Tuesday, November 20, 2012

To Become One (2002)

Pack: Tomb of Terrors
Disc: 5

Subgenre(s): Slasher, Body Horror

Year: 2002

Rated: Unrated
Length: 93 minutes

Director: Neil Johnson
Writer: Neil Johnson
Starring: David Vallon, Emma Grasso, Jade Bilowol

Synopsis: A killer wearing a gas mask stalks and murders a group of thieving friends at a birthday party. Seeking an escape from the tragedy, and to lie low while the police do their job, Melissa and her remaining friends head to the countryside where an even more sinister plot unfolds.


Review: After all the other rubbish on disc 5 of the "Tomb of Terrors" pack, To Become One is quite a surprising addition. Not only is it like having another two completely different movies in one, it's Australian. I didn't know that Australians were even making low-budget independent horror movies back in 2002.

There's no easy way of reviewing To Become One without giving spoilers so suffice it to say that it's a decent slasher for the first 40 minutes even though the killer seems to be an escapee from My Bloody Valentine (1981). It's formulaic stuff with a self-referential moment which adds to the joke, but there's lots of gore and some very energetic action scenes to make up for it.

Then, without any warning whatsoever, it turns into a prototype for The Human Centipede (2009) complete with an obsessed doctor who wants to stitch Siamese twins back together again. His work is conducted in some kind of mental hospital, and the religious cult of brainwashed imbeciles is an original touch, but with one of the nurses named "Ratchet", it's obvious where some of the inspiration came from.

Anyone who watches American Horror Story: Asylum may wonder if Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk ever saw this movie. I wouldn't doubt it for a second as they aren't exactly renowned for their own originality.

"Body horror" has been around since horror began, but it's fair enough to say that To Become One, The Human Centipede and American Horror Story: Asylum all homage the work of David Cronenberg to various degrees. Whether they do it consciously or unconsciously is another matter. If I had to put money on it, I'd say that Neil Johnson, the director of To Become One is a big Cronenberg fan.

The acting in To Become One is adequate for the first half of the story and isn't bad for the second, but there isn't enough to any of the characters to make you care about them in either case. By the time the second half begins, all of the interesting characters have been disposed of anyway.

Whereas the slasher part of the film has some jump scares and suspense to sustain it, the "mind control" aspects slow the pace down to a crawl, and the whole story becomes rather tedious. If you stick with it, there's a downbeat ending to look forward to, but by then nobody cares.

Maybe it tries to force too many elements in which don't gel or intentionally leaves out clues and plot hooks which would make the two halves fit together better. To Become One is either a very original movie or a very badly designed one depending on how you want to look at it.

Most Memorable Moment(s): Melinda whacking the "gas mask killer" in the head with a lump of wood.

Originality: Very original. Possibly inspired by David Cronenberg, but almost 10 years before The Human Centipede.

Best Line(s): "Want a shag?"
Worst Line(s): "I've got a message of doom and chaos."

Best Effect(s): The metal corner post through the blonde's head.
Worst Effect(s): The result of the surgery.

Goriness (out of 10): 4
Sexiness (out of 10): 1
Profanities (out of 10): 1

Hottest Actor/Actress: Emma Grasso as Melinda.

Picture Quality: Average (VHS quality)
Audio Quality: Average

Rating (out of 10): 4

Trailer: None
IMDb or Wiki: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0390564/

Final Thoughts: It may have inspired The Human Centipede.

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