The paranormal pest control pairing that is Desmond & Jake (Greg Garrison & D. Dylan Schettina) come to the rescue when down-on-her-luck Allison Hillstead (Marie Barker) finds that her home has been invaded by some strange and hostile supernatural beings.
As I clicked on this particular screener link I carried with me a little ray of hope as the director of the movie I was about to see had previously worked on a project that I had actually seen, one that I even own on DVD. I say little because that project was Dante the Great from V/H/S Viral (2014) – the black sheep of the freaky found footage franchise. Still…hope was there. Alas, by the 12th minute of Torey Haas’ The Neon Dead that hope had been completely extinguished.
Bearing in mind that the multi-talented Haas came with a stronger history working in the visual effects department, it’s clear that he has gone into this project with this familiar artistic aesthetic in mind at the expense of more pressing matters. Hence why the acting is beyond terrible – and I’m talking the condescending tones of a children’s pantomime kind of terrible - while his glow-in-the-dark monsters appear so ghoulishly wonderful that they put one in mind of the luminous creatures you may find lurking in the underground lair of Oogie Boogie of The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993).
But as much as the greens, the reds, the blues, all the pretty colours in the dark scream Dario Argento’s Suspiria (1977), the fact that The Neon Dead certainly isn’t – and just never could be – only further highlights its shortcomings, which are far more glaring than any electric blue grin or laser red smile. And why? Because none of this hocus pocus makes up how desperately unfunny this movie is.
That, and you can’t shake the feeling that one of the ghouls could tear away their costume at any moment to say, “And I would’ve gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for you meddling kids!” - “Rooby Rooby Doo!” - Erm, no actually – Rooby Rooby Don’t!
Have you ever watched a movie so utterly lame that you can literally feel your loathing for it in your bones? That is exactly how much The Neon Dead sucks ass. Still you may find yourself drawn in by that one Dario-esque shot of Marie Barker in which she looks like a young Uma Thurman. Further testament that the movie only has visual appeal. The rest is just a nightmare. Probably not the kind that Haas was hoping for…