[SPOILER ALERT] Beacon77 [SPOILER ALERT]
It’s day 26 of the Horror Movie Marathon! This is one of the films that has been patiently waiting its turn all month. We just keep getting drawn back to it, even though it sounds… well… not good.
Beacon77 is not rated and is available on Hulu. At the time of our viewing, it has the following online ratings:
Rotten Tomatoes N/A% critics, 50% audience
It’s lunchtime. After this month, I’m going to be conditioned to watch scary movies when I eat! We both take notes throughout the movie. Afterward, we conduct a simultaneous interview/discussion via Google Docs. NOTE: Mikey typed Solee’s verbal contributions to the conversation to save her poor eyes.
Mikey: Do I need to shout “SHUT UP ZOE!” at another movie, right after Behemoth?
Solee: Yes, yes you do. That girl couldn’t decide what level to dial her emotions up to.
Mikey: I did feel like she got a lot more acceptable as a character after the first third of the movie, but wow, in the early going, she made the other Zoe seem positively pleasant.
Solee: The first third?
Mikey: Yeah, I made that note before any of the crazy stuff happened, when she was going nuts at Malcolm, in a very Behemoth-Zoe style.
Solee: Yeah, the thing is, one minute she’s so in love with him that she’s going to give up everything in her world to be with him, and then the next minute she’s raging at him because he’s going to do something that’s clearly important and part of his job. It’s like she was only happy when she was the center of his attention, which is not a healthy foundation for a relationship.
Mikey: Not that Declan and Kenny offered an example of healthy relationships either.
Solee: No… but they weren’t an actual relationship anymore.
Mikey: Some of them knew that more than others.
Solee: So this movie was jam-packed with every philosophy 101 concept that I ever talked about with anyone during a late-night sleepover as a teenager. Like it wanted to be clever, but it just came across as trying too hard.
Mikey: It’s funny that I can see a movie about a ghost killing everybody, and a psychic comes in and explains how it’s all being caused by energy in the house which was triggered by angry emotions… but this movie, I couldn’t suspend my disbelief hard enough to get even close to believing all twenty of the conspiracy theories they were intertwining.
Solee: Wow, every single thing that they looked up turned out to be a conspiracy. There was not a single “Nope, that was just a coincidence! The roads were just bad the day Diana’s bodyguard was driving too fast.”
Mikey: Of course they were all conspiracies, because the Vatican, the CIA, and the Pentagon were all working together to track down these bedroom hackers, using their MK-Ultra remote viewers and Bible-Code-powered Dan Brown assassins.
It was just too many ridiculous things, that some people in real life actually believe, all stacked together, to make this movie super implausible.
Solee: So what I think is interesting is that you focused in on all those conspiracy things, and what I focused in on was all the physics things they tried to put in there, the strange physics stuff of “the dimensions just beyond our powers of observation” and the idea of a 2-dimensional world. When Declan was drawing on the toilet paper, he was obviously representing wormholes or folding space.
Mikey: Which was never talked about or referenced again – he did it in private, apparently solved the universe doing it, and that was that.
Solee: Yeah, by drawing some lines and dots on toilet paper, he gained psychic powers. Which he used to throw his ex-girlfriend off a building.
Mikey: RIGHT! That’s the big thing I want to bring up. This might take some words. First of all, I find this kind of apocalyptic stuff very interesting, where somebody figures out how to break the rules of the world, and our reality falls apart. That’s fun, deep philosophical story stuff. But, in this movie, as in several others I’ve seen (Lucy comes to mind, as well as a few time-travel movies), all that fancy philosophical world-changing stuff ends up funneling down to somebody getting stabbed with a kitchen knife, and that’s pretty much the whole conflict. That is such a massive waste of interesting ideas.
Solee: I suspect that that funneling down happens because most people can’t think about the massive world-changing outside-our-powers-of-observation type concepts for too long.
Mikey: I feel like if you just wanted to write a story about somebody stabbing other people, even if it’s somebody with psychic powers, you can do that. You don’t have to spend half the movie discussing philosophy to bring it up. Just have him sign a contract with the devil, or get struck by lightning, and go with it.
Solee: I think it all boils down to they were trying to do something science-based, only they totally failed because their science was drowned in conspiracy theories.
Mikey: But all I’m asking for is that the guy, instead of pushing his girlfriend off a balcony, stabbing his friend, and shooting glass through a psychic girl… just have him tear the world open, or turn into pure energy, or anything that would be magical enough to justify all the philosophizing.
Solee: Okay, you get that he destroyed the world at the end, right? He brought about the end times. Not on schedule, but still. He just had to mundanely kill all the people that were trying to stop him doing that for some reason.
Mikey: I know – he destroyed the world off-screen. What I’m asking for, is for the movie to provide this payoff instead of being a simple slasher in the end.
Solee: I don’t think there’s any way the movie could’ve provided that in a way that didn’t come across as disappointing. It’s like how the scary monster is always scarier off-screen than when they bring it on-screen and you see that’s crappy CGI or a marionette in the shape of a mangy rabbit.
Mikey: If he could’ve just been as impressive as Neo. That would’ve been alright.
Solee: There were a lot of moments where this movie was trying to be The Matrix. Like how she could hear the code well enough to know whether they were being tracked.
Mikey: There was some classic hacking excitement in here. Like how the Pentagon had a letterhead for their hacking screens, and how they had to type a bible passage to get past Vatican security, and how they had one guy who they had literally chosen because he’s really good at typing fast and accurately. No computer skills whatsoever, just an awesome typist.
Solee: “He’s the fastest accurate typist.”
Mikey: It’s like a superpower.
Solee: Of course, some college student was able to do the job for him for about two-thirds of the time, as they tried to “configure the matrix”.
Mikey: I have to say, that’s pretty much how things are gonna go for you if your superpower is fast, accurate typing. No matter how fast or accurate, the average college student is still not that far behind you.
Solee: One other quote of note was that, when the CIA disconnected them, it was okay because they were still “just about connected”.
Mikey: Close enough!
Solee: It’s like horseshoes.
Mikey: Actually, what it was like, towards the very end of the movie, was The Tommyknockers. That was a vibe I totally got when he was using his super-brain to wire ordinary computers together into a special super computer.
Solee: True. Reference accepted. So can we talk for a moment about how Declan was basically Hugh Laurie? He looked similar to him, he had the same mouth structure so he sounded like him, he had a lot of similar mannerisms, and he was similarly condescending and sarcastic, right down to the facial expressions.
Mikey: So not so much Hugh Laurie as House. Also, he was crippled. And a genius. I guess. Sorta. I didn’t notice that but trying to picture him in my head I see it a bit. He sure wasn’t a nice guy.
Solee: I think it’s interesting that the Bible Code knew everything about everything except that Declan and Ragnarok were the same person.
Mikey: That search system didn’t make a lot of sense to me. But it sure did bring up the most useless prophecies ever: “JFK – Oswald, conspiracy, grassy knoll”. Uh yeah, we knew that.
Solee: And they couldn’t look up Princess Diana because they didn’t know what had really happened, so instead they bring up JFK’s murder, one of the most questioned events in US history? She’s like “I think we can all agree on what happened there, right guys?”
Mikey: Yeah, good move. Oh, I did like the “butterfly effect” montage at the end of the movie, kind of showing you how everything ended up where it did, except that none of it was really strongly consequential enough to give you that “Oh, that’s what that meant” feeling. It was a bunch of minor mishaps that were vaguely related.
Solee: Yes, by the time they revealed what happened to the vagrant woman, it was no longer of any importance compared to the fact that Declan was ending the world.
Mikey: I think the gist of the montage, and a lot of other elements in the movie, was to say that everything led up to this moment, there was no other way it could have happened.
Solee: Which is interesting, because I have a quote of Declan saying “Time is not linear.” Maybe that relates to what he was drawing on the toilet paper, but everything else in the movie points to time being a step-by-step thing that you cannot break free from. It’s almost like Declan was in a different movie that we didn’t get to see, because he had these huge breakthrough moments that we were told nothing about. Like it was a cross-over event. We need to find the movie that he was crossing over from!
Mikey: I think I’ve seen enough about Declan in this movie, I’m good. Yeah, the whole idea of the Bible Code was that the Bible secretly contained a blueprint of everything that would ever happen, which meant that you couldn’t stop it, because if you did, that would’ve already been talked about in the code. So why did Declan have to do anything? It was just happening.
Solee: Because earlier on, they were talking about the reason they wanted to decipher the Bible Code was because it would contain things like the cure for cancer, which could then be implemented earlier than it would have happened, saving lots of lives. But what they really did was implement the end of the world earlier than it would have happened, ending all lives. College kids are stupid. Well-intentioned but stupid.
Mikey: And really into amateur philosophy! But I don’t think they brought about the end any earlier, since after all, with the proper Google search, they discovered the code told them that Declan was ending the world tonight. So, there you go. No choice. Not really much of a story then.
Oh wait, I do want to give Declan credit for transcending his human form, at the very end of the movie. That is the kind of thing I wanted him to do. But he still ran around stabbing and being a psycho first, which is boring and not pertinent to the big issues they talked about.
Solee: Well, it fits with the idea that anyone who wants a position of power the most is the person who should have it least, which always makes me think of Douglas Adams.
Mikey: What, that he shouldn’t have been allowed to write books?
Solee: No, somewhere in the Hitchhiker’s Guide series, we meet the true ruler of the universe, and it turns out he’s a hermit who lives on some forgotten planet and has no idea he’s in charge.
So there was one premise to this movie that falls into my list of story concepts I really enjoy, and that is the moment of destruction being a moment of great understanding. I’m always intrigued by the idea of large amounts of time encapsulated within a short amount of brain activity. In real life, I often experience this when I have lengthy, elaborate dreams because I’ve dozed off for five minutes.
Mikey: And I already mentioned mine, but I really like those ideas of just completely up-ending reality, like transcending it and moving to a higher level or whatever. I think this movie had fun ideas, mixed into the pot with every conspiracy theory and amateur 4:20 philosophy idea.
Solee: Alright, I think it’s time for you to tell me how you rate this movie!
Mikey: Ouch, that’s a difficult question. It wasn’t very good. But whenever people are babbling and making diagrams about dimensions, I am interested and wondering how it will all play out (the not-very-good lies in how that played out – not very well). So, I have to go pretty low on the ratings, just to discourage further filmmakers from taking big ideas and turning them into slasher movies. I will give this movie a 2 out of 5.
Solee: I am also going to choose my rating in an effort to curb certain moviemaking behaviors. In my case, I want to punish them for thinking that shouting lots of vaguely clever-sounding things very quickly and in a very sarcastic I’m-smarter-than-you tone will trick me into thinking that this movie is clever. I wanted to like it, but it just was so unlikeable. Much like the character of Declan. So I am giving this movie a 2.5 out of 5.
Mikey: Okay, let’s move on to Altergeist next. It’s like Poltergeist, but altered.
Solee: I suspect there will be less metaphysics in Altergeist.
*If you have comments to leave specifically for Mikey, you can see this same interview/discussion posted here, on his website.