10/10/12

Rosewood Lane (2011): or The Paperboy Vs. Rose McGowan

When you name a horror movie after a street, then you’re making kind of a ballsy move. The whole horror street market has kind of been cornered by a certain Mr. Kruger after all, but then if you make it a film about a killer paperboy than you’re really just trying to show what kind of cojones you have. However if there’s any director who can surely be easily attributed such a trait it is Victor Salva. From his discovery by Coppola which lead to the strange piece of cinema called Powder to a pair of Jeepers Creepers films, and soon to be a third, he has blazed a trail as a film maker of distinct vision if nothing else. Salva seems to have a fascination with making the antique extra creepy. Think about the signature tune in Jeepers Creepers, and you’re sent back to an era where paperboys abounded. Maybe it’s just where I've lived, but I don’t think kids on bikes delivering papers exist anymore. In fact I never remember anything like it in my lifetime. An evil paperboy is central to the concept of the newest film from Salva, Rosewood Lane.


After radio talk show shrink Sonny Blake’s alcoholic father is found dead in the basement of their family home on Rosewood Lane. Sonny (Rose McGowan) takes the opportunity to leave the city against the advice of her best friend and producer Paula (Lauren Velez). As she’s moving into her home, a next door neighbor (Rance Howard) warns Sonny to not take the paper, and later when she’s alone she gets a visit from the dark eyed news spreader Derek (Daniel Ross Owens). Things in Sonny’s home begin to subtly be misplaced, and soon she catches him lurking in her basement where her father was found. The police (Ray Wise and Tom Tarantini) are no help, and all her neighbors also live in fear of Derek’s menace. It’s up to Sonny to stand up to death on a bicycle and stand up she does.

I want to start off at the top talking about The Paperboy himself because he is both what works about Rosewood Lane and what kind of runs it off the rails. The actor, Daniel Ross Owens, nails the creep factor to the wall, and with the simple addition of pitch black eyes (and not eyes like Vin Diesel in Pitch Black), becomes a spooky supernatural force that actually carried some weight to it. However, Mr. Owens is also pushing thirty while trying to play a teen. The fact that McGowan’s character, clearly a smart woman, would think that he was a high school kid seems far fetched, but it was brought up time and time again when she talked to the police. There’s also something to be said about his outfit. Clad in a blue cap, a red and white baseball t-shirt, and blue jeans sitting astride a bike, he looks the picture of what you would think Dennis the Menace would look like if he grew up and took menacing to a whole different level. It’s ludicrous, but it works because it seems so wholesome, a throwback to the 1950’s. Salva even manages to make a simple movement by The Paperboy, putting his foot on the bike’s pedal into a suspenseful moment with heft. There is also an especially effective scene that I feel sure is an homage to Clockwork Orange, another film that turned old pieces of popular culture into harbingers of doom.

As for Rose McGowan, she put on a very strong performance in Rosewood Lane that didn't fall into the usual stock tropes for horror film heroines. Coming across as tough and resourceful, McGowan’s Dr. Blake is a woman unto herself and not afraid to fight her own battles and she does several times with a baseball bat. I have to also admit that she looks great doing it to. I have a special place in my heart for Rose, and her appearance here was actually what initially brought the film to my attention. Of course, the film features several other beautiful women as both Lauren Velez, from Showtime’s Dexter, and Lesley-Anne Down, from The Great Train Robbery and currently The Bold & The Beautiful (which I watch regularly, full disclosure), appear in small parts. There are also a number of other recognizable faces popping up on Rosewood Lane. Ray Wise, who if you missed on Reaper go back and check that out, shows up for a paycheck to be spent keeping his hair absolutely perfect, and character actress Lin Shayne shows up in a small role. The small role filled by Rance Howard warmed the heart to see the veteran actor (and father to Ron and grandpa to Bryce Dallas) on the screen again. I also very much liked the performance from Sonny Marinelli as Dr. Blake’s D.A. boyfriend. He and McGowan shared good chemistry, and it made me more intrigued to check out the new TV show Vegas knowing that he is on it.

In every movie I've seen of Victor Salva’s I would say that he has a difficult relationship with Americana. As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, there seems to be a running theme of classic American ideals, pop songs or paper boys, reflected through, or masking, some kind of evil. Almost like in Jeepers Creepers, there is little to no explanation of the events in the film. So if you’re looking for a deep and lustrous back story to The Paperboy mythos, then I guess check to see if there’s any Paperboy fan fiction out there. Of course, don’t be confused by all the slash fiction out there revolving around the classic arcade game Paperboy. That is something entirely different. Even Salva’s next film, Haunted, is set against the backdrop of an abandoned Victorian mansion, perhaps the very picture of Horror Americana, and then he’ll return to the creepy 30’s tunes with Jeepers Creepers 3: Cathedral. Working with his usual cinematographer, Don E. FauntLeRoy, Salva created a visual style for the film which created a similar mood to his other horror fare, but with a flair that belonged entirely to The Paperboy. Again, not breaking up a team that works, Salva employed Bennett Salvay for the score, and it certainly showed that so many of the elements were handled by pros who had a history and knew how to compliment each other.

I sound like I’m writing a rave review for Rosewood Lane, and perhaps I’m writing a half of one. Like a rave without the ecstasy-- no, I take that back, it was like the ecstasy without the rave. I was drawn in, everything seemed to be popping, but without the equivalent of a backbeat humming in my head I ended up feeling like I spent the evening rubbing my face on a fuzzy pillow. It was nice. I really, really liked it, but it didn’t quite turn out the way I expected. I think if an actual teen had been playing The Paperboy, think a supernatural, slightly older version of Macaulay Culkin from The Good Son, then all the pieces would have really fit together for me better. Yet, I like the guy who plays the killer. It’s just that kind of film. In so many ways it’s frustratingly just a smidgen off of what it needed to be to be a better film. With a slightly tighter script, less paycheck performances, a couple of recasting choices, and a little more of a tight hand on the suspense elements, Rosewood Lane could have been something I would want more of. Salva leaves the film on a note that could easily lead to another trip down the Lane, but I don’t know if it’s an address I would take up again. For a fun horror watch (especially since it’s on Netflix Instant Watch right now, you can do better, but you can do so much worse. Rose McGowan fans dig in.

Bugg Rating

3 comments:

  1. Rose was gorgeous to be sure, but they end the whole thing on a plot hole the Creeper could drive his huge truck through. Apart from that, I dug it. Didn't realize Salvador directed it, but we threw it on as a bed time distraction, so I wasn't paying attention, early on.

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  2. Am gonna check it out now. I like Salva's movies for the most part(Clownhouse, Jeepers 1, Powder), so maybe what the heck...if it's on Netflix, I'll give it a go.

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  3. I loved it.Im still trying to figure out what the paperboy was?????

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