Thursday 25 March 2010

Dean Koontz's Intensity

Boy, it’s just amazing what you’ll get up to in your efforts to put off doing something you don’t want to do, isn’t it? Namely, avoiding working on the book you’re writing, which is the reason you haven’t updated your blog for 64 million years, give or take a century. So here I am with a little look at Dean Koontz’s Intensity. Yup, not only have I sought out a three-hour TV movie to watch, but now I’m actually writing about it... Can you say “procrastination”? Of course you can! But can you spell it? Ha!

Things got so bad on the putting-off-work front today that, besides shampooing my carpets with Head & Shoulders – surprisingly tough on rug dandruff – I also managed to watch a Mary Higgins Clark TV movie... you know, the kind where a woman’s kidnapped, her fretful friend falls in love with the detective, something explodes (probably a yacht) and you wish you’d watched a proper thriller instead. The one I picked was For Better or for Worse, aka Terror Stalks the Class Reunion (now you see why I gave it a go) and you can read my review over at Retro Slashers... But hold your horses there, pardner! I haven’t even started this review yet!

Funnily enough, Intensity is also about a kidnap but, believe me, it’s a whole lot better than the Mary Higgins Clark outing. The clues are in the titles. Where For Better or for Worse has little of the former but lots of the latter, Intensity lives up to its name with a smattering of prolonged suspense sequences and a running time that, far from dragging everything out, actually gives it the feel of a decent novel. (This is probably the part where Dean Koontz fans point out that that’s because it’s based on one.)

And – oh – Intensity... there’s another reason you’re interesting, and that’s down to the fact that you’re basically a blueprint for the 2003 French horror film Haute Tension/Switchblade Romance. (This sent the blogging world into a frenzy seven years ago, so I’ll let you do your own Google search.) Haute Tension is basically the jacked-up, hyper-gory, streamlined version, and a safer bet for horror fans, I guess, but taking the trip with Intensity is well worth the ride too.

What are you in for if you do? Well, Molly Parker stars as an emotionally damaged waitress called Chyna, who can’t flip an egg without having a disturbing flashback of her awful childhood, in which she was apparently raised by Mickey and Mallory Knox whilst being pursued by a camera mounted on the back of a bee with balance problems. Chyna is visiting the family of her friend, Laura, at Thanksgiving when a serial killer played by Scrubs’ John C. McGinley (slightly distracting) breaks in and kills everyone... Everyone, that is, except for Laura, whom he decides to tie up and kidnap, and Chyna, who sneaks undetected into the back of the killer’s getaway vehicle (a mobile home) and tries to think of a way of freeing Laura without getting captured and killed herself.

The whole home-invasion is a great piece of sustained tension, as is almost every ensuing scrape Chyna manages to get herself into, from dodging the killer during a blood-splattered stopover at a gas station, to mounting an escape from the his home past a pack of hungry guard dogs. Piper Laurie pops up as a motorist dragged into the chase, and there’s also the small matter of a kidnapped child who needs rescuing from the monster’s lair. If it’s woman-in-peril thrills you’re after, you can’t go wrong with this one, really. It’s twice as suspenseful as most similar offerings, not to mention twice as long.

Intense procrastination material, then.

Rating: 4/5