To Become One 2002 Review
To Become One 2002
Directed by: Neil Johnson
Starring: Emma Grasso, Jamie Giddens, David Vallon
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
I’m in my early thirties and to be totally honest I envy those that were old enough to experience the initial boom years of the slasher category. Imagine going to see Halloween, Friday the 13th or The Prowler at the cinema. It would have been amazing. I have a wide age range of readers here on a SLASH above, with some in their teens and some much older. Despite the disappointment of being a child back in the key period, I can at least say that I lived through and enjoyed the second onslaught of slasher pictures after the Scream rebirth.
During those times of the late nineties and early noughties, video stores were once again packed to the absolute brim with slasher movies and I remember very fondly hunting through the shelves for the newest releases. There was a (now defunct) label in the UK called Film 2000 that played a huge part in the circulation of the next phase. With a track record that included, Dead Above Ground, Camp Blood, Carnage Road, Granny and Paranoid (gulp), it’s tough to decide if they should be considered a friend of the genre or a foe. Another example from their catalogue was To Become One; and even if it has a title that sounds like an Adam Sandler, Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston rom-com tribute video, it’s actually a stalk and slasher.
We’re back in the world of Aussie horror here, which means we are either going to get an hour and a half with Katie Upton or an hour and a half with Katie Price. I think that’s what I like most about the entries from down-under. You never can be sure what you’re going to get.
Melinda is an uncannily unlucky teen. One year ago, her mother was brutally murdered by a gas-masked killer brandishing a sword right in front of her eyes. Now it seems that he has returned and is happily slicing his way through all of her friends, methodically clearing a path so that he can catch her on her lonesome. More and more bodies begin hitting the deck and Melinda will have to think quickly if she wants to stay alive.
Ok ok, let me take a deep breath here. Right. So, things started intriguingly enough with a murder in the first five minutes, which included some cheap but mindlessly diverting gore. Then, the bogeyman is back on screen, weapon in hand, within the next three. It’s like the director just skipped the usually mind-numbing poorly-acted character development stuff to jump straight into the action. I did think though that just like Borussia Dortmund in the 2013 Champions League final, throwing your all into the opening was a bit of a risk. I mean, who can keep up that momentum for eighty-minutes? I was of course right, but even my cocky know-it-all-ness did not quite prepare me for what happened next.
You see, when the nut job’s unmasked only half an hour into the runtime, things take a turn for the… how can I call it? … Deranged! What begins as a typical slasher by the numbers with a homage to Halloween and Friday the 13th (there’s even a hammy old guy that tells the heroine that her friends are doomed) degenerates into… there’s nothing that I’ve ever seen before that could give you a comparable description. The final girl is dragged to a ‘hospital’ that is supposed to seem more like a cross between a torture chamber and a Nazi concentration camp (but really just looks like an ordinary basement). There we learn a ‘shocking’ secret that I won’t reveal and following that, we are left in the hands of some clunky dialogue and dramatics that have the credibility of an email from a dying African politician who wants to leave $200,000,000 in your account. Only if you’ll kindly supply your bank details and also your credit card number…
Ok so this project cost a measly $2,000 to make. That doesn’t make things any easier for me watching it though. Keep your $2k and spend it on something more worthwhile (film studies courses are fairly reasonable nowadays). The second half of the movie touches on grades of ineptness that have not yet been defined. It’s like the Z-movie version of the USS Enterprise; boldly going to sewerage plant levels of cinematic smelliness that no one has ever been to before. If I were to be generous, then I guess that I can credit the authenticity of the story. Having a good idea however does not mean that you have the ability to direct a slasher movie and the net result is absolutely awful.
There are a few unintentionally amusing scenes; the best that springs to mind is when Melinda’s father tries to comfort her by singing a soppy lullaby into her ear. That’s exactly what’s needed when your friends have been pick-axed in front of your eyes. But Neil Johnson’s heavy-handed approach at ramming the message that we shouldn’t ridicule people with disabilities down our throats is forced upon us clumsily, in a manner that would offend those that the story is using as subject matter. That’s just unforgivable and takes away any comedy that could have been enjoyed from the pure ineptness of the picture.
You could forgive the inane characters, fishnet script (the whole slasher part made zero sense), awful dramatics and the director’s needless switches between colour and black and white photography at the strangest of times, if there was something there worthwhile. I mean, even Camp Blood was kinda fun. One character states, “We’re playing this out like a B-grade movie, when the killer finds us, he’s gonna pick us off one by one!’ Change the B to a minus Z and that statement might be more suitable.
To Become One picks the wrong subjects to exploit and is not even laughably bad. The ever-reliable IMDB took a fair time to put this on their website and it’s not surprising, because it doesn’t deserve a place in cinema history. As Butt Head so philosophically stated when he and Beavis ‘’did’ America, ‘ This sucks like nothing has ever sucked before’…
Killer Guise: √√