Last year around this time, Delirium was the middle-of-the-road supernatural offering of choice on Netflix. Now, another supernatural-themed VOD movie, The Super, is poised to find an audience on Netflix. While Delirium had Topher Grace, The Super ups the ante with Val Kilmer. But what Val Kilmer will we get? Is it a ‘Tombstone‘ Kilmer or an ‘Island of Dr Moreau‘ Kilmer.
Following the death of his wife, ex-cop Phil Lodge takes a job as ‘The Super’ of an old New York apartment complex. With his two daughters in tow, Phil slowly discovers that tenants have been mysteriously disappearing. His initial suspicious turn to strange, solitary handyman, Walter. But as haunting nightmares and visions increasingly plague him, Phil is forced to consider more ominous possibilities.
The Super Shows Early Promise
Things kick off with great promise. As far as opening scenes goes, The Super delivers a killer prologue that promises scares, tension, and gory kills. Afterwards, director Stephan Rick handles several early scares with a good mix of competence and skill. No, there isn’t really anything here you haven’t seen in other horror movies. But the scares work and they’re paced out generously. In addition, writer John J. McLaughlin weaves in enough mystery to keep you watching closely.
Where The Super excels in its first third is in its ability to instantly establish an ominous threat hanging over the proceedings.
Though The Super lacks innovation, a few of the jump scares hit their mark. And while the early death scenes are far from gruesome, they’re filmed with enough intensity to distinguish the movie from safer, pre-teen PG-13 fare. Where The Super excels in its first third is in its ability to instantly establish an ominous threat hanging over the proceedings. McLaughlin’s screenplays also gives a big assist with enough red herrings to keep at least one good surprise later in the movie.
The Super Undone By a Terrible Final Act
Sadly, all the early promise can’t save The Super from mediocrity. Things drag to a halt in the movie’s middle act. For all the movie’s early clever ideas and moments, McLaughlin’s story is pretty meatless. And it shows just as the movie should be hitting its stride. Too much is stacked at the ends of The Super, and there’s too little story and character to hold the middle. This isn’t to say that The Super is ever boring, but its length overestimates just how much story it has to tell.
Nonetheless, The Super manages to catch you off-guard before derailing itself.
But if the middle of the movie is a problem, The Super’s ending lands with a thud. McLaughlin’s screenplay diverts what’s an obvious red herring with an initially clever twist. Like the rest of the movie, it’s not an entirely original twist. Nonetheless, The Super manages to catch you off-guard before derailing itself. Aside from some massive illogical plot holes, Stephan Rick can’t bring it all together to deliver a rousing climax. The Super struggles with what feels like should be ‘big moments’. As a result, the ending feels both flat and just a little stupid.
Is Kilmer Still Your Wing-Man?
Where The Super most feels like a straight-to-video effort is in its performances. Val Kilmer’s troubled Hollywood history is well-documented. Certainly, Kilmer is light years removed from his Batman Forever days. As odd handyman Walter, it’s difficult to gauge where Kilmer was aiming with his performance. More off-kilter than creepy, Kilmer’s odd portrayal isn’t gonzo enough to earn the kitsch value of his turn in The Island of Dr. Moreau.
As the titular ‘Super’ of the movie, Patrick John Flueger looks out of his depth. There’s simply not much range to his performance. Intentional or otherwise, Flueger plays it flat or most of the movie, which particularly hurts the climax. Both child actors deliver decent performances. Meanwhile, Billions’ Louisa Krause is given to little to do in the movie.
The Super A Passable Supernatural Thriller
In spite of its early promise, The Super creaks under the weight of a dragging middle and convoluted ending. There’s nothing inherently bad about the movie itself. Like other supernatural Netflix chillers – Delirium, Malevolent, Look Away – there’s more than enough here to keep you watching. You’re just not likely to remember much when it’s all over.