Friday, December 08, 2006

Adam's read Pro-Life?!?

This is taken partially from a comment I left on Drew McWeeny's blog. I've expanded it...a little.
The odd thing is, when I wrote my review of PRO-LIFE, I didn't talk about the acting, the direction or the FX work.
I just whined about the writing. When, in fact, it's not the writers' fault that the production schedule is so short and the budget is so tiny. The constraints of a budget are necessary, but occasionally they suck.
Here, they mostly sucked.
The acting in the episode was damn good. I might not have bought the father in the clinic with his wife and daughter. But that made his demise all the more satisfying for me. Perlman is gold even in the shitty Sci-Fi Originals he seems to be the star of half of, and in PRO-LIFE, you guys gave him some actual meat to chew on. He had to make an unsympathetic character human, and he did it with ease.
The direction by Carpenter was everything I expect out of a John Carpenter film. It might not be flashy and jump-cutty and it might not scream "Ooh, Ma! I'm a DIRECTOR now!". However, the man has skills. And he does the job better than almost anyone in the business. Yes, John Carpenter has made a dud or two. But even his failures are interesting to watch, and Pro-Life is no exception.
The FX work? Daaaaaaaaaamn. On a budget, KNB always impresses. If they'd had the time and money to deliver all the extra kills? I don't know that we'd be able to handle the bloodbath. In particular, the abrupt end of Sam shows just how damn disgusting these guys can be on no cash whatsoever.

Well, now I've read the script, thanks to McWeeny posting it on the web. The script has most of the payoff that's not in the episode, and it does it as old-school as possible. Showing things isn't nearly as effective as hinting at them. They knew they were working on a tight budget, and with little or no time. So, they kept as much as possible hidden.
The script plays coy with the viewer, not giving them a good look at the Father until it's time for Dwayne to shuffle off this mortal coil. The writers will just as soon have someone expire off-screen with a terrified, cut-off scream as they will show you a blood fountain when someone gets shot in the neck.
There's a douchebag over in the comments on Drew's blog who literally makes a laundry list of all the things he saw wrong with Pro-Life. Suffice it to say, I'd like to not be that douchebag. Then again, I paid attention to the episode and 1) understood that Dr Morgan's office wasn't very near to where Angelique was giving birth. Or 2) that Dr Morgan was kind of twitchy and had collected an arsenal to protect his VERY REMOTELY LOCATED clinic (Which is why 3) cell phones wouldn't work. As to why the land lines wouldn't, the douche really should have watched the episode.). And yes, 4) abortion clinics operate on skeleton staffs -- not a lot of people want to work there, and it's not safe to have large numbers of people in the place when certain groups are trying to infiltrate them, much as animal testing facilities keep personnel to a minimum.
If nothing else, reading the script has given me a bit of an education at how things can change in the course of production. And how money (or a lack of it) can drive creative decisions on a film. Comparing and contrasting the written page to the finished product is always interesting. And with a bit of feedback from one of the creators, the level of insight is enlightening to say the least.
As McWeeny said on his blog, "I wish it could have been a half-hour longer and that we had another $2 million to spend." With the extra running time, and with a slightly higher budget, Pro-Life could have been polished from a flawed rock into a gem.

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