Welcome to Cult Corner where we dive through the bargain bins to determine if a movie is trash or treasure. Today’s pick… Paul Matthews’ Grim.
Grim centers around a group of spelunkers being attacked by something that has awoken in the caves. It’s your basic rubber suited monster affair and doesn’t really go much deeper than that, save for some strange psychic link one of the characters has and some odd satanic elements. Despite those quirks it’s still just a monster in a cave stalking a group of hapless victims.
As far as the characters are concerned they’re all pretty forgettable. Aside from the two that know about the monster and are going into the caves intentionally to try and stop it, they all sort of blend together into this generic protagonist mass of nothingness. The acting isn’t particularly good and the characters aren’t written well or fleshed out in the least, so I was left feeling absolutely nothing for these people. This is a problem since it makes it really difficult to connect with the film or care about anything that happens.
After Breeders (review here) this is the second of Paul Matthews’ films that has made it onto Cult Corner. I didn’t know that at the time I was watching it, but in retrospect it makes perfect sense. While Breeders was essentially a poorly put together Alien knockoff, this one goes more in a fairy tale direction with the monster being some sort of troll-looking thing. The monster looks pretty cool (albeit a bit goofy), but we just don’t get to see it enough. I had that issue with Breeders and I have it even more with Grim. This guy is barely even in the movie, and when he is he usually just stands off in the distance and looks around, not really doing a whole hell of a lot. There’s a scene where he chokes a girl out just feet away from the rest of the group and a moment where he busts through a cave wall like the Kool Aid Man, but that’s about it. This is what we’re here to see, so show us the monster!
This is Matthews’ first film, and you can tell by watching it. This flick looks cheap. It takes place entirely inside of a series of caves save for some bookending segments in the suburbs, but you never once get the feeling of actually being in caves. Everything looks like an obvious set and honestly most of the time they feel like they’re maybe ten feet from the entrance. I attribute some of this to the lighting, as they like to backlight scenes more often than is probably appropriate. It feels like light is coming from a cave opening just off screen and totally throws off the atmosphere. Given that a big part of this kind of movie is that they’re supposed to be somewhat lost down there it really screws up any chance to sell that when these issues are present.
Ultimately, something like Grim is really hard to talk about. Not a whole lot happens and the film’s biggest sin is just how painfully boring it is. I keep watching these rubber suit monster flicks hoping that I’ll find something that’s at least kind of fun, but everyone apparently thinks they’re making Jaws and opts to hide the monster for most of the film. There are ways to make this work and there are some movies I love that take that approach, such as Monsters. Unfortunately, if you don’t have anything interesting to give the audience when the creature isn’t onscreen it doesn’t quite work out. It also doesn’t help when your monster looks like Rawhead Rex. At the end of the day this one is a miss. You can skip it.
Here at Cult Corner we cover the weird and obscure. Given the low budget that these movies often have we feel the need to recognize that entertainment value and quality aren’t always synonymous. That’s why we have opted for the “trash or treasure” approach in lieu of a typical rating system. After all, Troll 2 is incredibly entertaining but it’s no 8 out of 10.