SOMEBODY HELP ME
“There are worse things than dying.”
Director/Writer: Christopher B. Stokes / Cast: Marques Houston, Omari Grandberry, Brooklyn Sudano, Alexis Fields, Sonny King, Brittany Oaks, Chris Jones, Jim Wilkey, John Wiltshire.
Body Count: 6
Dire-logue: “I didn’t expect this when I came here.”
Wow…there was so much wrong with this one. That tagline is spot on, there are worse things than dying, and watching Somebody Help Me – surely a hidden message regarding You Got Served director Stokes’ incompetent storytelling ability – is one of them.
In fact, when I sat down to watch it last week, it induced one hell of a headache that Ibuprofen couldn’t combat. When I caught the second half a few days later, I realised that some higher force was simply trying to warn me.
The only notable aspect of this film is that the primary cast members are black. And there’s this cliche that “the black guy always dies first” in slasher films. Now, I thought about this while the film ground on in the background. Somebody Help Me was my 530th slasher film and of all of those, the only occasions I can think of where this happens are Elm Street 4 and Scream 2. That’s not to deny the mortality rate for black characters in the genre – they rarely survive, but they also rarely buy it first. Same goes for slutty cheerleaders.
Anyway, two couples head out to Lake Arrowhead to celebrate nauseatingly sweet Serena’s 21st birthday. They meet some friends and party overnight and into the next day. Then they all disappear until only two guys are left standing. Everyone else has been nabbed by a loony surgeon who keeps them in cages and carries out various fatal procedures on them one by one… Yes, it’s Somebody Hostel Me, For I Am A Lost Turista.
An ear is cut off (fatal?), eyes are plucked out, a girl is scalped, another seemingly dies from being denied her inhaler. It’s soon down to Brendan (Houston, the now-grown-up twins’ neighbour from Sister Sister) to save everyone, aided by a freaky little blonde girl who sings “Ring Around the Roses” whilst on swings.
Final boys rarely work and this is no exception: we just don’t worry about a big guy hiding behind trees or under tables, there’s no fear attachment to his plight. One of several fatal errors the film makes.
Somebody Help Me goes on to pour out cliche after cliche and bothers to explain next to nothing. Who is the little girl? How can the killer survive being stabbed and shot with absolutely no impediments? Why was the phone out of order but working five minutes later?
The “race switch” ensures that all the black kids survive and their white friends all die (bar one who was alive but absent in the obligatory wrapped-in-blankets-outside-ambulance epilogue). The film attempts to make this some kind of running gag: when asked by the sheriff what their missing friends look like, one of them replies “white” having previously been against calling the cops because “we a bunch of black folks in a white town, we don’t want to scare everybody.” Like, seriously, that’s the pinnacle of your creative aptitude?
Agenda or not, I wanted them all to die: black, white, old, young, male, female, transgendered. Save for the weird girl, nobody evoked the slightest bit of interest or empathy and Stokes’ dreadful screenwriting seems only concerned with issues of skin colour over tension, credibility or coherence – it’s like he rented a handful of slasher films and banged out a script in a spare afternoon. Somebody needed help alright and it’s pretty clear it was Christopher Stokes.