Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Milo (Canada,1998)

A derivative, lousy film; so much so that it isn't at all surprising that the director hasn't made another feature movie since this one. Even the movie's original tag line — "Remember, Jason and Freddy were kids once, too" — was cribbed from another film, having graced the posters and video box of Dennis Dimster's Mikey (1992), an equally predictable but slightly more entertaining piece of trash starring Family Ties' Brian Bonsall as the kiddie-from-hell. (The new trailer tag line — "...size doesn't matter" — is, on the other hand rather funny.)
Unlike Mikey, however, there is little good to say about Milo, unless one counts laughable predictability, bad acting and no thrills as plus points. True, the opening flashback scene (introducing the young bad seed and the various future victims) in which a little girl seemingly gets killed (off-screen) when Milo probably does an abortion on her while playing doctor is perverse enough, but the shock and unease generated at the film's beginning is never again repeated anywhere else in this relatively bloodless slasher flick that has the main female character running around with "Please Kill Me" sign on her back. Oddly enough, she is also the only one of the circle of original survivors who Milo doesn't manage to knock off when he stages his revival some 15 or 20 years after having first played doctor.
Though the film generates few thrills or chills, it does get more than enough laughs, though none are intended and most are achieved solely by bad acting, hilariously inept plot twists and cheesy special effects. The best thing the film has going for it is Antonio Fargas — Huggy Bear on Barretta and veteran of such blaxploitation classics as Shaft (1971), Cleopatra Jones (1973) and Foxy Brown (1974) — as the school janitor Kelso, the lead heroine's only true ally. He may be older, but he's still good. Vincent Schiavelli is also rather effective as Milo's creepy "father," the discredited gynecologist, Dr. Jeader, but truth be told it is more his (normal) appearance that are effective than his performance. (The second biggest "shock" of Milo is when it revealed that the bad boy is actually the final result of an aborted fetus saved by Dr. Jeader.)
Next to the script and direction, the weakest aspect of Milo is Jennifer Jostyn's lousy turn as Claire, the movie's easy-to-dislike heroine. A whining, brainless and incompetent teacher, she evokes no sympathy and leaves the audience wishing that Milo would finally get around to knifing her, too. The "action" in Milo begins when Claire returns to her hometown for the marriage of one of her old friends and fellow survivor from Milo's first rampage. Regrettably, her friend, who was also a school teacher, dies before Claire gets there, and Claire logically decides to take over her job. Well, not two periods into the first day go by before Claire begins to see the killer midget in a yellow slicker from Nicholas Roeg's Don't Look Back (1973) riding around on Milo's old bike. Milo seems to kill all her old friend's after she visits them, so before long she is the #1 suspect. Claire has a hard time understanding why everyone thinks she is bonkers when she starts claiming Milo is back in town, despite the fact that he drowned so many years earlier. Everything leads very slowly to a big showdown at Dr. Jeader's house at which Milo gets everybody but Claire before the film ends with one of those mandatory lead-ins to a possible sequel that, without a doubt, never will be made.

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