD-R that arrived in a generic cardboard sleeve, so no assessment of the packaging, A/V quality, or extras can be done.
Damn you, MTI Video. Skip it like you would an invitation to get stabbed in the stomach.
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