MoniKa: A Wrong Way To Die (2012) Review


Aka: A Hole in the Desert, MoniKa

Written and directed by Steven R. Monroe, whom the DVD cover is quick to point out directed the 2010 I Spit on Your Grave remake, and featuring (at least under the title I purchased) cover art strikingly similar to said remake, you could be forgiven for going in expecting I Spit on Your Rip-off. Thankfully this isn’t the case.

Instead, we’re presented with a fascinating premise; Reagan Tyler receives a phone-call from his friend J.J, inviting him to meet at a motel in Las Vegas, where J.J has met a girl, and promises to hook Reagan up with the girls friend, who is staying in the room next to their own.
For lack of anything better to do, Reagan flies to Vegas, only to find J.J and his companion not answering their room door, he does however meet the promised friend, Monika (“with a K”) who turns out to be the woman of his dreams. They go out, have a great time, and spend the night together.

The following morning, Reagan calls on J.J, and is told why he and his lady friend were unavailable the day before. It turns out that yesterday, before Reagan arrived in town, Monika was murdered…

It’s a killer premise, one might argue it would make a great short film in and of itself. Sadly, that’s the first 20 minutes of the movie, thereafter I’m not sure Monroe really knew what to do with his idea.

After establishing that Monika was definitely killed, yet definitely the same woman he had spent the night with, we learn that she had found herself the target of a gang of drug dealers who killed her sister. We also learn that Reagan has been known to have visions and premonitions. Shortly thereafter, Reagan goes off in to the desert where he once again meets Monika.

With no real explanation as to why she’s still around, and no difference between living Monika and Dead Monika (she isn’t a ghost, or a zombie in any appreciable sense) the movie becomes a fairly standard action thriller about a couple at loggerheads with an organised crime syndicate.

It’s not a terrible movie by any means, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Monroe had written a movie about a woman who nearly faked her death, then made the death real to give his film a hook, adding Reagan’s penchant for premonitions and visions as a way to bind these disparate ideas together.

On the subject of the writing, clues to Monroe’s inexperience (this is his first writing credit) are abound; much of the dialogue is far from naturalistic, and exposition is occasionally clunky. Like the movie as a whole it isn’t terrible, just unremarkable.

The cast is variable, with the biggest stand-out (and not in a good way) being the crime boss, whose accent seems to cycle through Cockney, Irish, Redneck, and Burnley (often in the same sentence), and the direction is at times bland, but never distractingly bad.

Worth checking out on TV or if you can pick it up cheap (I found it in a poundshop) if only for its interesting premise, it’s a crying shame that such an interesting idea became such a solidly average movie.

Jesus, will you stop saying you were with her?


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