You know you’re in trouble when a movie starts by showing the definition of “vision.” Actually, I knew I was in trouble when the first trailer on the DVD was for a movie starring Billy Zane and Lacey Chabert. The third one featured Daniel Baldwin and Warwick Davis. I don’t even want to think about the second trailer. Obviously, this is not a Weinstein Company release. I guess that’s what I get for scraping the bottom of the bargain bin.
Some websites have the title of this film listed as Monika: A Wrong Way to Die; as if there is a correct way to shake this mortal coil. The title also implies that this is part of a planned series, much like Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. Now that is a good movie. I knew that Monika was going to be awful when I saw the DVD in the store, but I hoped that it would circle around and be so bad that it’s good.
Reagan (Jason Wiles) gets a call from his buddy, Double (C. Thomas Howell). Double is in Vegas, and has one woman surplus to requirements (that has never happened to me). He hooked up with Andrea, (Elisa Donovan–yes, Amber from Clueless) and she has a friend, so… You know. Ponyboy is good like that.
The friend is Monika, (Cerina Vincent) and she is good to go. When Reagan shows up, he and Monika waste little time getting to know one another, if you know what I mean. I’m saying they screwed one anothers brains out, which is not hard to do (in my case, anyway). I’m talking hot, sweaty, Nevada desert sex. The kind in which the participants are naked, but you really don’t see anything. I saw more nudity watching scrambled porn in the Eighties.
There’s an idea: Someone should make a porn film that’s all warped, distorted, and slightly static-y. It’s sounds like a David Cronenberg – David Lynch joint venture, but it doesn’t have to be all freaky dreams and body horror; it just has to bring back memories. Yeah, it’s for a niche audience, but so is Monika.
Anyway… The next morning, Double drops the bomb on Reagan: Monika died the night before. She was gunned down in the hotel room he just left. The one where they played Lionel enters the tunnel (tunnels?). The one with the newly red walls, carpet, and curtains. The one the CSI squad had all the fun with.
What. The. Actual. Fornication.
So yeah. That happened. Reagan has visions, which is why the definition popped up on the screen earlier. That was handy, since I didn’t have to look it up in a dictionary. It was as if he knew Monika before he met her, but not in the biblical way. Or maybe he did. I’m not sure, because Monika makes no damn sense, and neither does the film. Nor does this review. Then again, maybe it does. It all depends on your ability to make all the way through to the end, which I do not recommend doing sober.
Warning! I am about to spoil the movie.
Monika’s sister Leanne (Shayla Beesley) fell in with the wrong crowd. How wrong? Well, I’ll tell you. Terry Jo (Jeff Branson) is a drug dealer with bleach blonde hair. If he was going for Stamper from Tomorrow Never Dies–he missed. He looks more like Timothy Olyphant in a Ryan Lochte biopic made for Spike TV. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Monika was killed because she has a sack full of cash that belongs to Terry Jo’s boss, Eli (Andrew Howard). In a better movie, (or even a good one) Eli could have been an interesting character. In Monika, he’s like the Jason Statham they could afford. Howard is Welsh, but Eli sounds like an Irishman pretending to be Cockney. Not only that, Eli occasionally works on his American accent. Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder he is not.
Side note: I just came up with a great idea for a Cinemax movie: Tropic Tinder. I don’t even need to tell you the plot, since it writes itself.
About a half hour in, Terry Jo kills Double. I guess that’s all the C. Thomas Howell the budget would allow. If only I could have bailed out so quickly.
Stay gold, Ponyboy.
Reagan gets questioned by police detectives Chad Donella playing Seth Davis in a direct to airplane sequel to Boiler Room, (Chad Lindberg) and skinny Dan LeBatard (Raffaello Degruttola). Afterward, Monika takes Reagan to meet her parents, (Suzanne Ford, Tim Thomerson) since that is what one does after having basic cable sex for the first time (seriously, I’ve seen more nudity on TCM). You’d think being a ghost would freak the ‘rents out, but no. Dad was an Airborne Ranger; he’s seen things.
The real reason they travel even deeper into the center of nowhere is because that is where Monika stashed the bag of money. Then Terry Jo shows up and murders Monika’s parents, because it’s his job to kill anyone who is caught trying to act.
The whole shooting match ends with the inevitable shootout, in which Monika has her revenge. Yay vengeance! Then she and Reagan play put the pistol in the holster again. Or do they? This is where writer/director Steven R. Monroe pulls the rug out from under the audience. Or does he draw the chalk outline on the carpet? It turns out the whole thing was a premonition. How can I be sure? The definition of “premonition” appears on the screen.
Monroe wasn’t happy to leave things open ended, he had to put a definitive period on it. It’s a kind of clever ending to an otherwise crap film; which is a category all unto itself.