Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A simple plan

I love B movies with a high concept and a low budget, where the director packs 90 minutes—the optimal length for a B movie—with as many variations as possible on the core premise: Cube (strangers must escape from a deadly, always-changing maze); Cellular (kidnapped woman randomly dials and reaches slacker's cell phone; he has to remain on the line while trying to locate her); Phone Booth (the reverse: while in phone booth random man gets call that a sniper is watching him and will shoot if man tries to leave the booth); Descent (women go down cave; mutant creatures hunt them down); Joy Ride (pranksters punk psycho trucker via CB radio; he hunts them down). And that's just recentish ones.

Add Marc Evans' My Little Eye to this canon of satisfying popcorn cheapies. Five people must remain in an isolated, snowbound house for six months—while each of their move is webcast 24/7, à la Big Brother—in order to win $1 million; if one leaves, they all lose. But is there someone outside? Director Evans takes the classic "and then there was none" model (prime example: Alien), wraps it in a reality-TV aesthetic and adds a dash of The Shining for flavor. The barely-above-average acting doesn't help, but the claustrophobic atmosphere is pretty successful on a skimpy budget.

Even more intriguing, Evans' latest film, Snow Cake, has recently come out in Europe and seems to have a tentative release date of April in the US. On paper it looks like a total Hollywood-style weepie with extra-crispy casting: Sigourney Weaver as an autistic woman, Alan Rickman as a grieving man and Carrie-Anne Moss as the neighbor who's bound to help Rickman—what? Love again, perhaps? Recover his taste for life? I foresee dignified non-hugging, Evans being British and all.

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