The Power (1984) *1/2
D: Jeffrey Obrow, Stephen Carpenter
C: Susan Stokey, Warren Lincoln, Lisa Erickson, Chad Christian, Ben Gilbert
P: Three teenage friends, investigating the paranormal, come into possession of an Aztec idol that controls the darker recesses of human nature. Not knowing what to make of it, they turn to two investigative reporters for help. However, one of the reporters becomes seduced by the idol and turns into a bloodthirsty madman.
REVIEW: Going off the plot description that I wrote, above, you would think that the teen characters are the film's central protagonists. However, once the teen characters hand over the Aztec idol to the reporter characters, they fade into the background until the last 15 or so minutes of the film. From a viewer standpoint, I found this confusing because I was never exactly sure whose story I was following.
I think the most telling aspect is that Jeffrey Obrow and Stephen Carpenter are credited with both the script and directing duties. This leads me to believe that Obrow and Carpenter each wrote their own version of the script. (1.) with the teen characters as the central focus ...and (2.) the other version being with the reporters as the central focus. They then must have token turns directing the film from their own respective scripts and then tried to edit two different films into something resembling one feature length film. That's just my take on things considering that the film keeps shifting back and forth and never quite makes up its mind as to who's the central focus.
This leads to a lot of other unanswered questions. Like for instance, how did one of the teen character's parents come into possession of the idol?!? How did anyone even come into possession of this Aztec idol to begin with considering it was buried out in the desert, in the middle of nowhere?!? But let's forget about that, for now, and move on.
Surprisingly enough, things start out well with an intriguing opening sequence, but it's downhill from there. In an effort to try to find its footing, the film aimlessly wanders from one scene to the next, until it comes alive in the finale with a series of special effects and over the top set pieces. Some of the effects run hot, some run cold, but the ones that do work, really pop on screen.
Obrow and Carpenter's other credits as co-directors include The Dorm that Dripped Blood and The Kindred. This is the lesser of the duo's horror efforts. There's a few attempts at character development, some scary scenes, some exposition, but, as a whole, The Power never comes together. It's a confused and disorganized effort. A film in search of plot and narrative structure. [R] 84 mins.
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