Sunday, February 10, 2008


Fairy tales have always been good fodder for horror films. With their extensive catalogue of atrocities committed by diabolical characters, it usually doesn't take much to transform a simple bedtime story into a bloodbath. Director Timothy Friend presents this 2007 zombified twist on the Cinderella tale, though so much of the original's premise goes undeveloped that the whole concept is little more than a gimmick.

Friend keeps the concept of a young girl named Cinder (Goth babe Megan Goddard) living with her stepmother--this time around, a stripper her father met on a business trip--and two stepsisters, but jettisons most of the rest. Her stepmom (Kieran Hunter, in one of four equally annoying roles) is a grating pain in the ass, but never forces Cinder into indentured servitude, nor does Cinder have any relationship to her stepsisters; Friend has a potentially unnerving pair of characters, two odd, mute girls who haven't aged since the prologue, but lets them go pretty much ignored. Cinder also has a couple of guys in her life, her parapalegic friend-with-benefits Justin, and Cash, a bad-boy biker type she lusts after, who's not only shagging her stepmom, but will be the one to kill her. (Let me take a moment to point out that Justin is a sweet, ingratiating character and really the only likable person in the cast, while Cash way too laughable to be the hard-ass the script needs him to be, with a crappy blond wig that makes him look like a male hustler. I mention this only because both roles were played by Ryan Seymour; how can an actor be good in one performance and thoroughly suck in the other? At least Hunter was consistently awful in all four of her parts. I'm guessing Seymour is simply just like Justin in real life.)

Goddard may be easy on the eyes, but she plays Cinder as such a selfish bitch that it's really difficult to care what happens to her. Thanks to a little occultic experimentation she meets up with the skull-faced Baron Samedi, her version of a fairy godmother, described as a combination of "Hugh Hefner, Satan, and a used car salesman," though lacking the various charisma of any, and it's his magic that will being Cinder back as a vengeance-hungry zombie. Played with a booming glee by Santiago Vasquez, Samedi has plenty of promise but brings little to the table other than a great maniacal laugh.

CADAVERELLA plays way too slow, plagued with horrid sound quality and lousy digital effects. Friend even takes time out of the film's meager 70 minutes to squeeze out a couple of unfunny TV parodies of soap operas and redneck used car lots. In short, he spends way too much time on crap he doesn't need, and squanders what little interesting tidbits he does find; before he takes her to the woods where he'll kill her, Cash takes Cinder to a rinky-dink bar that reminded me of Jacques's place in TWIN PEAKS. The sequence is nothing but special, but at one moment Cinder accidentally wanders into a room where a snuff movie is going to be shot, and is almost recruited into the shoot before Cash saves her (so he can off her himself, I guess). The moment is brief, but it showed flashes of sickening dread, and makes one wish that Friend had utilized it more.

When Cinder finally returns from her grave, she exacts her revenge in a predictably gory manner, including a killing spree on the bar patrons. The bloodshed is over-the-top, but Friend glosses over it in such a perfunctory manner you wonder why he'd bothered; the gorehounds who were patiently waiting are going to feel ripped off. And why does Cinder graphically dispatch a room full of total strangers, yet saves the least interesting death for the guy who knocked her off? Friend may have an answer, but I'd already shrugged this piece of junk off at the twenty-minute mark.

I never thought I'd say this, but you'd be better off with the classic Disney version. Or at least dig up a copy of the original tale, which offers far more dark enjoyment that this shitfest.

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