The Sculptress (Ian Merrick, 2000)
Thanks to a couple of wonderful browser plug-ins (Netflix Queue Sorter for Firefox and Netflix Sorter for Torch), I have the ability to sort my Netflix Instant Streaming queue by average rating. Which I do once a week if I’ve added anything to it. I usually have a perverse urge to watch, on my Tuesday work-from-home all-movie days, at least one movie from the bottom five in my queue, something that, basically, all of Netflix loathes. Last week’s was Strippers vs. Werewolves, and I have to say I thought the masses were wrong, wrong, wrong about that one. Today’s was the very bottom movie on the queue, The Sculptress, which is presently floating around Netflix-land under the title The Demon Within. It’s not quite as bad as the movie that was at the bottom of the heap two weeks ago, before I watched that one (the ridiculous Fading of the Cries), but man, it did its best to get there. This is a movie so bad I don’t even know where to begin telling you about its badness, so I’m going to quit typing, to to bed, and see if I can come up with some new words for “suck” while I’m sleeping tonight.
Plot: the titular sculptress, Sarah (Idle Hands‘ Katie Wright in her final, to date, feature appearance), is a British student who has just transferred to a prestigious art school in San Francisco. She spends her first few weeks flat-hunting before landing a room in a building also inhabited by Matthew Dobie (The Lawnmower Man‘s Jeff Fahey), a seemingly out-of-work Shakespearean actor (you find out why he’s always out of work pretty early on) who moonlights as a serial killer. She also draws the attention of hunky classmate Chris (Crosscut‘s Allen Cutler), a possible romantic interest, and obsessive professor Giraud (Panic Room‘s Patrick Bauchau), who is the first to notice that something is very amiss with Sarah—some of her work is very, very different from the rest of it (and, Giraud tells us, every sculptor’s style is as individual as a fingerprint, so this doesn’t make one bit of sense). She soon finds out, with the help of Giraud and psychic Madame Cleo (Rent‘s Vivis Colombetti), that she is a pawn in a demonic game much, much larger than any of its participants…
It wouldn’t surprise me if there were a pretty good script somewhere in the draft stages before this movie started filming. There are some fine ideas at the bottom of this, but they were all strangled by the time they reached the screen, by everything from Merrick (The Black Panther)’s questionable choices of camera angle at least once every five minutes to Jeff Fahey’s hilarious (unintentionally, one assumes) overacting. And what we ended up with is just awful. *
Trailer… if you dare.