Seven in Heaven, from actor-turned-writer-director Chis Eigeman, features Travis Tope as Jude, a dorky but nice kid whose dad is dead. But then he goes to a part and finds a magic closet that takes him to a world where his dad isn’t dead. But that doesn’t matter because everyone’s crazy and mean. And now he has to get back home before he can’t? I don’t know. Neither does the movie.
See, the real problem with all these modern indie horror movies is that they never, ever know how or where to start the damn movie.
The whole premise of Seven in Heaven is that this dorky but nice kid, Jude, accidentally finds himself Narnia’d away to some alternate reality by way of a closet. And now not only is his dad somehow alive, but now everyone’s crazy and mean.
Real classic, fun genre story, right?
Also, it’s only 80 minutes. So there’s absolutely no time to waste, right?
Well, apparently Seven in Heaven thinks the real story is in all the exposition leading up to the party at the house where this magic closet exists and the party itself. And while it’s only eighty minutes long, it thought to fill its first ten minutes with zero conflict and way too much random, lazy exposition. It’s just Jude struggling to write his English paper and talking with random characters who will show up as alternate versions of themselves later. Worse, the next ten is just random, boring high school party antics until Jude finds himself somewhere else.
Now compare this to Back to the Future, which shares a similar basic set up in its first act. We meet Michael J. Fox’s Marty by seeing his ties to a mad scientist and desire to be a rock star, followed by a quick tour of his small hometown (specifically the town square, where a lot of key scenes will happen), his lackluster school life (where more key scenes happen), and then his miserable home life where we meet his parents and see how miserable they are too. And then before Marty’s spirited away to Narnia where he has to re-contextualize everything he thought he ever knew about his world, we also get to see a test run of the DeLorean-turned-time machine and a terrorist attack and car chase scene.
One builds a world and tells a story while another just drops a bunch of information on you while slowly taking its time to get to the point. Kinda like an old dog that shits all over the floor as it slowly makes its way outside.
I think what really bothers me about this movie is that the whole point of it is to show this nice but unhappy kid in a world where things played out differently. But it’s such a drastic change. And it’s seemingly random. His dad is alive but mean for some reason. He grew up with different friends. He has completely different tastes in music and clothes. People are more violent for some reason. And it’s ultimately more about Jude being freaked out and trying to get home than it is about Jude trying to better understand himself and those around him.
And if that were gonna be the case–if they were just going to throw Jude into a freaky, cartoonishly wicked version of the “real” world–then why not just start at that point? Why waste time showing us all these characters and relationships that don’t really matter? Just make it about a kid going into a nightmare world where everything he knows is just bonkers. Have fun with it.
In short, stop wasting my goddamn time.