This is what the lovefilm warehouse is like: between 6 and 11am, when your account reads “Awaiting allocation”, the staff are whizzing around on tricycles, personally selecting each film to be dispatched to each customer. Of the 800 staff that lovefilm employ, all of them lovefilm, all have nimble fingers, some of them are little people, and all have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the UK DVD market, from Ashes and Diamonds (available), to Mr Nanny (unavailable), to The Haunted Mansion (available – likely long wait). Many of them have also had a lifelong desire to work in the motion picture industry, and they are now fulfilling that dream in a very roundabout way.
Although the staff there lovefilm, they don’t necessarily lovejob, so, from time to time, they amuse themselves by sending out bizarre double bills, or selecting some unlucky customers for a long row of duds ( a “Duddley More series” – as in, “Shall we send him a Duddley More series?”) After the staff finish work and the postman’s van splutters away from the warehouse, they go into the tea room, crack open the digestives and swap stories about their latest wheezes and wind-ups.*
I fear I may have lost you. What am I on about, and why? Well, when I started kinolondon’s “Stick it on your Love Film List” series back in May, I fully intended it to be a regular slot for slightly off-the-wall recommendations—unaware that it was dependent on not being the subject of a Duddley More series. As it is, I’ve not been sent anything good and obscure for some time (Herschell Gordon Lewis films notwithstanding) and, it looked like no end was in sight…. until yesterday.
Case 39, a psycho-kid thriller starring Renee Zellweger and Ian McShane, was the subject of a sneering trailer review in The Guardian a few weeks ago—in spite of the fact that Bradshaw had given it four stars back in March, and it was already out on DVD. And, even though it was made in 2007, it’s still not seen the light of day in cinemas across the pond. Why? Perhaps because it’s too scary.
It’s not REALLY too scary. It’s probably too daft but regardless, it’s one of the most entertaining films I’ve seen for a while. I’ll briefly SUMMARISE it, so you can see whether it’s something you’re interested in: Zellweger plays a social worker who saves children from abusive parents. After rescuing a little girl from being roasted ALIVE, she takes the girl home and they live together. The little girl turns out to be a thoroughly nasty piece of WORK WHO is capable of all kinds of things that normal kids cannot do ( such as manipulating social workers into adopting them, making hornets come out of people’s mouths etc.). Zellweger starts to freak out, BUT NOBODY believes her. “Why is she being nasty to that sweet little girl that she forced us to let her adopt” think her colleagues, or at least, those do who aren’t dying in accidents. Zellweger starts to think that the girl’s parents, who she got banged up at the start, might not be so crazy after all. Add a plot like that to the fact that you have LOADS OF UNEXPECTED SHOCKS BUILT INTO INNOCUOUS MOMENTS, for example, A DOG BANGING UP AGAINST A WINDOW!, and you’ve got a hit on your hands.
Sounds dreadful, doesn’t it? As I’ve mentioned, I was totally rapt. Case 39 isn’t a pleasant film. It feels like anything can happen—as long as it abides by all the Hollywood psycho-thriller cliches you’ve seen a million times before, in Pacific Heights, Fatal Attraction and The Hand that Rocks the Cradle. What Case 39 does brilliantly is string lots of sledgehammer moments together, willy nilly and, if you accept the very Hollywood universe that the film operates in, you might—like me—actually be quite scared.
So, it’s slick, enjoyable, tense and yet, total bollocks. Stick it on your lovefilm list.
(* – This may not be what the lovefilm warehouse is actually like.)