Film Reviews:

Idle Hands

(Rodman Flender, US, 1999)

[Idle Hands - poster]It's incredible that this film was made in 1999. It fairly screams Eighties, a teen comedy horror hybrid, that's a horrible mix of Weird Science and Re-animator. The weak plot features Anton, (Devon Sawa) an ugly young geek, who wants to get jiggy with Molly (Jessica Alba), the pretty girl from across the street, but is too shy. But oh no!! His hand is possessed and makes him kill people! Yes, it's just that abrupt, and just that silly.

The evil hand makes Anton kill his parents, then his two slacker friends Mick (Seth Green) and Pnub (Elden Henson) The friends come back as American Werewolf-style rotting-yet-living corpses, but the parents stay dead. No reason is given why or how his friends come back, or why the parents don't. But then who wants parents around to spoil the fun?

Anton has to fight his own possessed hand, in lots of slapstick scenes ripped off from Evil Dead 2. But poor Sawa is such a crap actor that he never looks like he's fighting his own hand. He just looks like an gimp with a bad haircut yelling and leaping around. But it's not all bad. The hand does help out with the Molly, by making Anton grab her bum when she's bending over. Naturally she finds this move charming, and is moved to sleep with him as a result. But then the evil hand tries to kill her during sex, so Anton has to tie his own hand to the bedpost. 'Oh you're kinky' Molly says, believably.

It's pretty obvious Anton's going to have to cut his hand off, but the film takes ages to get there. He does it eventually, and guess what? The severed hand takes on a life of its own, and goes on a rampage. Here's where the best bits of the film are, with the hand feeling up a teen girls titties before strangling her, and clawing a guy's balls as he talks on a phone sex line. Hilarious? No, but fun in a tacky way, and, and closest to what the idea of a severed-hand teen-horror promises.

Finally, we get to the Prom scene. The hand scalps The Offspring's singer, which is understandable. Like the rest of the crowd, Molly runs, but instead of rushing through the door like everyone else, she goes down a vent with her friend, just so that a giant fan slice up her friend. The hand then affects a glove puppet disguise, and somehow manages to get stoned when dope smoke is blown on it. It's finally killed quite easily. It looks like there's going to be a 'shock' revival for the hand, but the filmmakers just couldn't be bothered, so a line of dialogue explains why it's not coming back after all.

Obviously the idea is dumb, but some sort of reality in the way the characters react to the situation would have made for a far more enjoyable film. Anton doesn't even notice his parents are dead, because he's such a useless layabout stoner hah hah hah. He chops his own hand off, but rather than going into shock, he goes out with his girlfriend. Who doesn't notice anything's wrong. Anton's general uselessness and stupidity is hammered home over and over in a way that's quite hateful. Idle Hands is a cartoon, and that's fine, but when everyone acts so out of step with reality, it's hard to sympathize, or care about them. And it's boring. And crap. 2/10, if drunk then 8/10

Adrian Horrocks (January, 2005)

See also:

Fright Night
Scary Movie
Weird Science

A-Z of Film Reviews