Hello again, ghost and ghouls!
Have you ever had the sneaking suspicion that your friends are slowly trying to kill you in order to help you live? If this is the case for you, you should probably get some new friends. This is definitely what Michael should have done when he stumbled across Jacob at a party one night. But you know, it’s fine, at least they gave him a place to stay! An abandoned hospital is a GREAT place to spend your nights, especially when former residents are always coming to visit! Oh, but here’s the catch: they’re dead.
CITY OF DEAD MEN is a horror film that is in one part deja vu, and in another, totally creepy and strange and uncomfortable. Diego Boneta (which I personally know from “Pretty Little Liars”, but who has a pretty decent list of popular shows and films under his belt) plays Michael, a nomad who finds himself in South America trying to find a place to live when he strays too far from home.
He meets Melody (Maria Mesa) who takes him to a party, where it seems like everyone’s got a fun mask to wear, and this one guy runs it all wearing a cool top hot. Jacob (Jackson Rathbone, who most fangirls will know as Jasper from TWILIGHT) is what every guy wants to be: calm, cool and collected, handsome, and mysterious. He’s hiding quite a secret, but it isn’t until Michael has gone too far that he finds out that some secrets are better off being kept.
This film had a few moments in the beginning where I started losing interested (remember, I’m very jaded), and at a point I found myself distracted by other things, but luckily I got kicked into shape when Michael ended up at this party. From then on, a killer soundtrack kept me enthralled while I watched all of the insanity unfurl. Music’s an incredibly important part of horror, you guys (think SINISTER), and CITY OF DEAD MEN does it a little differently…rather than using music that makes you feel uncomfortable, they use music you want to dance to. I was anxious because of the music and the atmosphere because I couldn’t anticipate what would happen next.
Aside from that, the film itself is really interesting. The storyline is kind of a two-in-one, explaining Michael’s past, the history of the hospital, and letting his conflict with Jacob play out. Remember, everyone: if you make a new best friend in 48 hours and they won’t tell you what they’re forcing you to drink, you should probably get right out of there.
There are some parts of the film that start to drop off every once in awhile, i.e. the love connection between Michael and Melody, but not everyone will mind it. It’s subtle and short-lived, which I appreciate, but I prefer my horror romance-free (which is near impossible to get these days with the horror + sex = success algorithm that seems to be the basis of every horror film lately). Jacob is great, however, and is really a pain in the ass to watch. Not because the acting is bad, but because the character is so complex, that you don’t know if you’re supposed to love him or hate him, be attracted to him or want to pull his hair out.
That was my biggest issue with this film: a handful of meaningless characters that should have been developed and weren’t. The “Dead Men” were a handful of characters that could have been really fun to watch knowing their back stories (which I guess you kind of learn at the end of the film), and I wish we could have gotten to know them better. That’s what prequels are for though, right?! City of Men and Women That Aren’t “Dead” Yet?!
I have a feeling that this film is going to be one of those “oh, I never heard about it” types, which is why I’m telling you: make sure you give this one a watch before you forget that you read this review. I can guarantee you haven’t seen anything like it and when you figure out the mystery behind everything transpiring, you’ll thank me for leading you to this place. I was genuinely creeped out to walk around my house for a little while after some of the things that happened in this film.
If any of you read this and end up watching CITY OF DEAD MEN, let me know what you think! I’d love to hear more feedback, as I think this film is going to end up with a pretty small niche of people that absolutely love it, and a LOT of people that say “hey, it was definitely worth it!”
CITY OF DEAD MEN is in select theaters and On Demand on December 16th. Watch it, if you dare, and see if you’re brave enough to join the Dead Men.