After waking up from a coma, Trevor finds himself in the care of Dr. Ek — a psychiatrist who plans to conduct an unorthodox form of treatment for his new patient. Trevor is eventually placed in a halfway house with strange psychos, and once there, he begins to have nightmarish hallucinations and loses all grip on reality. His salvation and the answers he seeks seems to be hidden away inside a trunk in the secret attic of the halfway house.
Ah, I remember 2002 fondly. It was a time when…things…happened? Yes, I am almost certain that things happened in 2002 and I’m pretty sure I was there too. Okay, maybe I don’t remember 2002 that fondly, but I do remember watching “The Attic Expeditions” (I remember because I have very little in my life, both then and now) when it was a new release because I thought it looked and sounded good.
Don’t judge me. It was 2002. It was a different time and things were different back then!
Actually, if my faulty memory serves me somewhat correctly, I enjoyed “The Attic Expeditions”. I never owned it but I thought it was an interesting enough that certain parts have stayed with me — like the man and his alligator hand puppet. So I figured I’d finally revisit the movie 13 years later to see if I still enjoyed the movie now that my taste and views on movies has grown more grumpy.
After being found in the home with his murdered girlfriend, Trevor Blackburn falls into a comatose state. He awakes with no memory of what transpired and finds himself in the care of Dr. Ek (Jeffrey Combs) — a psychiatrist who wants to unlock the secrets of a mysterious book that Trevor possessed. The key is lost in the buried memories of Trevor’s damaged mind, so Dr. Ek sticks him in a halfway house filled with an odd assortment of psychos and nuts jobs. It’s there that Dr. Ek’s bizarre treatment causes Trevor to lose all grip of reality and can no longer distinguish reality from his nightmarish hallucinations.
The one thing that I learned from revisiting “The Attic Expeditions” is that I was incredibly stupid and didn’t have a firm grasp of what a good movie was. I was almost shocked at just how bad “The Attic Expeditions” was and made me wonder where I could have thought the movie had value. The movie seems to have retained a following, somewhat. That surprises me since all I could think about was how it played out like someone trying to recreate “Jacob’s Ladder”, but without any understanding of what that movie was.
Now if we were to believe the internet, for a change, “The Attic Expeditions” was adapted from a script for a movie that was intended to be part of the “Witchcraft” series. To me, that makes a lot of sense since the “Witchcraft” movies aren’t good — they work fine as straight-to-video schlock, but not exactly great movies. “The Attic Expeditions” has a straight-to-video quality because it always feels amateurish. As much as I hate the term, it even feels film school-ish at times. There are a lot of good ideas and respectable attempts at craft within the movie, both with the story and the technical aspect, but it almost always comes across like it’s being done just because — something being done without any more of a reason other than “because it’s cool.”
I can’t put that squarely on the movie because, ultimately, that’s just how it comes across to me. Still though, I don’t think it’s undeniable that the movie has a rough quality — and I don’t mean that in a good way — stemming from a feeling of being an amateur production.
“The Attic Expeditions” wants to be this head-spinning mix of supernatural and psychological with amazing visuals, but it never translates on screen. Any of it. The supernatural aspect feels particularly out of place — and makes the idea that this movie came from a “Witchcraft” script more believable — and never blended well with the psychological. Instead it’s as if two entirely different movies were edited together; making a seemingly straight-forward movie become a convoluted mess. It’s made even worse by the perpetually shifting timeline. It not only jumps forwards and backwards — hell, I think there’s even a flash side-ways — but scenes are replayed or they take place on an alternate timeline.
That constant fluctuation creates a conflict with the movie’s logic about whether or not what is occurring is supernatural or psychological. Of course the excuse will be that the movie isn’t suppose to make sense because everything is happening within the mind of the protagonist. Which is bullshit. The movie doesn’t make sense because the movie doesn’t even know what story it wants to tell — it’s why it feels like it is merely emulating “Jacob’s Ladder” without thought. “The Attic Expeditions” doesn’t have depth and it doesn’t have reason, which is why it feels so shallow and that everything is happening just because. An attempt to make up for this lack of direction resulted in everything being thrown into the mix, hoping that something good will come out of it.
Not to mention the movie needed to be carried largely by it’s main character since it’s ultimately a character piece, and Andras Jones as Trevor Blackburn couldn’t have been a worse choice. Every line and every scene is given a flat, dry, emotionless, monotone delivery. And with each moment that we spend with Andreas, the movie becomes more boring and is almost painful to sit through.
I don’t know any other way to put or how to say it eloquently but “The Attic Expeditions” is just dumb. The story is very simple: a doctor uses a patient for his own means. Somewhere during pre-production, it was decided that this movie needed to be more than what it was and so a bunch of garbage was thrown in. The movie wanted to be “surreal”; have the story told through underlying layers. The problem is that no one understood that for something like that to work, there needs to be context and the imagery needs to have a purpose. Then there’s the conflict between the supernatural and psychological elements that creates plotholes throughout the movie since it changes character motivation and development — this also comes from the irregular timeline. The whole thing is just a convoluted mess. There are a few little moments — like the scenes between Jeffrey Combs and Ted Raimi — but nothing that can save the movie or offer any redeeming qualities.
In fact, I recommend watching “The Ugly” instead. “The Ugly” is the kind of movie that “The Attic Expeditions” wants to be, except for the fact that “The Ugly” is a competent mix of genres with its own identity and is damn good. “The Attic Expeditions” is…eh, just fuck this movie.