Everything Put Together
dir. Marc Forster
Opens Fri Nov 30
Clinton Street Theater

Everything Put Together, a low-budget drama shot on digital video and director Marc Forster's first feature-length film, arrives in Portland on a tiny tsunami of hype. After its initial screening at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival, it opened in Los Angeles earlier this month to glowing reviews in the L.A. Times and the New York Times among others, and many people praised Forster's direction and use of the digital medium. Obviously, none of these people have ever seen B-grade horror films from the '70s and '80s, because Forster basically ripped off the whole genre.

Everything Put Together is about Angie, a pregnant suburban housewife (played pretty decently by Radha Mitchell) who hangs around a lot of other pregnant suburban housewives. Their entire lives revolve around the imminence of their babies--they decorate the kids' rooms, they go to pregnancy classes, they talk about what a pain in the ass the kids are. It all changes, however, when Angie's baby dies of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and her friends start avoiding her like the plague. Naturally, Angie is struck with grief, and Forster interprets her devastation like a horror movie: He aims the camera through a glass dome, so the image is bent; he focuses the camera on the beveled edge of a mirror, so the image is fractured; he focuses the camera really closely on her face, so the image is distorted. It's predictable and amateurish and straight from Nightmare on Elm Street 4: Dream Warriors.

Honestly, Forster's blatant cribbing of angles from straight-to-USA Up All Night movies wouldn't be so bad, if the script wasn't so goddamn boring. The film's dramatic subject matter could have been more interesting with a little more intimacy or realism; but what tries to pass itself off as subtlety is merely a veil for the characters' one-dimensionality. Besides, who wants to sit around listening to a bunch of rich ladies with permanent waves talk about their stupid babies?