I love Mutant Chronicles. I have tried to write this review several times already, and each time I contemplated the thing in itself, my love for it has only continued to grow. The first thing to say is that it is a very bad film, in the truest sense that a film can be bad. It looks horrible, like someone tried to make a model city out of burnt cardboard and human hair.
The camera work is amateurish, with inappropriate close ups and an uneven sense of space, and even more uneven colour palate. Some scenes are completely black, and it legitimately takes time for your eyes to adjust until you realise that there is meant to be a film playing on your screen. It does a rare thing too – it manages to look both extremely cheap and hideously expensive at the same time. They built real sets which would look nice if it weren’t for the fact that they were in this film, and therefore must look like something described from a particularly dower page of Edgar Allan Poe’s dream journal.
More baffling is the presence of John Malkovich, who inhabits a bit part. He has one scene with Ron Perlman where he asks if his is “the one”, putting a weird amount of effort into the line delivery almost as though he’s in a real film.
Ron Perlman’s performance is by far the best thing about the film. He is essentially a warrior monk who has studied the mutant machine through scripture and believes he knows how to destroy it. Sometimes Irish, sometimes American, always incomprehensible, Perlman chews the scenery and waxes lyrical about the importance of faith, giving the film a wonderfully clunky illusion that it is about something deeper than shooting guns and chopping limbs and a weird alien hand that creates the titular mutants, like the world’s worst Build-a-Bear Workshop.
I absolutely love this movie. It gets everything it tries to attempt wrong, from heady themes about what it means to be human to taking leaps of faith. It has ambitious set pieces and really, really wants you to believe in the corporate dystopian nightmare it is postulating. The execution is just too clumsy to take any of it seriously, however, and we can do nought but relish in the joy of its failures. It is a beautiful thing to see a half-baked artistic vision collapse under its own weight.