Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Half Moon

Time to settle in to watch that movie named after a phase of the moon, filled with slow breathy dialogue, and starring a muscular werewolf named Jacob... No, not that one... This one's called Half Moon and is seems to be an elaborate ruse to gauge whether the success of the Twilight stories was completely due to every aspect of those stories aside from the vampires.

Judging from the title, tagline, and everything else about this movie, it might be tempting to believe that it is going to be a movie about werewolves... but it really is much more literally "Twilight without the vampires" in that there's only one sequence featuring a werewolf that only lasts a couple of minutes, while the rest is two characters quietly talking about things that an audience will not find interesting.

Half Moon is the story of Rose (Tori Black), a woman with an ordinary job albeit with a boss that engages in what most would consider "sexual harassment."

So she's a sad prostitute... or at least one of her two personalities is a sad prostitute. Strangely enough, Rose seems to be composed of one part Tori Black-styled real person, and one part ghetto-caricature.

Ghetto-Rose seems pretty much resigned to her life and accepting of the way things are in her world. Tori-Rose doesn't seem nearly as satisfied and seems much more worried about the threat posed by her dangerous pimp.

Ghetto-Rose also uses a ridiculous accent that I'd really rather blame on Tori Black trying a little too hard, except that I've unfortunately actually heard a few people use it. So maybe it's a perfect rendition of what she was going for, it's hard to say.

What people who use that accent don't usually do though is switch between using it and not, over and over... sometimes in mid-sentence. Also, when that person is talking to someone who looks like the spawn of Colin Farrell and Javier Bardem and asks him "What's wrong with the way I talk?" he will never respond the way he does in Half Moon, which is "Well, you don't have an accent."

Pictured: A deaf man.

After having received important advice from her pimp such as "Listen... If I call you, make sure you answer the phone on the first ring... unless you got a dick in your mouth," Rose hits the street.

She quickly meets up with a friend, holds her bag while she pees in an alley and gets herself arrested, then answers the woman's phone when her john, Jacob, jingles her phone. Contrary to her pimp-rules, Rose decides to head off to meet the guy herself in his motel.

For what seems like at least the middle third of the movie, Rose and Jacob sit across from each other and exchange strange, mostly uninteresting dialogue about such erotic topics as Pete Rose, themselves as children, and the Tom & Jerry cartoons. Apparently though, those are exactly the things that get Rose worked up into a sexual frenzy, as she leaps up at the end and starts giving him a lapdance...

...that he's not into at all.

He was really connecting to Rose when they were talking and now that she's acting like she's at work again it seems to ruin it for him. He fixes that by having sex with her.

Regardless of how the rest of the movie went, I kind of expected the inevitable sex scene to be pretty natural looking considering it's in the hands of an award-winning professional. It actually kind of starts out that way, but it immediately gets pretty strange.

First of all, while they're writhing nondescriptly, they start taking turns reaching out with their right hands and squeezing each other's left breast.

That's followed by Jacob gradually slipping off the side of her until it looks like he's nearly perpendicular to her and almost off the bed... while she just lays on her back and keeps wiggling up and down like nothing's changed. It's really bizarre.

When that's all over, Rose goes into his bathroom and finds a bag with things like rope, duct tape, and a gun in it. She thinks she has found his "rape kit," so now that most of the movie is over we've hit our first real story conflict.

Pictured: Conflict

Pictured: Conflict (personality #2)

There's a struggle, Jacob gets sedated, the pimp comes over, and Jacob ends up tied to a chair. I found it pretty amusing that the pimp was doing such a horrible job at tying up the guy, but Tori Black seemed to know exactly how to properly tie a person up to a piece of furniture. She worked quickly and neatly and was done almost immediately. In the next shot the pimp's rope has fallen off already and is just draped over Jacob's torso but Tori's is still going strong. I have to be honest, I'd never really considered all the secondary skills a porn star could bring to the set like that until I saw that scene.

At this point we're just a few minutes from the credits and the werewolf-angle is introduced to the story. It's apparently very important that Jacob get to his werewolf-doctor (veterinarian?) before the moon turns him into a monster. Rose is quickly convinced and unties him, but then the pimp comes back, sees that happening and beats up Rose for a while.

While he was busy with that, Jacob was doing this:

A werewolf movie with a transformation sequence that makes the Toxic Avenger's transformation look cutting-edge is just not prioritizing properly.

The werewolf stiffly lumbers a step or two towards the pimp...

and clumsily high-fives his hand off before turning to Rose.

The scene fades out, then back in. The doctor has arrived now and is now treating Rose with his special anti-werewolf medicine.

From what I saw, anti-werewolf medicine involves dropping brown M&M's into Kool-Aid that's mixed in the cut-off bottom of a plastic water bottle. As you might imagine, that sort of anti-werewolf medicine is bullshit, so we're left with a shot of Rose back on the street, presumably looking for a victim to prostitute herself to, then eat... or maybe not. It's never too clear what the werewolf does to it's victims in this movie. There's a long intro scene where we see someone who's apparently the last girl to spend the night with our werewolf and there's not really any indication that he did anything to her at all.

Except maybe give her the ability to sleep through the
sound of someone vacuuming in the morning.

That girl is Tori Black's fellow Penthouse-pet, Shawna Lenee by the way. I believe the casting was done by L.A. Direct Models, so pretty much everyone in the movie is from the porn industry.

In the end, nothing is really resolved, nothing really even happens, but we're treated to one last shot of the moon.

I haven't mentioned the moon shots until now, but we see them between every major scene transition basically. In what may be the most puzzling thing about this movie, they created a ridiculous CGI cityscape and glowing moon rather than just pointing the camera up.

One thing you probably can't help but noting is that that's also not a "half moon." I don't believe that phrase is ever even said in the movie. As far as I can tell the movie is in no way related to the title.

I might not have held the bad CGI skyline against a film like this, except for one thing. In a werewolf movie that's only really made interesting because of its cast of pornstars, we're presented with more shots of that silly moon than we are of the werewolf or the pornstars. I really can't imagine what niche audience that prioritization might have been meant for, but I'm guessing that this film isn't going to make it to them.

Tori Black does about as well as I'd expected in her role. She's doesn't really have the acting abilities to pull off most emotional extremes gracefully, but when she's not in a ridiculous character and is acting like a regular person her real personality pops out long enough to charm you completely. If you ignore the strange little performance hiccups when she unnecessarily ventures outside of her range and into some weird extremes, you'll find that she does actually make for a believable and genuinely likable character... something which I can hardly ever say about actresses filling the generic role of pretty-girl-protagonist in even the larger-budget horror movies.

This movie was advertised as Tori Black's breakout mainstream role, and that's probably the reason most people will see it. If you were interested with seeing her in a mainstream role though, you'll probably find that you still are after seeing this movie, because that's not really what this is. This is just what happens when a pornstar directs a porn movie and leaves out all the sex.

I'll leave you with this screen capture of the beginning of the credits. Yes, they start with a misspelled word... and that pretty much sums up the whole movie. It's made by a guy who didn't care enough to bother proofreading.

In the credits we also see that Tori Black gets the Executive Producer credit too. According to Jason Toler, Tori "agreed to co finance part of the budget of the film on the condition that ... she be repaid her investment from the gross receipts when the film received distribution." Judging by her Twitter feed she's now owed quite a lot of money and hasn't been repaid for this little masterpiece.

If you're interested in picking this up on DVD, you can head to Breaking Glass Pictures and enter the code "halfmoon" at checkout for a $7 discount.


  1. Great review. She wants us to boycott Half Moon. That shouldn't be a problem. I implore you to check out my review.

    I'm especially proud of this line:

    "It's a love scene but Tori Black makes it seem like she's on the 5th hour of a gangbang orgy."

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  2. Glad to see you actually tallied all the werewolves, CGI moons, and breasts...

    Throughout the movie it seemed like no one in charge really cared what sort of movie they were turning out, but with those 3 items prioritized in such a backwards order I'm beginning to think that they were actually actively working against the movie.

  3. Also, after your comment I'm surprised that "Tori Black gangbang orgy" hasn't become my top-ranking keyword already... I'm sure it's coming

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