August 31, 2008

Epitaph: A Few Final Words on the Death of Narrative

They may do it with a bloody knife (and a bloody scalpel and a bloody skewer) but the Jung Brothers spread the Art on so thick for Epitaph, their feature debut, that they also wipe the scares clean off the screen. As you await the next tastefully staged composition (and you will have to wait), you'll be doubtlessly questioning whether this really is a horror pic or simply a ghost story in which all dead people are cursed to become cryptic symbols instead of creepy spooks at the picturesque hospital. That distraught tween patient who bursts into screams periodically isn't frightened; she's confounded by the snail's pace of the experience (and the recurring snail imagery) as well as the outright theft of Bernard Hermann's signature Psycho screeching sounds. Esthetes may swoon over the tableaux vivants staged in front of sliding screens or the artsy ways in which blood flows over tile or onto snow. Yet for those too, a caveat: It's hard to stay awake. A snoozer if ever there was one, Epitaph's final revelation that the man possessed by the spirit of his dead wife is actually the woman possessed by the spirit of her dead husband inspires yawns of horror. D.O.A. R.I.P.

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