Thursday, October 16, 2014

Movie #277: Idle Hands

Idle Hands is a 1999 horror/comedy starring Devon Sawa, Jessica Alba, Seth Green, Elden Henson, Jake Noseworthy, Vivica A. Fox, and Christopher Hart. It's...not great, but it's watchable.

Anton (Sawa) is a lazy prick. He spends his days on his couch, in his room/attic, skipping school and smoking week, or hanging out with his buds Mick (Green) and Pnub (Henson). His parents (Fred Willard and Connie Ray) seem to be somewhat in denial, but it doesn't much matter because they die in the first 10 minutes of the movie. See, there's a killer loose in the tiny California town in which Anton and his friends live, although Anton hasn't noticed. Which is odd, because Anton is the killer.

Anton's right hand is possessed by an unspecified evil force, and it makes him kill. He murders Mick and Pnub when they realize the truth, but they come back as zombies because walking into the light was too much effort. In the midst of all this, Anton finds time to woo his longtime crush, Molly (Alba), whom the evil hand wants as a sacrifice. And then there's a druid priestess (Fox) who teams up with Anton's motorhead neighbor (Noseworthy) to find and excise the evil.

The title references the adage "idle hands are the Devil's plaything," and Anton interprets that as an admonition to keep his hands busy, but that line of logic kind of peters out. Really, the movie is a low-grade slasher flick, made tolerable because it moves quickly and the interplay between Anton and his zombies friends is fun to watch. (Easily the best moment belongs to Green; when Anton starts in on his moment of redemption, saying he's tired of wasting his life, Mick responds, "Oh, god, no Kevin Costner speeches, let's just go.")

Slasher movies always have some problematic content, usually around women, and this one is no exception. The movie tries to give Molly a personality, and I appreciate that. She's unabashedly sex-positive; she invites Anton in, clearly with the intent of jumping him, but only actually does it when the hand forces him to grope her. That's a little skeevy, but there's no real hesitation on her part, either, so eh. It could be worse (and usually is). She winds up damsel'd, of course, but on the other hand, the righteous warrior who tracks down the evil and slays it is the priestess, so again, could be worse. For the record, one of the writers and two of the producers are women, which might have mitigated some of the sexist bullshit you'd otherwise see. The movie fails the Bechdel, incidentally (two female characters, Molly and Tanya [Katie Wright] talk, but they talk about Anton and Pnub, and Tanya gets cut to hamburger shortly thereafter).

Also of note is Christopher Hart, aka Thing from the Addams Family movies, as the evil hand.

My grade: C+
Rewatch value: Medium high

Next up: In Bruges