The Surge (2002)

movie_208726I guess it’s too much to ask for a good time from a film from The Asylum, but I’m an ever so optimistic movie watcher. Some would say naive, in fact. “The Surge,” also known as “The Secret Craft” also known as “The Source,” has a relatively good idea on its shoulder that could be turned in to something of a magnificent low budget epic if it really had some talent in its corner. Alas it doesn’t, thus we’re subjected to what is primarily a really bad rip-off of “The Craft.”

Four kids, all of whom are outcasts in their society, find a secret source of ultimate power that grants them individual abilities that transform them in to gods. The teens of course become corrupted by the power, while one stands for good and decides to put a stop to their madness and reign of violence. Having a similar premise would be easy to get around if director Steve Taylor brought something in the way of flair and innovation to the proceedings. Instead, it’s a typical Asylum production through and through, beginning with the acting. The performances from every single member of the cast is laughable and embarrassing.

Often times the supporting characters are obviously dubbed by American voices (since this was primarily filmed in Europe), and the four characters that the film places the weight on are all vapid, one-dimensional clichés played by four very untalented individuals who can barely deliver one line of dialogue let alone whole monologues and diatribes. I hate to single anyone out, but Ashley Frank is especially awful as the flower child Phoebe whose own personality is ambiguous and questionable from the minute she’s introduced. Is she a nerd or a hippy? Is she a social outcast or a self appointed pariah? About ninety percent of the dialogue delivered by Frank and co. will induce unintentional laughter from the audience, and they bog down what could potentially be a rather excellent indie about super powered teens and the handling of god-like power in a cruel world.

And don’t even get me started on Melissa Reneé Martin’s performance. The script doesn’t know what to do with much of what occurs, so it basically takes its cues from “The Craft,” offering up an abundance of scenes where the characters relish in their powers, test them out on one another, and inevitably take down class rivals and bullies in their efforts to reach god-like status. “The Surge” has plenty of places it can go thematically, but thanks to its fairly low budget and limited scenery it’s reduced to a hackneyed and barely watchable farce that just inspires viewers to see “The Craft,” instead. What a shame. Take a perfectly good premise, hand it to the Asylum, and watch how wrong it all goes. From laughable performances, horrible special effects, and a script that goes nowhere, “The Surge” has potential and fails to deliver on all counts.