Nine Lives 2002 Review
Nine Lives 2002
aka Nueves Tumbas aka The Terror
Directed by: Andrew Green
Starring: Paris Hilton, Amelia Warner, Rosie Fellner
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
* This is an update of a review that I posted in 2006
Whilst staying at my buddy’s house recently, he showed me a film starring Paris Hilton that left me overwhelmed by her talent. What a performance! From start to finish she was totally convincing and she certainly had feelings for the, err, part. No, in case you’re wondering, it wasn’t Nine Lives. Actually it was her starring ‘roll’ in that other movie, which probably grossed a damn site more worldwide than this British slasher flick ever would. Now I’m no expert on porn actresses. I never really went through that whole top-shelf magazine/video phase. Perhaps it was because ever since I can remember I’ve been in one relationship or another? Or maybe it was because I got married at the tender age of 21? Now I’m 31 and still haven’t got much knowledge on all things X-rated. I do however, have a fairly good eye for talent, which has served me well throughout the years of enjoying cinema. I soon realized that if this feisty young heiress could show that much conviction, dedication and (ahem) experience when the camera is concentrating on her face…well…who knows?
I first learned about Nine Lives from an extremely generous preview in Empire magazine late 2002. After that the movie mysteriously seemed to vanish and I heard nothing more until I came across the DVD in Sevilla under the alias title Nueves Tumbas in summer 2004. To the best of my knowledge this wasn’t released in Britain until June 2005, which seemed like a long delay for a home-grown movie. In fact it graced American shores at least a year before it hit UK shelves. I couldn’t track down any information anywhere concerning the belatedness of Andrew Green’s début feature. I can only assume that not many distributors were rushing to pick it up for release?
Nine high school pals head to their friend’s remote mansion in Scotland to join him for his birthday celebrations. Emma (Rosie Fellner), Lucy (Vivienne Harvey), Jo (Paris Hilton), Laura (Amelia Warner), Linda (Maureen Turner), Tim (Patrick Kennedy), Andy (Ben Peyton) and Damien (James Schlesinger) are soon joined by Pete (David Nicolle), who was late arriving due to a hazardous snow storm that is crashing against the secluded house. (British weather, eh?). The group is pleased to be together again and they spend hours drinking and reminiscing over old times. As the evening gives way to a severely rain beaten night, the drunken youngsters decide to retire and sleep off all the alcohol.
Before they have even had the chance to turn out the lights, the tranquillity is shattered by an ominous scream. On exploration, they find Jo’s mutilated corpse sprawled across the bathroom floor. It seems that there’s a maniacal killer amongst the group and he’s intent on making this the last reunion they’ll ever share. But these ‘friends’ have known each other for years, surely there’s no motive for mass slaughter amongst them…?
Nine Lives starts really well. The location is fairly alluring, the characters interesting and Green manages to pull off a decent early shock. It’s somewhat of a surprise then that as soon as Madame Hilton checks out her Gucci bags twenty minutes into the feature things go downhill…DRASTICALLY. It seems that Ms Moneybags’ on-screen demise starts a chain reaction of bad-movie-syndrome that doesn’t take long to completely engulf the entire feature. You’d think that nine victims would be more than enough to pad out an eighty-minute runtime, right? Unfortunately, the murders are so poorly constructed that it doesn’t take too long for things to start feeling horrendously humdrum. The uninspired lead performance from Amelia Warner didn’t help and the rest of the cast seem to spend too much time standing around and staring blankly at the camera as if they’re thinking, “What do I do next? What’s going on? Why am I here? HELP!”
I’m going to give away the crux of the plot, which isn’t really a spoiler, but if you don’t want to know then stop reading now. Ok, so it seems that the spirit of an ancient Scotsman that was tortured by the English during the invasion of his homeland many years ago has taken possession of one of the kids in order to get revenge on the three lions. So we have a deranged Scottish killer that wants to bump off anyone that has the heritage of his southern neighbours. Fine. If that’s the case, please tell me why does he kill Paris Hilton –you couldn’t get more American – first? Perhaps he had seen what Mel Gibson and Randall Wallace did with Braveheart? When it comes to plot holes, Nine Lives is the cinema equivalent of a kitchen sieve. You’ll be screaming at the screen when Warner manages to work out the killer’s methods and motives from nothing more than a couple of scrappy pictures. The dumbfounding actions of the majority of the characters shows an embarrassing lack of thought from the rushed screenplay. It closes with the kind of dialogue that I presume was supposed to stick in our memory long after the credits have rolled. The thing is, it’s written so shabbily that it’s more hilarious than it is thoughtful. Kind of like an ambitious seven-year-old wrote it for a homework project. There’s no gore, suspense or attempts at building tension and by the 45-minute mark, the whole movie feels like a line of dominoes on the eve of a hurricane. By the 46th, the wind has most definitely blown.
It’s a shame, because technically, Andrew Green is a fairly talented director. You also have to give him credit for managing to get Paris Hilton to come all the way to Hertfordshire for a cameo, just a few months before 1 night in Paris was about to make her a superstar. He certainly picked the right time to offer her a contract. With that said though, his screen writing abilities are non-existent and next time that he’s hired to direct a feature, he should make sure that the script is someone else’s. Unfortunately Nine Lives is yet another British slasher-failure to add to the list.
I guess I’ll just have to wait a bit longer to see if Hilton can match the skill of that (ahem) breath taking breakout performance…
Final Girl √