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Decoys (2003)

by on 2012/10/13

“I’m going to start with a simple question. What do you and the intergalactic bikini team want? World domination, one dick at a time?”

* * *

I’d started to think of Decoys as an X-Files for collegians when a character outright suggests “CSI: New Brunswick”. Fairly accurate in a couple of ways. Not just the narrative content, but the knowing commentary and self-deprecation, like referring to Elias Toufexis’ Roger as Elijah Wood, whom he resembles. (Though I would have said Jonah Hill.)

Shot in wintry Ottawa, Ontario, the action focuses mostly on the campus of St. John’s College, sandwiched in time between Halloween and Christmas. Freshman Luke Callahan (Summer of the Monkeys’ Corey Sevier) and his friends Alex (Meghan Ory), Nathan (Young People Fucking’s Ennis Esmer), and the aforementioned Roger, stumble upon a sorority infiltrated by killer co-eds.

With the possible exception of the final scenes, there are very few surprises. Almost immediately we are shown who the killers are, and how they commit their crimes. The eventual “why” of their actions seems more of an afterthought than a plot driver.

The truth is, “why” has less to do with the characters than their audience. We’re not here for a logical story, at least the filmmakers don’t believe we are. We’re here as an excuse for some mainstream T&A. If you had any doubts, watch the long dolly — at midriff level — through a dorm filled with scantily clad young women. In this world the girls are aggressors, sucking lollipops, and asking “Want a lick?”

At one point, Alex disparages “this whole Animal House thing” in favour of Cronenberg. Her reality is actually a mixed-up mess of the two: goofy talent shows, flashes of black humour, and a detective whose every other word is “puppy”. Trucking shots are over-cranked, corpses have comical expressions, the CGI effects deliberately cheesy.

It’d nearly be a ZAZ production if the cast were all on board, but many are apparently unaware of the tone. It’s a difficult thing to pin down, and there are differing approaches, but some of the actors are cringe-worthy in their moderation, neither over-the-top serious (as with Adam West’s Batman), nor winking at all the absurdity (Matthew Broderick’s Ferris Bueller). And in the case of the lead performance, Sevier gradually trades extremes, initially conscientious, and later psychotic.

Fortunately, it’s all in fun, and I don’t intend to be too critical. A part of the production’s schizoid makeup knows, and exploits, its limits, as if Species developed a healthy sense of humour. Or perhaps if you felt Some Kind of Wonderful was missing an alien conspiracy, then Decoys may well be the perfect movie for you.

* * *

Rated R

94 minutes

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