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Simon Says (2006)

Director: William Dear
Starring: Crispin Glover, Margo Harshman, Carrie Finklea, Greg Cipes, Kelly Vitz, Bruce Glover, Blake Lively
Rated R  Running time: 86 minutes
Released by Lionsgate

For the life of me, I can't understand why people have so much hate for Simon Says. A quick internet search of reviews reveals that many critics, pro and amateur alike, really, really hate this movie. In fact, the phrase "worst movie of the year" came up almost as often as the word "turd."

It's not that bad, though I'll admit that I almost didn't make it through the first act.

A van load of horrible teen characters are en route to a campsite deep in the mountains so that they can engage in all the drinking, drugging, and fornicating that horror movie adolescents are predisposed to doing. On the way, however, they stop at a run down gas station operated by a pair of identical twins named Simon and Stanley (Crispin Glover).

Let me stop right here. It's really only one-half of the pair, since the murderous Stanley massacred his entire family, brother Simon included, years earlier. I'm not giving away any secrets here, since we see the act in black-and-white flashback early in the film. I'm giving this detail away not as a spoiler, but as a way of helping potential viewers make sense of the poorly edited, confusingly told first act.

So after pissing Stanley off good and proper, the teens settle in to their campsite. And fortunately for us, we don't have to endure much more of their shenanigans before Stanley arrives wearing a ghillie suit and commanding an arsenal of farming/mining implement-based murder machines.

It's at this point that all the horrible acting and dialogue, terrible editing, and sloppy storytelling that makes the first act so hard-to-watch can be forgotten. Simon Says transforms from a subpar direct-to-video teen horror outing into an outrageously violent, over-the-top splatter toon with Glover serving as a kind of human version of Wile E. Coyote. I enjoyed it so much, I think it makes the truly terrible first act worthwhile, though few viewers will make it through.

Director William (Bill) Dear has a pretty interesting resume, having directed HARRY AND THE HENDERSONS, TIME RIDER: THE LEGEND OF LYLE SWANN, NYMPH, and 1974's awesome NORTHVILLE CEMETARY MASSACRE. With such an experienced director on board, I can't fathom how the first part of this movie (and the finale as well) became such a hacked up, silly, and confusing mess.

 If not for the first act, I would say that SIMON SAYS is a highly recommended horror-gore-comedy. As it is, however, it's really a bad movie with a terrific second act.

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