The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan

"TEMPLE"

Temple

Temple is a 77-minute horror movie where the first genuinely horrific thing occurs at the 67-minute mark. That leaves an excess of time to bore the audience, which the film most certainly does. The vast majority of it is pointless buildup to a “shock” ending that is both unconvincing and unearned. Making a bad horror movie is relatively easy; people do it all the time. Making one that's so agonizingly dull, on the other hand, is a real accomplishment.

The story involves three American tourists: Kate (Natalia Warner), her boyfriend James (Brandon Sklenar), and her depressed platonic friend Christopher (Logan Huffman). On a trip to Japan, they find a creepy book in a local bookstore. It contains a map leading to an ancient temple which, unbeknownst to them, has ties to the long-ago disapperance of innocent children. The trio locates the temple and then...well, not too much. Everything unfolds in flashback, as a Japanese detective grills an injured man inside a protective bubble.

Temple takes forever to get to what is ostensibly the entire point. The characters don't actually locate the structure until the final fifteen minutes or so. Once they do, most of what we see is Kate wandering around dimly lit areas with a flashlight. It's every bit as exciting as it sounds. For the entire (mercifully brief) running time, you sit and wait for something to happen. Every passing minute brings with it the belief that the action has to kick in soon. Repeatedly, it doesn't. A couple gore shots conclude the movie, likely because the filmmakers felt they needed to throw the audience a bone after so much tedium.

Slow-burn horror can work, provided there are engaging characters. Temple lacks any. Kate, Christopher, and James are thinly-drawn. The film can't even properly capitalize on the briefly-suggested notion that Christopher is secretly in love with Kate. (Because of course he is. Aren't platonic friends in movies always nursing a hidden attraction?) At one point, Kate reveals something she's hiding from James – something that could end their relationship if he finds out. The potential is there to introduce some drama. Instead, the matter is dropped and never mentioned again.

The really disappointing thing about Temple is that it was written by Simon Barrett, who previously wrote You're Next, Blair Witch, and The Guest. His screenplays are usually far more developed and ambitious than the one he wrote here, which feels like an outline. The opening credits provide a backstory about the children, yet nothing ever comes of it, almost as though the film is trying to trick you into thinking that something really creepy is going to occur.

In the end, Temple is an endurance test to see how much of nothing a viewer can take before daydreaming, playing a cell phone game, or nodding off.

(1/2 out of four)


Temple is unrated, but contains language, some sexuality, and violence. The running time is 1 hour and 17 minutes.


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