Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Ghoul Versus The Asylum's Bound (A 50 Shades Of Grey Mockbuster)

Happy Valentine's Day! What better way to celebrate a holiday based around love and romance than a twisted take on bondage, discipline, domination, and submission?!”

At this point, you should be aware of who The Asylum is. They are a film studio that specialize in “mockbusters”, low budget imitations of big budget Hollywood films that usually end up being better than the films they're inspired by. They've given us films such as the Da Vinci Treasure, Pirates of Treasure Island, Transmorphers, AVH: Alien Vs. Hunter, Paranormal Entity and my personal favourite 11/11/11. That was the equivalent of Darren Lynn Bousman's horror film 11-11-11, their clever change of the title's punctuation has always amused me. Of late, they've gained mainstream recognition thanks to a little franchise called Sharknado, which is ONE HUNDRED PERCENT FUN. Those movies are perfect in what they set out to do, and the upcoming third movie is easily my most anticipated movie of 2015. Yes, even over the new Star Wars film.

In the meantime though, they have bills to pay, hence today's film Bound. This is a mockbuster version of 50 Shades Of Grey, the fictional abortion that has been enjoying an unfathomable amount of popularity since 2012. The story behind its creation is so sad and depressing I could dedicate an entire article to it, but author E.L. James originally conceived the story as Twilight fan fiction between Bella and Edward, originally called Master Of The Universe. For added lulz, James posted it under the nickname Snowqueen's Icedragon, which I believe was the original working name for Evangeline Lilly's character in the Hobbit sequels.

James eventually rewrote her story to be about two “original” characters, and the rest is history. Horrible, horrible history that we'll get to when the movie eventually comes out on blu-ray later this year. Getting back on topic, we've got the Asylum's take on a genre that is outside their usual comfort zone of CGIfests and, uh, CGIfests. So break out your nipple clamps and your whips because it's time for A Ghoul Versus The Asylum's Bound!

We open with Charisma Carpenter having sex with some schlub, looking about as bored as humanly possible. You BETTER know Carpenter from her role as Cordelia Chase from Joss Whedon's Buffyverse consisting of the shows Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel. Not only is she absolutely gorgeous, she's also a fantastic actress that really came into her own with a co-starring role on Angel. The guy finishes and rolls off her, Charisma diplomatically getting him to leave before taking out a vibrator and taking care of herself. Or trying to, as she feels almost nothing. She's bored with sex, you see.

We learn she works with her father at a massive real estate company of some sort, having a seat on the executive board. Her father is played by Daniel Baldwin, who only scores a tepid 1.8 on the Baldwin Brothers Recognition Chart. He has over 100 roles credited to his name, and the only one I've seen him in was John Carpenter's interesting 1998 film Vampires. Things aren't going too well for Charisma here either, as she finds herself unable to speak her mind during important meetings with the other executives. She has no self-confidence, you see.

Charisma goes home to her trillion dollar mansion, drinking some wine while dramatic horror music begins to play. Huh? Am I still watching Friday The 13th?  Her teenage daughter Dara comes home from volleyball and SLAMS... her bag down on the counter. The horror music stops. Okay? I guess it was Dara's theme song, because she's a raging bitch that has zero respect for her mother. They go to dinner at a lavish restaurant, a handsome young man at the bar catching Charisma's eye. He then gets into a brief argument with a woman in a distractingly tight dress and walks across the room, cranking up the slow motion so Charisma can ogle him further. I guess this flusters Charisma so she leaves without getting her credit card, driving back to the restaurant to get it and hopefully the Incredible Hunk's digits. I also want to point out the scene where she gets back into her car is filmed at such an EXTREMELY tilted angle I got vertigo watching it.

Sure enough the Hunk is still there, asking Charisma to join him for a drink. He introduces himself as Ryan and Charisma says her name is Michelle, which is the first time her character name has been mentioned so far. The film's only been going for eight minutes though, so I won't hold it against them too much. Ryan hits on her with this AWESOME line:

“Have a cigarette with me.”
“Um, I don't smoke.”
“Yeah, you do.”

AND THAT WORKS! Michelle joins him at a table while he rolls a cigarette, which she confesses she wouldn't know what to do with. He tells her to “suck and blow”, which causes her to give him an exasperated look. Why did she do that? I rewound that scene several times and couldn't find a double meaning of ANY kind. They start making out, Michelle stopping him before it goes too far. She goes to leave but he stops her and gives her his phone number, so MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. The next morning at work she gives a killer presentation, almost as if her brief tryst with Ryan has awakened something... more powerful in her?

Later that night Michelle is about to call Ryan when the schlub drops by with Chinese food, and WOW is he a loser. He talks about taking their relationship to the next level, but she kicks him to the curb because, come on, Ryan is on deck! As a side note, schlub's actor is played by Mark McClain Wilson, who has an acting credit in the long lost horror film the Poughkeepsie Tapes. You may remember the title as it had a rather aggressive marketing campaign in 2007, and then mysteriously vanished, never to be released. It became notorious thanks to its VERY chilling trailers, but no reason was ever given why it never came out. It had a brief run on Video On Demand in 2014 but then was pulled almost immediately, its director quoted in an interview saying it was yanked because a “multi-platform” release was being planned. Well, that was July and still no word on its future, so who knows?

And now back to the review. At work, Michelle attempts to call Ryan again but gets interrupted by a business call. Ryan's number is 818-260-9811 in case you want to give him a call and smoke hand rolled cigarettes with him. The call is from a potential business partner who wants to meet her for lunch to discuss profit margins, which she readily agrees to. Ryan then calls her and asks HER out to lunch, which she also agrees to after checking the clock. This scene just goes to prove women can be every bit as dumb as men when they think with their genitals instead of their brains.

Ryan's lunch date is a bit unorthodox as it's a poolside shoot featuring bikini models with TERRELL OWENS in attendance. Yes, THE Terrell Owens, a six time NFL wide receiver who has the second most receiving yards in history, the third most receiving touchdowns in history, and probably the most controversies caused in a single career. And now he's in a 50 Shades Of Grey knockoff. Ryan offers Michelle a glass of wine, but she tells him she doesn't drink in the afternoon.

“Yeah, you do.”

Boy, Ryan sure is domineering and commanding! I wonder if this is meant to foreshadow his BDSM proclivities or something. Michelle relents under this insanely powerful line and starts drinking. She ends up calling her assistant to push back the multimillion dollar meeting that's she's been working ALL MOVIE to land because it's make or break for her company, going for a drive with Ryan to... her office? THAT'S the place you chose? They start kissing again, but Ryan stops and decides it'd be much better to do this in her father's office. Michelle obliges him because she is now officially the Greatest Decision Maker in the world. Ryan starts talking about how she's a daddy's girl in a manner that's supposed to be erotic, but just comes off really creepy.

Things continue to steamroll downhill as Ryan begins to go down on her as she sits on her father's desk, then he pulls a pair of panties out of her pocket and demands she put them on because she's a “dirty little slut”. AND MICHELLE OBEYS! Holy shit, this is kind of fucked up. He then informs her he'll continue to train her the next day, but she tells him she has a fundraiser to attend. He invites himself along, saying he is now her father, her master, her husband, and her God. Instead of recoiling in sheer terror and calling security on this psychopath, she accompanies him to an underground extreme fetish club. Ryan tries to have sex with her in a hallway with a freak spiked mask watching, but Michelle stops him by yelling out the word “red”. Is that their safe word, then? Did I miss the scene where this was established, or is this just a thing that everyone else but me knows about?

They end up going to Ryan's chamber of horrors, which looks more like one of Jigsaw's survival tests than a sex dungeon. Of course Michelle goes along with it, stripping naked and put through the S and M ringer until Ryan starts having sex with her. For some reason this scene is shot with distortion effects like a David Lynch movie, because its MUCH hotter that way... right? Guys? After they're done Michelle brings up how she knows NOTHING about this maniac but he just sits there smoking. All I can think about is how strange it is to see smoking in a modern day movie, it's so rare these days it really stands out. She concludes that she likes him, because what woman could possibly resist his gentlemanly charms?

Schlub comes by Michelle's house again, and not because he can't take a hint but when the hell is an also-ran like him going to land a lady like Charisma Carpenter? Michelle tells him she's seeing someone else now and he almost starts crying, but I don't even have the time to make fun of him because the entire shot is film with DUTCH ANGLES. WHY?! Dutch angles are meant to convey tension by putting the shot in an uneven perspective, which is reflective of a character's state of mind or environment. This is just Michelle dumping some clingy nerd. She's fully aware of what she's doing and there is no dramatic breakthrough here whatsoever.

Psychoboy indeed goes to the fundraiser with Michelle, giving her a remote control vibrator that he tells her to put inside her. She rolls with it as do I, because this is a setup for some COMEDY PLATINUM. He activates it during her father's impassioned speech to the donors, but sadly we don't get a hilarious reaction. DAMMIT MOVIE, how do you fuck that up?! Ryan drags her into the bathroom for a gropefest, making her put on lipstick and calls herself a messy whore. I fully expect Michelle Milan to become a feminist icon within the next few months, she's furthering women's rights by DECADES. They return to the party, but Ryan won't let her fix the messy lipstick now on her face so now she gets to face her father and all these millionaires looking like she just crawled out of a porno. It gets even better though! Jesse, the man she blew off, is there and he's PISSED about her flaking out on him. Ryan throws gasoline on the fire by acting like a complete asshole to him, so Michelle quickly tries to get things back on track by discussing business.

This seems like a good time as any for Ryan to turn on the vibrator again, and how weird is it he's a more compelling horror villain than the purported love interest of a sexual thriller? Jesse agrees to give her one more chance, because every character in this movie is fucking moron. After they leave Michelle actually grows a backbone and yells at Ryan for trying to ruin her life, but he just like amused and tells her not to talk to him like that. I'm surprised he didn't just hit here right there. That night she goes home to watch tutorials about spanking, the dominatrix in the video bringing up safe words for the first time in this thing despite Michelle having used one earlier.

Her father calls her into his office at work, where he reveals he knows who Ryan is: a drug dealer and a car thief. Michelle shrugs this off, because at this point he could have said Ryan was a necrophiliac serial killer and it wouldn't have phased her. Her father gives her ONE MORE CHANCE to close the deal she's working on before he sells the company... or whatever, none of this is important at all. One night after a scene of completely straightforward sex with Ryan, she asks if he's ever been a submissive.


Fountain of information, this one! She asks if he was a submissive with Alana, to which he replies SHE was a psychopath. Waitaminute, who the fuck is Alana? Oh, the woman at the bar that they've never, EVER discussed let alone named? Okay. OH, Alana was ALSO the dominatrix in the spanking video! That's... one hell of a coincidence. Ryan kicks her out, getting slightly violent with her in the process. Oh, how I want to see this guy eat a curb stomp.

Michelle goes shopping for some bondage gear and hits up the club from earlier, where she gets into a conversation with a leather clad mistress who warns her about Ryan. It seems her has a history of fucking up the lives of his submissives, and NO WAY?! I do believe this qualifies as a plot twist, because I sure as hell didn't see that coming! The woman says Ryan gives their kind a bad name, as he does not represent their BDSM culture in the slightest. This might as well be the film's screenwriter talking to us directly for as blunt as the scene is. She ends up taking Michelle over to the whipping room, where she gets to beat a leather clad gimp with a riding crop. She likes it!

She comes home to find Ryan about to have sex with a tied up Dara, who was unaware that Ryan was seeing her mother. Ryan just laughs at all of this, Michelle threatening to call the cops on him unless he gets the fuck out. He starts to strangle her but she bites his hand and he finally leaves. Well, this is just a trainwreck of epic proportions. Work doesn't go so hot for her either, as her father has decided to sell the company instead of waiting for her to finish her deal. She gets sent home for the day, deciding to drive to Ryan's and PUNCH HIM IN THE FUCKING FACE! HELLS YEAH! They start beating the shit out of each, and this movie has gotten completely awesome. Michelle grabs a camera mounted on a tripod and smashes it again Ryan's face, knocking him out. Stomp him stomp him STOMP HIM!

Ryan awakes, chained up in his dungeon with Michelle calmly sitting before him. She said she considered calling the cops on him since Dara is under-aged, but has decided to torture the loving shit out of him instead as a warning to stay away from her family. She unties him and walks away, mentioning she DID call the police about Dara. That demon conquered, a SUPER ASSERTIVE Michelle goes to Jesse's office and FUCKING KILLS IT. BDSM powers, activate! She closes the deal and makes all the money in the world, but wait, THERE'S MORE! After the meeting Jesse asks her out to dinner, but she wonders if he wouldn't like something a little more... kinky? She pulls closer by the tie, and he responds with a breathy “Yes mistress!”. PROFESSIONALISM!

Cue the credits.

You know, this is pretty much exactly how 50 Shades Of Grey should have gone. Yes, I've read the book. Yes, I'm not proud of that. Yes, I'm scarred for life by what I read. Just like Ryan, Christian Grey was a sadistic psychopath who tried to exert excessive control on the life of his submissive, Ana Steele. Ana realizes at the end they're incompatible and leaves him, but is very heartbroken and torn up over it. I MUCH preferred the Asylum's take on the story, with the heroine getting a fucking clue and kicking the crap out of the overly entitled predator because seriously, FUCK Christian Grey.

Make no mistake, this was FAR from a good movie but I'll admit I was vested the entire time and never got bored, which is a fair amount of praise when you think about it.  Things that were happening were just too fucked up and comical NOT to get some enjoyment out of.  This is one of those movies where you spend the entire time rooting for character to stop being a brain-dead idiot and start using some common sense, so when that actually happens its a rewarding payoff, in this case an EXTREMELY rewarding one. Charisma Carpenter absolutely carried this movie, it was not a performance I'd put on her highlight reel but she still put in more effort than anyone else in the cast did. Daniel Baldwin was laugh out loud funny here, as he made the bold decision to channel William Shatner and deliver every line with MASSIVE pauses every few words.

I will single out the camera work as being atrocious, it's like they wanted to go for every experimental style possible because... I guess they were bored? I suppose when that's my biggest complaint about the movie, you haven't done that bad of a job. Other than rabid Charisma Carpenter fans like myself I'm not sure who I'd recommend this to, I suppose anyone who wants to see some smug rich asshole get his comeuppance in a satisfyingly violent manner because the ending is rather beautiful.