There is a time in every burgeoning filmmaker’s life when he has to step up and show the world what he’s made of. After years of staying up late shooting amateur films with friends, the young filmmaker will decide he has a vision; a defining statement that not only changes people’s view of the world but also validates the filmmaker’s desire to pursue a career in the cinematic arts. Many people will make a personal film that speaks from their soul. Others will fall in love with genre fare and try to put their own spin on tried and tested subjects, like horror. This is the road that director Boris Pavloski took and Granny is his sole cinematic statement to the world.
It’s also completely rubbish.
USA, 1999, Boris Pavlosky
It’s a solid opening sequence in its own crappy way and definitely sets the tone for what’s to come over the remaining sixty minutes. We quickly find out that these characters are actually throwing the most awkward graduation party of all time. They say graduation but there’s no way in hell these people graduated from anywhere recently. In fact, this is less of a graduation party and more after-office drinks with colleagues that have nothing in common with each other.
There is the hockey playing doofus, Jason (David Coleman). The slut, Natalie (Rebecca O’Marrah). The passive aggressive nerd, Vic (T.J. Bigbee). The comedian, Pete (John Stoops). The sensible one, Monica (Annemieke Van Der Meer). The deviant, Tom (played the eponymous Tomi, who’s also credited with the pretty catchy soundtrack). The boring, pretty girl, Kristine (Nathalie Ohnena). And lastly, the virgin, Michelle (Katie Dugan).
They’re a strange bunch who have almost nothing in common with each other. Not only that, but despite saying this is a graduation party, they also explain that it’s an induction ceremony for Michelle to enter their group. Apparently she just moved from Seattle to Chicago and just met these weirdos, so where she’s graduating from I have no idea.
The party moves into the living room where the group engage in some of the worst written dialogue I’ve ever heard. ‘Hey guys, lets talk about sex’; ‘Hey guys, let’s talk about misogyny’; ‘Hey, let’s talk about something provocative’; ‘Hey guys, let’s talk about our paranoias’. The scene awkwardly goes on and on like this for about twenty minutes while the characters politely sip light beer. There isn’t even any music playing, despite a piano being in the room with them. This party sucks.
Finally things pick up when the characters hear a noise in the basement. The hockey playing doofus, Jason, goes to check it out. In the basement he finds somebody in a nighty, wearing an old lady mask. Before Jason can find out who it is, the old lady pulls out an axe and smashes him over the head with it, splattering his brains all over the wall.
From here on we’re in classic slasher flick territory and the film almost becomes watchable. At least three of the characters are earmarked early on as potential murderers and director/writer Povloski handles the red herrings well. He’s obviously clued up on what makes the genre fun and exploits that. It’s just a shame he doesn’t know how to articulate that knowledge into a watchable movie.
The effects are kind of rubbish but they’re bloody and quite effective considering the budget so kudos for that. In fact, the kills themselves are all quite fun and bloody, if lacking in originality. Most of what happens can be referenced back to classic films of the genre, such as Halloween, but there is a pervading sense of reverence towards the genre so the references didn’t bother me in the slightest. Povloski and his cast all seem to be having an absurd amount of fun and you can feel this during some of the kills – especially this one.
The turn of events is kind of predictable until a series of twists during the final reel undo everything that’s come before, ending the movie abruptly. At a mere 58 minutes, Granny feels extremely rushed during the finale, making an already ludicrous outcome completely impossible to swallow. It’s a shame because while Povloski isn’t a very good filmmaker, he almost pulls it off. While Granny isn’t a good movie by any means, it reminded me of the short films I used to make with my friends as a kid and on that level it won me over.
Boris Povloski never made another movie after Granny (that I know of) and that’s a shame because I had fun with it. Perhaps bad reviews scared him away. Perhaps he decided making proper films wasn’t as fun as shooting camcorder vids in his back yard. Maybe his parents wouldn’t let him make movies in the family home anymore because he got blood all over the carpet and walls. Or, perhaps Granny said everything he wanted to as a filmmaker. That final suggestion is unlikely but I’d like to think it was the truth.
Granny is available to pick up for dirt cheap on Amazon.