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Superman’s a perv: “Maneater”

December 24, 2011

Just so you don’t get confused, this is a totally different Maneater  than the movie I reviewed in 2008. That was your basic SyFy “monster-eats-people-for-85-minutes-until-washed-up-actor-kills-it” movie, only the monster was a common Bengal tiger, which, you know, is scary, but you gotta admit is no Sharktopus. No, this movie is much crazier. Not crazy in a good way, but crazy in a “God, I hope the writer/director of this flick gets a lot of therapy…and that I never somehow marry into his family.”  This Maneater is a straight-out monster movie with a very, very disturbing subtext. And that subtext is: women are all duplicitous, knob-craving, succubae that think only with their vaginas.  Oh, and did I say subtext?  Yeah, it’s subtext the way that the USS George Washington aircraft carrier is a submarine because some of it is underwater.

Maneater stars Dean Cain—remember him? He was famous a couple decades back for playing Superman. You know, before Brandon Routh. And this new British guy. Anyway, he’s in this movie and he plays, Harry, a sheriff of a small town in, uh…I dunno…someplace in the woods. Well, Harry has a bad history as a former FBI profiler—you may remember those. They were popular around the same time Cain was Superman. And as portrayed in TV and movies, they’re basically mediums, who have visions of how a crime occurred by skulking around the crime scene.

Harry’s powers of deductions-via-seizure get a workout when a couple is savagely attacked while camping. The man is severely burned, and the woman is gone. Harry’s visions shows him that the couple were having some decidedly non-missionary sex. So, I guess Harry’s abilities also give him, like, psychic voyeur power. Anyway, he figures out that whatever attacked the couple couldn’t be a bear (the working theory), but something more ominous.

Speaking of ominous, Harry’s in a bad state. Let’s run down his problems. 1) His wife left him while cheating on him with one of his FBI buddies. She took off one night and never came back. 2) His teenage daughter, Pearl is discovering boys, and this is driving Harry apeshit crazy (more on this later). 3) he is having dreams of a strange, savage creature slaughtering people. And he might be one with that creature. So, yeah, this wingnut is our hero.

So, much of the movie is about Harry and his police force—it consists of a moron pervert and  an elderly Native American—investigating the rash of brutal murders that suddenly strike the town. Given his police force, you can probably imagine they don’t make much headway. At least not until Harry abandons your basic police work and looks into his weird-ass dreams and visions and tries to identify the creature they contain that has glowing blue eyes.

Turns out the thing Harry keeps seeing is a Wendigo, or “Skinwalker” (yeah, don’t see that movie, either). Okay, so as near as I can tell, a skinwalker is a shape-shifting monster that punishes the deceitful, and the impure. It’s like the id monster, if the id monster solely keyed in on sexual anxieties. Maybe it’s Eric Schaeffer‘s id monster.

And that brings us to the B-plot, where this movie’s real craziness kicks in. Harry’s daughter , Pearl, has a new boyfriend, and Harry is obsessed with the notion that she might give up her special flower to this kid. Now, in the movie’s defense, while Pearl and whatever her bland boyfriend’s name is are pretty chaste, her nubile friends are all, well, knob-craving succubae who flash their tits for no reason and are about as obsessed with sex as your average 13 year-old boy. Also, they get naked whenever the movie starts to drag (read: a lot).

As the movie goes on, Harry’s behavior gets more and more disturbing. I mean, from jump street, we know Harry’s off. He keeps the house precisely the same as when his wife left and freaks the fuck out whenever the smallest thing is disturbed, believing intensely—one might say, psychotically—that she will return someday.  On top of that he does stuff like have his pervy deputy peep on his daughter’s doings through his house’s window (thus, providing Deputy Degenerate with some prime spank-material when one of Pearl’s sluttier friends bangs her boyfriend).

On top of that, he barely sleeps, and when he does his dreams suggest he may be the Wendigo. He has a series of fights with his daughter in which he basically accuses her of being a filthy whore. He never actually says this…oh, wait, I think he does. In one of the more disturbing dream-sequences, he threatens Pearl with a butcher knife and tells her he’s going to “cut the bad place out of her” (holy fuck, I don’t want to know where the “bad place” is on the human body). Oh, and after one dream, he finds the shallow grave where his wife his buried.

Okay, so at this point we really only have two options. Either Harry is the Wendigo or he’s the worst father ever. Interestingly, the movie takes the second route, establishing the old Native American as the Wendigo and killing him off. Seems he also murdered Harry’s wife, because she was a filthy adulteress, and the other people he killed were all fornicators (something tells me Wendigos are big fans of Pat Robertson). Harry kills the Wendigo and everything’s okay.

Ahhh…except for the fact that Harry is still a lunatic obsessed with his daughter’s sexuality.  So, you see what I mean about these filmmakers needing lots and lots of therapy. Or maybe they just need to get laid. No, something tells me that would make things worse.

What else do we have?

* It’s a good time to point out that criminal profiling has more or less been debunked.

* Pearl’s friend blithely says, apropos of nothing, “I think I’m going to let [my boyfriend] spank me tonight.” Who talks this way? I mean, outside the imaginations of horny middle-aged screenwriters?

* The severely burned guy they find at the beginning isn’t immediately rushed to the hospital where they can, I don’t know, maybe put him in the burn unit. No, instead, he’s kept on a gurney in the Sheriff’s office. This is just about the point I began to suspect that Harry doesn’t head up the most professional police force in the world.

* If you’re going to send someone to peep on your daughter (you shouldn’t, really), don’t send the sexual deviant who’s going to clear the snorkel while on this perverted surveillance mission.

* There’s a hilarious scene where the kids kill a bear believed to be responsible for the attacks, and the thing is so clearly a puppet it makes Fozzie Bear look like something out of Avatar.

* Wendigos eat their own skin. Seriously. They nibble it off when in human form. Goddamn, these monsters suck.

* The Native American deputy was born in 1930. Is it wise to have a deputy who is north of 80?

* Wendigos have hearts of ice. Literally, ice. This is pretty stupid, but then again, these things eat their own skin, so…

* Early on, Harry places his hand on Pearl’s bare thigh in such a decidedly non-paternal way…aw man, I so need a shower right now.

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