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5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars So terrifying, even the sea stayed calm, 9 Feb. 2010
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This review is from: Donkey Punch [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
I hoped, at one stage, that this was going to be a modern take on the Mary Celeste, that we would be confronted with the mystery (albeit one the audience had seen explained) of a boat adrift on that silent sea, waiting discovery by mystified coast guards or police officers. What we got was a bunch of 20-something adolescent mariners with turkeys hanging round their necks.

On the plus side, it's quite well shot, though the editing and direction are just a bit obvious - the Chekhov advice to playwrights, if you have a gun hanging on the wall in act one, it has to be used in act two. So we see plenty of artifacts which will later find a use in the plot (and generally in the dismemberment of one or other of the characters).

I do, however, use the word 'characters' loosely. You take a loose bunch of three randy Leeds lassies, stick 'em on a boat with four randy young blokes, mix in some alcohol, sunshine, sea, bikinis, drugs, and some really contrived sex, and what have you got? Well, a film with some naked women, a lot of gore (all very tastefully done), a couple of imaginative executions, and a plot which is a bit of a steeplechase ... it's driven by the question, "how do we get over the next hurdle?" You pray there is an end in sight. There are, however, no characters, just roles - the chess pieces who move the action forward.

The film was evidently sold on its sexual content. Well, Sian Breckin has a very watchable body, and she does get her clothes off and flash it around for a few minutes. The sex is extraordinarily tame ... and characterless. And predictable. And functional - the sort of sex that people do for appearance sake but don't expect to enjoy. It was like watching young strangers having married middle-aged sex. Frankly, I've had more fun peeling a cucumber.

The gore? Well, reasonably well choreographed to be fair. Well, reasonably well pictured. And, well, reasonably tasteful. The murder, mayhem and gore is a cut above the average American student gore-fest. At least there are no vampires, werewolves, psychotic serial killers, or whatever running amok here. Just seven half-witted 20-somethings.

And that's the problem. These are a bunch of half-wits. You find it very hard to believe in them as characters, you find it impossible to identify with them (mind you, the lassies are supposed to be from Leeds), and you certainly find it impossible to like them. A couple of minutes into the film and I was adopting an unapologetically sexist attitude (or maybe, just a heterosexual male one) and hoping the girls would get their clothes off - it was, after all, the only thing about them I was going to like. Gimme five minutes of nudity then have the boat blow up killing them all outright, and I won't have to sit through another hour of this.

You have no sympathy for these self-inflatable characters. You really don't care if they come to a sticky end. It is boringly predictable in places - it's obvious what the boys see in the girls, you wonder why even a bunch of Leeds lassies would fall for a bunch of guys like these or put themselves in the situations they get into. The actresses playing the roles are clearly too sophisticated in their style to be that thick ... or that desperate ... or that available.

Contrived, unrewarding, obvious, it gets one star for the picture quality, and a second for Ms.Breckin's body ... and, if you're male, once you've seen that, switch off the film and find something else to do, because that is the highlight. There's a bit in the DVD extras where the cast are asked if the sex scene was necessary - well, it's the most contrived part of the plot, the plot (as such) hinges around it, it's tame, it's unbelievable, and if you didn't get to see Ms.Breckin's opulent breasts, there would be nothing worth watching. And when a film comes down to that, you know it's lost the plot.
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