Well, the rumors are true. Netflix and I have made up. I know some of you think less of me for going back to a movie supplier that continues to disappoint me, but the good outweighs the bad right? Tourist Trap arrived safe and sound today and I was eager to finally cozy up to it. And then....something funny happened. I suddenly realized that Tourist Trap was possibly a little too creepy for comfort. Creepy is good yes, but in some cases, like when you watch The Exorcist at age seven while hiding behind a couch at your older sister's sleepover, the creepy is too much to handle and before you know it you're staying up until 5 in the morning because you think that a moth flew into your eyeball and is going to possesses you. Not that I speak from experience or anything like that....
Here's the thing about mannequins and me. I don't like them. I used to have these evil nightmares/evil fantasies about the mannequins in malls coming to life and eating me. (And no I'm not talking about the movie, Mannequin. I saw that after I had these fantasies which means that somebody no names mentioned (GOD) was trying to tell me something.) I was positive that there was a demon in there somewhere. PLUS no matter where you stand in said mall, the mannequin is always looking at you and that is not okay. I also once had a dream where I was smushed into a weird magic carpet ride thing in a car wash and this mannequin was teaching things at a blackboard. She smelled of musk.
Suffice to say---mannequins creep me out. Which is too bad because Tourist Trap is all about the mannequins. And let me tell you, they are fucking creepy. I'm still struggling though with figuring out whether these mannequins are creepy for everyone or just for people like me that have a particular aversion to them. Let's discuss.
The film follows a group of friends who after mysterious car trouble, end up at Mr. Slausen's "museum" which is really just a bunch of mannequins and racist Indian artifacts. The mannequins there seem kind of funny. They seem real and sometimes talk. Also a strange man wearing weird mannequin masks
(Didn't know that was a real thing) has telekinesis and kills people by turning them into mannequins. Did I mention there are mannequins everywhere?
Hopefully, most people will find at least some of the mannequin scenes off putting. I did chuckle though when one of the characters commented on how realistic the mannequins looked. Newsflash: they look like really shitty mannequins. But anyways, the really great thing about the mannequins is that sometimes they do this weird singing, laughing thing and it's one of the creepiest and oddly unique things I've ever seen. They also drop their jaws at various points and do this horrid scream.
Sure, most of my fear and terror brought me back to past nightmares and bad mannequin experiences but that scene where all the mannequins are laughing, singing and falling??? I know I can't be the only one to pee my pants a little.
One especially refreshing thing to see in this is that it doesn't follow the typical Slasher model of people being picked off one by one. We may THINK that's what happening and then two of the characters are simply alive and chained in the basement. They also escape at one point and come extremely close to getting away for good. I admit, I had fleeting thoughts of a safe and sound escape, but of course like most of my fleeting thoughts (inappropriate or not) they fizzled almost as soon as they began.
The scene that I would like to share with you however contains one of the most brilliant usages of the feeling of suffocation and terror. Some random girl is chained to a table in the basement and our killer begins spreading plaster over her face. I use the term "plaster" loosely here as the plaster is obviously pizza dough.
While the killer is doing this however, he begins explaining in a step by step process what the girl is going through, how she is feeling and how she will die. It was surprisingly well done and it definitely freaked me out. I once saw a Rescue 911 where a girl put plaster on her chest without putting oil or whatever on first and soon it began tightening around her and she almost died. Ever since then, I've stayed far, far away from plaster.
Seriously though, this scene? A+ It uses zero gore, zero suspense really, and yet it still got to me. Seeing the girl heave helplessly on the table with her face covered in plaster is something I will not be forgetting easily.
Of course, Tourist Trap isn't all sandwiches in the sun. Everyone dies except our final girl when there are still 30 minutes left. This made for 30 long minutes of chases, crying and pulling your hair out and screaming like this.
I didn't mind it so much as I found Molly to be a semi-likeable final girl--although I admit I liked Becky a little bit more. There's also a lot of fuzziness going on. The whole telekinesis thing is kind of just there without any real explanation or attention. You can see the identity of the killer coming from a mile away and once he's out and about, he suddenly gets really annoying. Plus he can be in two places at once all the fucking time. Not fair. These are of course minor limitations. A movie like Tourist Trap shouldn't really be dissected so easily. The real power of the film lies in its ability to create some honest to goodness fear in its viewers. There's just something so nightmarish about being trapped in a house full of mannequins and Tourist Trap exploits the shit out of that.
Overall Tourist Trap got to me. There were too many mannequins for me to really feel comfortable about myself and my surroundings. I'm probably going to have mannequin dreams tonight and it's going to be horrible. But isn't that what we long for in a great horror film? So maybe you won't all have mannequin nightmares after seeing this, but I bet that most of you will never be able to look at a mannequin the same ever again and that makes all the difference.
Also, you should know that I have a lot of hopes and dreams for myself. At the very, very top of that list however is the simple dream to drive down the coast with my mannequin friends in the backseat. We'll smell the sea breeze and we'll laugh. And life will be good.
Make it happen, Santa.