How does one describe a cheap, poorly done, direct-to-video rip-off like Amusement? Well, for starters, I suppose one could call it a cheap, poorly-done flick and then go on to point out that it’s nothing more than a direct-to-video rip-off of other (and often better) horror/slasher films.
At times, Amusement almost seems like it was attempting to channel the spirit of the classic anthology horror film genre: the movie jumps from one girl to another, telling us (the uninterested viewers) how these poor dolts managed to get kidnapped by a laugh-happy mass murdering maniac.
Each segment manages to waste a good quarter of the movie (what we like to call “padding”), and while this method of moviemaking may be misinterpreted as artistic or original (it isn’t), the volatile mix of John Simpson’s inept direction and Jake Wade Wall’s ham-fisted writing completely ruins any effect or atmosphere that was supposed to be present.
It also makes you wonder if they had enough material for one movie or not.
Okay, so back to my personal source of amusement: the laugh-happy mass murdering maniac. Not only is the actor who plays him (Keir O’Donnell) outright wrong for the part (he comes off as trying way too hard to be something sinister when he just doesn’t have it to begin with), but the character is referred to in the credits as (drum roll, please) “The Laugh.”
Talk about a name that will surely go down in history as the Dumbest Handle for a Cinematic Psychopath Ever.
Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter.
Shakes the Clown.
And now, “The Laugh.”
Having spent a majority of his life in a nuthouse (or so we gather; the movie isn’t as into its story or character development as much as it is adamant about depicting people walking around and looking at things), “The Laugh” has somehow managed to locate and convert a gigantic underground lair with all sorts of dark and twisted thingamabobs, most of which have gears and cranks and stuff.
“The Laugh” has also learned a number of otherworldly gifts such as the ability to be in several places at once, change his appearance with make-up in seconds flat, and even persuade the powers of fate to draw his victims towards him. And yet he still can’t come up with a better name than “The Laugh.”
Bottom line, kids: Amusement is one of the dumbest and most pathetic excuses for a horror/slasher film in decades (though it works well as a comedy) and manages to make The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation look like The Silence Of The Lambs by comparison. Not only is the film’s direction and writing piss-poor, but the acting is decidedly stilted and wooden as well. The main actresses (Katheryn Winnick, Laura Breckenridge, and Jessica Lucas – the latter of whom has done and can do better) turn in performances that range from bad to good (somebody put Jessica back on CSI dammit), while O’Donnell is just plain irritating.
On Blu-ray, Amusement looks and sounds fairly well: the 2.40:1 widescreen presentation comes through as clear as day, but due to the movie’s low-budget roots, it isn’t what you’d call perfect. The sound is another story, though. We’re given the option of an English 5.1 DD or 5.1 TrueHD track, but neither is really satisfactory when it comes to utilizing all of your speakers.
No Special Features are included on this release, which is a blessing because if I had to watch or listen to the filmmakers pat themselves on the back and tell each other what a great job they did on Amusement, I would have to write a totally mean review on it, slamming the filmmakers for the untalented hacks they truly are.