Rosewood Lane might’ve had potential if it had gone through the screenwriting process a couple more times but even so, I wasn’t at all impressed. Rose McGowan gives an adequate performance I suppose and relative newcomer Daniel Ross Owens tries his best but instead of making for a threatening villain, he’s instead a perplexing, even confusing character.
Genre(s): Suspense, Thriller
Universal | R – 97 min. – $26.98 | September 11, 2012
Directed by: Victor Salva
Writer(s): Victor Salva (written by)
Cast: Rose McGowan, Daniel Ross Owens, Ray Wise, Sonny Marinelli, Lauren Velez
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.35
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Disc Size: 30.4 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
THE MOVIE – 1.5/5
“Evil dwells in the most unlikely places.”
I have to give writer/director Victor Salva some credit because as much as I hated his latest suspense-thriller, it has stayed in my mind a full day later. No, not because the plot is so complicated that I need to work through all the angles nor because it’s just a well written thriller that I can’t wait to revisit again. Instead, I’m confused as to what I watched and the how it was made in the first place.
Rosewood Lane follows radio psychologist Sonny Blake (ROSE MCGOWAN) who moves back into her childhood home, since she’s unable to sell the property, a year after the death of her father from a fall down the basement stairs. It’s out of the city where she works and in the suburbs where neighbors are closed off and are somehow deathly afraid of the paperboy named Derek Barber (DANIEL ROSS OWENS).
Derek apparently likes to spend his nights stalking people, walking on house rooftops and just be a menace thought by some to have supernatural powers. Sonny finds this out the hard way after he breaks into her basement and is much confused when she confronts him with a baseball bat before running away. This initial threatening encounter follows their first meeting where Derek rudely places his foot in her door preventing Sonny from closing it (the pretext being he wants her to sign up for a subscription). I can only ask, why not first make Derek a non-threat and then slowly psychologically devolve the character? This way, any further contacts will be even more menacing. Instead what we get are laughable and poorly acted scenes in which Derek, as a way to scare Sonny, riddles off some nursery rhymes. Not only is this not scary but it’s utterly ridiculous.
In any case, as I mentioned he seems to be targeting Sonny for whatever reason but, according to her older neighbor, Derek and her father had a feud going beginning with Derek killing the dog and finished with supposedly the father being pushed down the stairs (there’s a shocker). But why is Derek now targeting Sonny? No idea and despite doing the right thing and getting the cops involved – Detectives Briggs (RAY WISE) and Sabatino (TOM TARANTINI) – but are unable to do anything because he was an ironclad alibi: his parents swear he was in bed. Yeah, ok. I’ve seen cops take in suspects with better alibis than that. So, with Derek still on the loose and neighbors too scared to do anything (they even lie to police and won’t corroborate her story).
That’s really the entire plot in a paragraph. You’ve got a psychopath stalking a woman; woman’s off and on boyfriend (SONNY MARINELLI) stupidly tries to protect her and more ho-hum and predictable scenes which makes this a forgettable, substandard thriller. I don’t know a whole lot about the writer/director Victor Salva outside of his… history. I haven’t seen any of the Jeepers Creepers movies (with a third currently being filmed) or Powder but if Rosewood Lane is any indication of his talent, not sure if I really want to. It’s a pedestrian script and thin plot that might be suitable for a one-off episode of “Criminal Minds”, not a 90-minute feature film.
The cast also isn’t that impressive. Rose McGowan isn’t bad but she hardly makes an impact either way. To be fair, she doesn’t have a whole lot to work with and outside of a select few working today (Amy Adams, Felicity Jones), not many could’ve brought more to the part either. All things considered, McGowan, and her apparently botched lip job (as much as it pains me to mention as I have loved her past work), does the best job possible, it’s just the character, like the plot itself, and has nothing to offer.
The other primary actor is Daniel Ross Owens. Like McGowan, I find it hard to find fault with his performance. Sure, maybe another actor could’ve conveyed creepy better especially his first scene (which came off as weird rather than scary or even threatening), but I’ll give Owens some credit for pulling off some of the lines he was given (mostly nursery rhymes). It’s not an easy task playing a one-note villain especially with somebody with no apparent motivation other than to be creepy and break into homes with impunity.
The supporting cast, unlike McGowan and Owens, are more or less fodder for the villain to dismantle. The oft underutilized Ray Wise plays the typical, hard-nosed detective; Lauren Velez from “Dexter” (Captain Maria LaGuerta) is the typical and logical best friend; and Sonny Marinelli is the boyfriend whom, usually the other way around, you have no idea why he sticks with the main character. Is it to continue his feud with the father? No clue and frankly, I couldn’t care less given we know very little about anybody in the film.
Rosewood Lane comes across as a rejected “Criminal Minds” episode sans likable characters and even remotely believable storyline. It’s an anemic film with a substandard screenplay, at best lackluster performances not helped by one-dimensional characters and a villain with motivations with no substance (hell, even the Saw sequels made an attempt at that). If there’s anything positive I can say is at least the production design isn’t too bad, but that’s all I got…
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.0/5
This release comes with a matted slip cover.
The Making of Rosewood Lane (30:07; HD) is actually better than your average ‘making-of’ featurette with some behind-the-scenes footage and cast/crew interviews. The featurette takes the viewer from pre-production to casting to the actual filming. Of course, it’s not very honest in the film’s shortcomings but at the same time you do get a glimpse at how it was made.
VIDEO – 3.75/5
Rosewood Lane menacingly rides onto Blu-ray (MPEG-4 AVC codec) presented with a 2.35 aspect ratio. Admittedly I must say the video transfer was a disappointing especially for a new release given the detail levels are fairly soft. On the positive side the black levels do look good and the color array seems to be even with no signs of being pumped up. Even so, the picture doesn’t quite pop off the screen and is average when comparing with other new releases.
AUDIO – 4.0/5
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track might not be the best but it gets the job done. The dialogue coming from the center channel while any action elements make some use of the front and back speakers, though the rear ones isn’t quite as vibrant.
OVERALL – 2.0/5
Overall, Rosewood Lane might’ve had potential if it had gone through the screenwriting process a couple more times but even so, I wasn’t at all impressed. Rose McGowan gives an adequate performance I suppose and relative newcomer Daniel Ross Owens tries his best but instead of making for a threatening villain, he’s instead a perplexing, even confusing character. The Blu-ray has solid video and audio transfers and though limited, the solo featurette isn’t entirely bad.
Bottom Line: Skip this direct-to-video turkey.