LaBute’s biggest problem, however, is that he doesn’t fulfill his promise to his audience.  The film’s poster shows a little girl with demonic eyes superimposed on a decomposing headshot of Cage, made to look as if his face is being eaten by honey.  This, like the trailer – along with the film’s own promotional taglines and blurbs – tell us we’re going to watch a horror movie.  Instead, it’s more of a thriller.   But oh, how I wish I could say that I was thrilled.

Simply put, the screenplay doesn’t work.  Loose ends abound – like why the two little girls (the one who died in the accident and Rowan) look so much alike; why they never found the bodies of the girl and the mother killed in the fire; or why a pair of elderly twins speak in unison.  There are dozens of improbabilities as well, like the letter that arrives without a stamp, yet is never questioned; the reason the men on the island don’t talk; why all these women hate men so much; and, of course, the big one: how they all manage to sleep with the men (to procreate, yes, we know), yet never become emotionally involved with any of them.

The characters are also implausible, which hinders the acting.  I was so detached from Malus (despite a personal fondness for Cage) that I didn’t ever care what happened, and I certainly wasn’t scared – not even for a moment (and I scare easily).  Then there’s the dialogue.  When Malus told a woman to “step away from the bike” (as in, bicycle), I cringed.  When he said, “Something bad is about to happen.  I can feel it” – toward the end of the film, after dozens of bad things had already happened – the film lost all credibility.  Cage running around in a bear suit didn’t help much, either.  And then there’s the ending, which was supposed to be horrifying, but which had me shaking my head.  In horror, yes – only not at all the kind LaBute intended.

Cage can act, but he’s made some very quirky choices when it comes to films, and this is no exception.  Of course, who can forget Burstyn in “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,” not to mention the more than one hundred roles that have showcased her talents over the years.  In this case, however, Burstyn would have done well to cast aside the blond wig and "Braveheart" makeup, which definitely overshadow her talent.  Molly Parker, Diane Delano and Frances Conroy are all good, but the film’s absurdities downplay their performances.  And Beahan just needs to lay off the lip collagen.

The cinematography was quite nice, however, as were both the sets and the costumes.  The musical score also stood out, as did the first scene, which was extremely well filmed and very realistic.  As for the rest, however, LaBute may not have made a horror movie, but he did make a horrible one.  Then again, maybe that’s not such a big stretch, anymore.

AUDIENCE:  Older teens and adults

DVD EXTRAS:

  • Side A:  Unrated version with alternate ending not seen in theaters
  • Side B:  Widescreen theatrical release
  • Commentary by writer/director Neil LaBute, co-stars Leelee Sobieski, Kate Beahan, editor Joel Plotch and costume designer Lynette Meyer
  • Theatrical trailer

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  Man drinks at bar and indiscriminately pops pills from a prescription bottle.
  • Language/Profanity:  A few obscenities, one strong.
  • Sexual Content/Nudity:  A couple kisses, speaks of child born out of wedlock.  Brief shot of a man’s nude torso, seen sitting up in bed, and a nude woman covered in insects.  Sexual overtones, though none explicit.
  • Violence:  Mostly conceptual, however one violent car crash and fire in which people die and one intense scene where a man is brutally beaten, as well as several dead, badly decomposing bodies due to violent deaths.