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Anchor Bay presents

It Waits (2005)

"I've been feeling like I've been having this premonition or something that there's some sort of evil darkness closing in on me and I'm not going to be able to handle it."- Danielle St. Claire (Cerina Vincent)

Stars: Cerina Vincent
Other Stars: Dominic Zamprogna, Greg Kean, Eric Schweig, Miranda Frigon, Fred Henderson, Chilton Crane, Austin Jordon
Director: Steven R. Monroe

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (some horror violence, language)
Run Time: 01h:27m:36s
Release Date: 2006-05-23
Genre: horror

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- C-BB- C+


DVD Review

It Waits is the latest production from the highly successful and schlocky Stephen J. Cannell (A-Team, Hunter, Hardcastle and McCormick), and it represents yet another dip into the horror pool, coming after the disappointing Blade-meets-Buffy stylings of Demon Hunter. The good news is—though not perfect—It Waits is big improvement from the Cannell camp. But I'll heap the kudos for that solely on director Steven R. Monroe, who was able to take a largely pointless screenplay and deliver a horror film that has the properly spooky looking genre veneer, much like he did with the watchable Saw II-clone House of 9.

The featured creature is a resurrected demon of some sort, seeped in some mumbo-jumbo Native American mysticism and lurking about deep in the forest somewhere, occasionally munching on cave explorers or lost hikers and leaving weirdly whimsical tableaus of corpses for people to find. And it just so happens that the hungry demon's stomping grounds are right near the remote forest ranger station of Danny St. Claire (Cerina Vincent), a vodka-swilling beauty with, let's say, a troubled past. A series of convenient events prevents Danny from having outside radio contact, setting the woodland stage for a series of horrific encounters, all leading up to big battle royale.

So far, all of this sounds tolerable, and it mostly is, even as the teleplay from Richard Christian Matheson and Thomas E. Szollosi (with a bit of Cannell's touch, as well) doesn't really offer anything grandiose other than a victim here or there. What that leaves us is the presence of Cerina Vincent. As an actress, she's fine and dandy within the confines of talking to herself (I mean, to her parrot), looking frightened, and stalking B-film evil. She is certainly easy on the eyeballs, especially decked out in a skin-tight, low-cut white t-shirt, but she seems 100 percent out of place in the deep woods, and at no point could I ever wrap my head around the concept that she chose this career. But maybe I think too much.

And to answer that unspoken question—she does not appear nude, which seems to violate a basic horror movie tenet, especially when the lead's most infamous role was a character who never wore a stitch (Not Another Teen Movie). The very foundation of B-movie horror is a bit of gore and a few boobs—always makes a forgettable film a little more palatable, and while nudity alone couldn't save It Waits, I think it goes without saying that it couldn't hurt. Look, I don't make the rules, okay?

There's blathering about scrambled karma and negative energy throughout as the confrontations escalate between Danny-the-busty-forest-ranger and an ancient demon. I found it truly disheartening that the big mano-a-mano scene has a television cop show feel to it, but that's the tug of Cannell's hand on this one. Director Monroe makes the most of a tepid script, and shows a talent for knowing how to make something at least look and sound like a horror film most of the time. Sure, no skin, but there are jump scares, noises in the dark, and a few severed limbs, so almost all of the visual trappings are here. But what's left seems sadly incomplete. Monroe has the potential to take it to the next level as a horror It Waits doesn't quite do it.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.77:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Anchor Bay generally comes through with decent transfers, and the 1.77:1 anamorphic widescreen offering here is not bad (especially given that It Waits is what would be considered a B-film) with fleshtones and colors looking lifelike throughout, even though the palette is a bit on the rustic side. Atmospheric details like smoke, breath, and ground fog look very striking, with no evidence of pixellating, and though there are some slight grain issues, overall the transfer is well-defined. The night sequences have fairly strong black levels, enough so that there is never the sense of "what was that?" so prevalent in a lot of B-movies.

Image Transfer Grade: B

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: There are two audio choices available here, in either Dolby Digital 5.1 or 2.0 surround. There isn't much variance between the two, unfortunately, and the 5.1 track never quite lives up to its potential. There isn't any dramatic sense of depth or spatial movement to speak of, though voice quality is perfectly clean at all times. The opening moments have some moderately punchy sub activity, as does the big climax, but the in-between moments seem more subdued than they should. Rear channels get used extremely minimally, another shortcoming for a horror film set in the woods.

Audio Transfer Grade: B- 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Room 6, All Soul's Day, Demon Hunter
1 Documentaries
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Steven R. Monroe, Cerina Vincent
Packaging: Amaray with slipcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Anchor Bay does a nice job dressing up a second-tier title, issuing It Waits with a slipcover depicting a slightly embossed image of the creature, which is a little more direct than the somewhat more artistic coverart on the inner case of a backlit figure. The disc is cut into 16 chapters, with no subtitle options.

Extras include a few trailers and Blood On The Pines (20m:57s), a sort of frothy EPK featuring all theprinciples (including Stephen J. Cannell) discussing the rigors of the 20-day shoot, designing the creature FX, and Cerina Vincent's "leg-gina" wound. The piece is also notable for Vincent's insightful comment, "Canadians are awesome".

Also included is a commentary track from director Steven R. Monroe and Cerina Vincent (at least for a while); they spend the bulk of the time speaking about the locations, with lots of chuckles. Monroe has the occasional unique story, such as how to have a character pulling a dismembered torso off a roof not end being funny, and to his credit he is very up front about the good and bad of the production.

Extras Grade: C+

Final Comments

I was really holding out hope for It Waits, despite the formidable by-the-numbers presence of Stephen J. Cannell as producer and co-writer. I enjoyed Steven R. Monroe's House of 9, and the prospect of Cerina Vincent as tight-tanktop-wearing forest ranger tormented by an ancient demon sure seemed promising, but something here was lacking. And that gap came in the script, which is threadbare and skimpy at best.

Monroe does a solid job proffering some textbook scares, at least from a visual standpoint, but he's left trying to dress up an anemic story into something that never really makes any sense.

Rich Rosell 2006-05-15