The Roost (2004)

roostWhat are bats? Flying rats who shit on you while flying off. What is “The Roost”? A flying piece of shit. Same difference, don’t you think? Actually, when I finished “The Roost,” I think watching seventy minutes of stock footage with bats would have been much more thrilling than Ti West’s horror indie. I can just imagine the brain storming for this junk with West trying to sell it:

Producer: So, what’s it about?
West: Four people on the road…
Producer: Oh god.
West: Discover an abandoned farm house.
Producer: Oh geez.
West: Will you let me finish?
Producer: Fine.
West: They discover an abandoned farm house, and are attacked by ravenous bats!
Producer: Okay…?
West: And they flutter, and tear your face apart! Gah!
Producer: Okay…?
West: That’s it!
Producer: That’s it? That’s kind of boring, isn’t it?
West: Uh… you didn’t let me finish.
Producer: Keep going.
West: And the victims turn into flesh eating zombies!
Producer: Good twist! But… how can the bats turn the victims into zombies?
West: Well, once upon a time, shut the fuck up!

So, it’s the basic plot. Four utterly one-dimensional and yawn inducing people traveling to a wedding, find themselves stuck on the road. They arrive at an abandoned farmhouse, and things get batty. West’s ode to mediocrity, shows that a low budget and a good idea doesn’t always equal quality. West is so anxious to include the novelty interruptions from the horror host that he never focuses on our characters. They’re not compelling, they’re not interesting, and nine times out of ten I could never understand what they were saying to one another. But it doesn’t really matter, because the dialogue between the characters serves as nothing more but padding.

Meanwhile, the tension is slim, and most of the plot is comprised of our characters walking around in the dark looking for their friends and calling out to them. You know West is desperate to draw tension when he cuts to a carved pumpkin while characters talk. I think showing a Christmas reef would have been scarier. Then, on occasion, we’re interrupted by our horror host who shows us the horrors of an Alfred Hitchcock impression. The drawn out opening featuring said horror host signals that West is not taking his film seriously, and we’re supposed to find this funny. But when the jokey intro falls flat, we realize he can’t even tell a joke right, let alone give us a campy horror flick. The introduction and interruptions by Tom Noonan as a hammy horror host is forced, and awfully obligatory. Noonan never sells his character and looks bored, or at least held at gun point by West, which would describe why we wait for his interruption to end instead of reveling in the satire. For horror, West subscribes to the Lamberto Bava method.

Supply scary creatures and pack the film with enough carnage and violence that the audience won’t ask where they came from. Problem is, “Demons” was scary, and “The Roost” is basically just another flying bat movie with a twist of walking dead. I wanted answers. Where did the bats come from? How did they get there? Why can their bites turn people into zombies? How come no one else was attacked before that? The rest of “The Roost” is comprised of poorly shot zombie attacks that are all build-up and very little pay off, and I wondered why god hated me, even though I didn’t believe in him. If this mediocre bore fest is the best West can offer, then I’m sure the rest of his career will be filled with mediocre quasi-horror. I slipped into a clinical coma three times during this indie yarn, and when a movie involving zombies, and killer bats can do that, you know the director has failed.