"No donkey. No fairy tale. Just terror."
In 1859, the town of Ellensford was ravaged by a horrific disease. A mage offers to help the townspeople in return for becoming the magistrate. He manages to rid the town of disease but unknown to the rest of the village, this manifests itself in the form of a hungry ogre. A curse is put upon the town where every year they must sacrifice one of their villagers to the ogre. In the present day, four teenagers on a hiking expedition stumble upon Ellensford, which is now stuck in time. Seeing the new arrivals as a solution to the next four years of sacrifices, the townspeople capture the teenagers. But a few rebellious youths in the village are sick of the curse and want to end it. So they end up releasing the teenagers and without a sacrifice, the ogre is ready to go on a killing spree.
Sci-Fi Channel Original. Three words to send a heart-stopping pulse of terror into my body. But like drugs to an addict, I'm hooked on them. Maybe it's because they're easy targets for my rants. After all, I can usually copy and paste my reviews for them, such is their similarity and usual levels of direness. Or maybe it's because I keep watching them in the hope that one day, just one day, one of them will turn out to be pretty good. To be fair, there's been a few that weren't bad so I'm being overly harsh. But it's one in a million. Ogre is the next victim to step up and be counted. It's got a slightly different story to the usual monster-on-the-loose film so I hoped that it would at least provide some fresh material. How wrong I was!
Ogre basically runs like The Village with an ogre running around. There's the village that is trapped in time and set in their peculiar ways. Dialogue is spoken and clearly meant to sound ‘old’ from some bygone era. The clothes are old fashioned and the village itself has no phones, no electricity and they still live in cold, wooden houses. This is the basis of Ogre's problem: it spends way too much time with the villagers, none of whom you will care about. We don't care when they're constantly bickering and moaning at each other. They've had a long time to sit around in each other's company so they're bound to be a bit tetchy. The funny thing is that it's not a comedy and not meant to be light-hearted but because everyone is taking it all so seriously, it ends up being a riot. Watch how this person reacts. Or that person overacts. The conviction in their voices and the stiffness of their deliveries would have you believe that this is their last feature film and they're going out with a bang.
John Schneider is the worst culprit, barking out commands to the villagers as the sinister mage. Chelan Simmons at least provides some emotional support as one of the rebellious youths in the village but for an actress who has shed her clothes quite a lot, it's sad to see that she's the one who dresses up in the old fashioned head-to-toe get-up. Get used to seeing these people as the bulk of the film is based around them. I'll at least give the film a bit of credit for trying to come up with a reasonable back story to the ogre but it's a pity that the whole curse and magic element is overplayed and becomes confusing too quickly. This is a town of a thousand curses and none of them are pretty.
The ogre looks diabolical in all of his CGI glory. I've not seen worse special effects for a long time and when you've seen as many Sci-Fi Originals as I have, that's a mighty high bar to jump over. It's simply terrible. I'm not joking. Even if the rest of the film had been absolutely awesome, it would have been completely ruined as soon as this loin cloth wearing blob of grey with the biggest man boobs in the world lurched out of its hole. He appears way too early and ruins any sort of mystery that the film may have had. The ‘money shot’ of his first appearance is wasted too early and there's nothing left for you to look towards. Old school creature features kept the monsters hidden until later in the film to at least keep the audience waiting with anticipation. Now the monsters are shown in the first reel so you might as well switch off if it looks rubbish. Not only that but it is apparently a stealth ogre and, despite the loud rumbling it makes when it walks, manages to sneak up on many of the cast as if it had just appeared out of thin air.
Thankfully the ogre is not around for a lot of the film. He seems like an afterthought and is slapped in for a generic attack scene every once in a while to remind you what you're watching. The attacks are lame, once again assisted by very low grade computer graphic gore. A guy in a suit would have been far more convincing. Heck, even a hand puppet.....anything barring the CGI abomination we have here. Even Shrek - I mean give him a darker shade of green, sharper teeth and you've got an instantly scarier ogre than this! The cast also have an uncanny habit of running away from him but then stopping and freezing to allow him to catch them up and clobber them. Keep running you fools!
I should really start a separate rating scale for these Sci-Fi Channel originals as what may rank as a 1 star film from another studio may class as a 5 star review from the Sci-Fi Channel. Ogre tries to be a bit different from the rest with a variation on the typical creature feature tale but ends up with exactly the same problems as the rest. Go and watch Shrek again!
Director(s): Steven R. Monroe
Writer(s): Chuck Reeves
Actor(s): John Schneider, Ryan Kennedy, Katharine Isabelle, Brendan Fletcher, Chelan Simmons, Andrew Wheeler, Kyle Labine
Duration: 104 mins