Studio: Passion River
Writer: Ajai, Maurice Jovan Billington
Producer: Ajai, Travis Huff, Bruce Dickson
Stars: Edward Furlong, Shawna Waldron, Laurence Mason, Shirly Brener, Diane Salinger, Tiffany Martin
A young couple coping with the grief of losing a child finds themselves trapped inside a nightmarish vision of the end of the world.
“Stitch” is either a decent movie felled by too much ambition and tremendously bad visual effects, or it is a bad movie modestly elevated by decent performances from a capable cast. Whichever is the case, the only common descriptors in those two possibilities are the words “decent” and “bad,” indicating that “Stitch” is not worth recommending no matter what.
When the film opens on an awful looking CGI series of desert landscapes accompanied by a chanting tribal choir echoing the “Survivor” theme song, the artificial operatic gravitas appears initially forgivable since it is only the opening credits. But inexplicably, the digitized backgrounds resembling dynamic desktop wallpapers end up being a key feature of the film’s set design and overall visual look. Any shot involving a window, background, or entire exterior showing the outdoors is filmed against a green screen, and wow does it look terrible.
Edward Furlong and Shawna Waldron are a troubled young couple coping with the untimely death of their daughter. Aided by a spiritual counselor buddy and his girlfriend, their foursome rents a remote house in the desert where they stage a grief cleansing ritual. The weird thing is, no one can remember planning the trip or exactly how they made it to the middle of nowhere in the first place.
A demon donning a cattle skull soon appears, as do unexplained bodily scars that are already sutured. The sun is eclipsed, the sky fills with lightning, and the end of the world literally begins. The madness spiral continues spinning from there as the already strange events and environments begin merging with dreams and melting with memories. “Stitch” tries taking its narrative into surreal territory with themes, tone, and presentation, but it is a perplexing vision communicated clunkily and without any discernibly singular cinematic panache.
If the story is not already on the path towards pretentious with overly philosophical narration (“Death is the infinite abyss of pure non-existence.”) and an unbalanced focus on flair over substance, the foursome is saddled with alternate spellings or outright hipster names like Marsden, Serafina, Colline, and Pirino. This is a script where every element right down to the character naming is straining so hard to be bohemian in its identity that it never finds the perspective to actually settle down and create one.
Even if it were possible to sort through the film’s jumbled threads and find a clear artistic intention, it is impossible to overlook how laughable the whole thing looks. “Stitch” relies heavily on computer-generated imagery to create its nightmare world, but there is no way to accept the phony backgrounds as anything other than completely amateur. Without the tools to properly tell any story, the movie might as well be D.O.A. before it even begins.
“Stitch” looks like a cartoon and it is too poorly animated to ever be taken seriously. The movie eventually takes that angle literally when it hazily meanders through a garbled third act that includes montages with clips ripped from public domain cartoons and other misplaced sequences adding to the messiness. “Stitch” basically throws up a series of blindfolded lob shots with the hope that the audience might mistake nonsensical confusion for intentional surrealistic artistry. That smoke and mirror trick is about as convincing as the visuals, which extend beyond the computer and into the practical world via scar makeup resembling pre-fabricated Halloween prosthetics slathered in stage blood.
The four main actors are able to eke out isolated drips of occasional inspiration from their roles. It makes keeping up with the story a bearable task, but such moments are too few and far between to carry the film fully over its hump of overwrought dreamy drama and Rancor ring halos that constantly encircle everyone. “Stitch” is a movie that wants to be more cerebral and thought provoking than it is, but low-budget production values ensure that even a more sensible script would never have made it off the ground.
Review Score: 40