Friday, October 16, 2020

In Aaron's Wolf's TAR, an L.A. landmark is fodder for some foolish, would-be horror

The idea of using Los Angeles' semi-famous La Brea Tar Pits as the sort-of setting and theme for a modern monster movie sounds promising. If only. The resulting misfire, TAR, proves a way-overlong slough through one genre cliché after another, with a script that offers dialog ranging from adequate to stupid and thus provides a decent cast with a nowhere-near-decent opportunity to even look good, let alone shine. 

I'm afraid there is but one person to blame for most of this, actor/writer/director Aaron Wolf (shown below) who appears to be a  triple threat -- but in the negative, rather than positive, meaning of that word. If TrustMovies had not agreed to review this one, he likely would have stopped watching midway, if not sooner.

Mr. Wolf (shown above) is an attractive enough performer but as co-writer (with Timothy Nuttall) and director, he allows for snail-like pacing until one wants to scream, Get on with it!, while some of the inane dialog -- particularly that involving the usual dumb, overweight and over-sexed best friend (played by poor Sandy Danto, below) -- becomes cringe-inducingly obvious and expected

The movie posits a seen-better-days business located in the area of the Pits that is now forced to close and must move out completely by the following morning or face a huge monetary payment. Simultaneously, a long gestating Tar Pitts monster is somehow unleashed and of course wreaks havoc on our gang of employees, family, lovers and friends. (Below is Timothy Bottoms as the uber-controlling paterfamilias.) 

Far too early on the electricity goes out (not simply at the location but in the writing, direction and performances, too), leaving us viewers in the usual gray, muddy semi-darkness that soon becomes boring to view but does provide the chance to fudge on any sharp, easily-seen visual effects. (The monster himself proves no big deal visually, in any case.)

Above is Tiffany Shepis, playing the employee with "psychic powers" who's not nearly as good at predicting as she imagines, and below is our old and always fun-to-watch friend Graham Greene as the local indigenous storyteller who knows the history of the "monster."

In films like this, there is sometimes fun to be had in guessing the order of who-will-survive?, but Tar doesn't generate enough interest to even manage that. Maybe 20 minutes too long, it's repetitive and tiresome: another pretty good idea for a scary movie wasted in mediocrity. But then, maybe younger folk who have not yet seen a lifetime of this kind of thing might find some fright and/or amusement here. (That's the movie's zaftig and relatively charming sex symbol, played by Nicole Alexandra Shipley, below.)

From 1091 Pictures and running 99 minutes, Tar hits digital streaming, available to purchase this coming Tuesday, October 20, and for rental the following Tuesday, October 27. To maybe find a theater or drive-in near you, click here then click on the various embedded links.

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