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The Strange Things Boutique




DVD region 2. Crabtree Films.

ICUIf you take the idea behind Rear Window, spice it up with topical ideas about a sureveillance society and throw chunks of Saw into the mix, you have the potential for a horror film that is a tense and terrifying ride, one that could be paranoid and chilling in equal measure. What a pity, then, that ICU pisses away all these opportunities.

Set almost entirely in an ultra-modern apartment festooned with video cameras, this Australian film follows three extraordinarily annoying teens – the hot but irritating Margot Robbie and the almost laughably ghastly Christian Radford and James R. Dean – as they are left to their own devices by policeman father Matt Flannigan, acting as though every bit of dialogue is a one-liner delivered by a pissed off action hero). The boys spend their time spying on their neighbours… for ages. Cue endless shots of people going about their tedious business, backed by what is probably the worst music soundtrack I’ve ever heard, while Robbie argues with them before suddenly and incongruously announcing “I’m going for a swim” or “I’m going for a shower”.

Eventually, after about an hour of nothing happening, the boys witness what they believe to be a murder. But when Flannigan investigates and comes up empty handed, the alleged killer realises that they are on to him and breaks into the apartment. This is a staggeringly anti-climatic scene – after waiting for something to happen, the audience is rewarded by a shot of him walking down a corridor and then a fade into the three teens tied up. Talk about leaving things to the imagination! The film then rushes to a climax with a passable twist ending that is then trumped by the most ridiculous secondary twist you could ever imagine.

Writer / Director / Actor / Pretty Much Everything Elser Aash Aaron (his name is all over the stretched out closing credits) tries to compensate for the lack of action by editing the film like a gnat on speed, jumping from scene to scene, and intercutting graphic but ultimately uninvolving torture shots throughout, where anonymous victims are sliced, hacked and power-drilled by an unseen assailant. Much of this scattershot footage is presented through the lens of various cameras, and the end result is fairly nauseating.

For a film obsessed with voyeurism, it’s fairly timid too. While the thin plot is packed with feeble excuses to get Robbie out of her clothes, don’t expect any nudity from her, or the couples we see engaging in sexual encounters, or the girls in their underwear jumping up and down, or the endless line of prostitutes that the bad guy has visit him. This makes no sense, given that the graphic gore and stream of swearing hardly makes this family friendly – I can only assume that the budget didn’t stretch toward paying girls to get naked.

With some of the worst acting I’ve ever seen, bugger all happening for most of the film and a really flat video look, even to scenes that are not supposed to shot through security cams or camcorders, ICU unfortunately has little going for it. It might ‘CU’, but you don’t need to see it.





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