Jeepers Creepers (2001) director Victor Salva is back with Rosewood Lane (2011), an allegedly petrifying picture of a seemingly idyllic neighbourhood, starring Rose McGowan, Lauren Valez of Dexter fame and Laura Palmer’s dad, Ray Wise. McGowan plays Sonny Blake, a talk-radio psychologist who, following the death of her alcoholic father, moves into his house on Rosewood Lane. Sonny is warned by her creepy neighbour to stay away from the local paper-boy as he is a cunning and dangerous sociopath.
Sonny soon learns this for herself when he knocks on her door and reveals his eerily undeveloped iris and his ability to roll his eyes into the back of his head. He is also incredibly passionate about newspaper sales and he attempts to sell the neighbourhood newcomer a deal on publications. When she refuses, he becomes persistent, sings nursery rhymes on the phone to her whilst she’s at work and intrudes on her home to freak her out by rearranging her ornaments. Sonny becomes exceedingly suspicious of the paperboy and believes he may have killed her father and with the help of two cops and her psychological intuition she sets out to uncover the truth.
Rosewood Lane’s plot is bizarre, but only for the fact that ideas are skirted around rather than committed to. Subplots remain open ended, which suggests they were simply forgotten about and the so-called “truth” Sonny is searching for is carelessly discarded for the sake of a few required ‘scary’ scenes involving a mound of soil, a snorkel and the largest cat-flap known to man. It makes you wonder, with a premise based solely on silliness, why on earth it would take itself so seriously.
All of the characters, including the secondary, are widely disconnected from one another to a point that the film fails to explore any relationships whatsoever, thus making it very hard for you to care about what happens to whom. The problem with the paper-boy as the villain is that the audience is hardly given the opportunity to see him. You wouldn’t recognise poor actor Daniel Ross Owens again if he wedged his foot in your doorway, due to his lack of screen-time and the fact that his “powers” or the reasoning behind his menace remains completely unexplored. It’s also impossible to fear him due to his lack of humanity. In fact, it’s impossible to view him as anything other than stupid.
Central villain aside, another main issue with Rosewood Lane is the female lead. McGowan has changed dramatically since her death-by-garage-door scene in Wes Craven’s original Scream (1996). Her face seems to have become cryogenically frozen beyond recognition, enabling her to omit less emotion than a ventriloquist’s dummy (a scene in which she sheds a tear for her father’s death is excruciating). Salva’s latest is the perfect horror film for people who are terrified of plot-structure, quality acting and coherency, but for anyone else it’s nothing other than a long and painful journey to a tiresome dead end.