Thursday, August 28, 2008


We horror geeks are a pretty easy-to-please bunch. We're especially susceptible to an over-the-top approach or an audacious style--in fact, sometimes that's all we need to elevate a new film to cult status.

Take for example the 2004 Czech film CHOKING HAZARD, which strives for the zany anarchy of Peter Jackson or EVIL ED (remember that Swedish meatball?) yet never realizes that when going surface over substance you've got to go balls-out, otherwise why bother?

Director Marek Dobes tells his story of a philosophical retreat's run-in with a horde of zombie woodsmen with an aggressive hyper-style, almost gratuitously so (such as filming the removal of a bottle cap with the same intensity of THE MATRIX's bullet-time), but it's a smoke screen, a means to disguise HAZARD's shallow, simplistic plot. Yet, consciously or not, he can't maintain that degree of high-impact filmmaking, and the gimmicky tricks soon fall by the wayside, leaving the one-note story to flounder on its own.

Usually, when a movie coasts on technique the director will ladle on the gore or humor, often combining them to a heady stew that makes up for its hollowness, but CHOKING HAZARD curiously lacks bite in both departments. It's primarily a comedy, though the laughs are consistently ineffective (a casualty of the cultural barrier, perhaps, but this type of humor doesn't need translating). It's almost as if Dobes believes his premise is inherently funny, and the gags will write themselves; The only potentially amusing concept, that of a Jehovah's Witness porn star who accidentally joins the group (and provided the solitary laugh this movie got out of me), doesn't get the mileage it should, and gets stuck as a one-note, repetitive character. The film's horrific aspects don't fare much better.

Idiotic enough to make Benny Hill look like P.G. Wodehouse, CHOKING HAZARD will be best appreciated by those who watch SOUTH PARK only for the fart jokes. Hopefully, this isn't representative of the types of films being produced in the Czech Republic.

I also have no idea what the title's supposed to mean.

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