Written by: Matt Molgaard
Directed by: Victor Salva
Cast: Rose McGowan, Ray Wise, Daniel Ross Owens, Sonny Marinelli, Lin Shaye
Maybe I’m a little on the loopy side, but I got a small kick out of Victor Salva’s Rosewood Lane. Don’t get me wrong, from a technical stance – at least in terms of screenwriting exclusively – the movie borders on repulsive. It’s so convoluted it feels like a joke that went awry very, very early. There isn’t a hint of subtlety in the film and Victor Salva’s disregard for appropriate nuances really hinders the story. Everything is just in your face, yet Salva seems to be attempting to project some deep, escalating narrative loaded with what should be gut wrenching emotional conflicts. As The Roots once said, things fall apart. And fast.
The story sees Sonny Blake, a psychiatrist and radio talk show host, move back to her hometown after her father turns up dead in the cellar, at the bottom of the stairs. But Sonny’s move and motion for closure is immediately interrupted when the mysterious and noticably vile paperboy shows up at Sonny’s door. Sonny knows right off the bat that the kid isn’t right upstairs, but she doesn’t realize that he’ll soon be breaking into her home and terrorizing her. Once she catches on to this fact it becomes a battle for survival, as the paperboy’s actions escalate from malicious torment to brutal acts of violence. Can she outsmart this nightmare of a child, or will she find herself at the bottom of the cellar stairs in a heap?
There are some very deep issues going on with Sonny and her history. She had a tumultuous upbringing, yet still lives with some measure of survivor’s guilt. But those emotions are never accurately relayed through dialogue, physical acting or even understated reaction. In turn they feel like rushed after thoughts. Hey, let’s make this charcater really deep… real quick! Nope, doesn’t pay off. And neither do the number of plot holes that riddle the film. Or the very murky finale that leaves us wondering, was this all some strange supernatural occurance, or was Sonny’s paperboy one of three triplets?
Rose McGowan really attempts to push this film into the ranks of greatness, but her efforts sputter because she’s got very little to work with. And while the remainder of the cast (Daniel Ross Owens is decidedly creepy as the paperboy) do a fine job in earning their paychecks, they too are constantly bogged down by that dreadful script. There isn’t anywhere for the performers to go to save the flick. Outside of the chance for some game changing improv, Rosewood Lane feels doomed. And no, we never get a hint of that game changing improv, in case you were wondering.
And through all the mess, I still found myself fairly entertained. Perhaps it’s the deception offered up by the suburban setting, or perhaps it’s just the effectiveness of that creepy bastard paperboy. I’m not entirely certain what worked for me (that alone probably says a lot about the picture), but something did hold my attention. Despite Salva’s extremely checkered past I can call myself a fan of his professional work. Rosewood Lane however, definitely doesn’t stand out as a shining mark on his ledger. It may qualify as a guilty pleasure flick for me, but I’m more than willing to admit that it’s a nasty wreck of a picture.