I was about to call High Voltage a “triumphant tour de force” but then I heard the movie actually had not sought to redefine the word “stultifying.” So I gotta walk some stuff back and start by asking this: Did Luke Wilson rack up some serious gambling debts or does director Alex Keledjian have career-killing dirt on him or what? Because he should not have been anywhere near this set unless he is dating the Craft Services PA. (Mr. Wilson: I am currently single and I, too, can sing sultry gothlet music with the added bonus that I won’t literally fry your face off if you try to smooch me. It will not work out with the Craft Services PA. You can reach me through my editor.)
A posthumously published piece by Stephen Hawking suggested concern over a race of class-stratified Ubermenschen and Stan Lee style Enhanced Persons that was poised to take over the planet, having used technologies like CRISPR to edit all weaknesses, maladies and sub-par characteristics out of their genes according to who had the monetary means to do so. Despite the rarified standard of living in the film industry, I think it’s safe to say that superior intelligence has not taken possession yet. But something has. And somewhere in Heaven, Ed Wood is gazing down and going, “Dang.”
So, in the music business, it’s all about buzz. Like, electricity—because that powers your amps. And your dendrites. And, of course, lightning. So this washed up rocker named Jimmy (hi, David Arquette) meets an annoying dude and the dude meets a shy young nymphet played by Allie Gonino. There is a lot of alternating posturing, chest thumping, bromancing and codependency because it is the music industry and no one wants to feel they are losing relevance.
Next thing you know, total strangers of three different generations are getting the band back together but poor Rachel (Gonino) almost dies of stage fright and endangers Jimmy’s tenuous relationship with A&R man Luke Wilson, who acts like he’s a little above this situation, because my dudes, he is. Like I said, he shouldn’t be anywhere near this mess. Anyhoo. Rachel and her domineering stage mommy leave in a huff because even though she’s a domineering stage mommy and those bitches are always trying to force their innocent teen daughters to grow up way too fast, this one suddenly veers the other way because reasons and demands that her little princess come home and get away from the yucky older men. Then, even though this is Los Angeles where electrical storms almost literally never happen (and seriously literally never when it is not raining), lightning strikes their car and kills both of them.
But then Rachel comes back after being dead for three hours. Only she’s… different. Her stage fright is gone. She likes getting fucked up, barfing in people’s living rooms, acting like it didn’t happen and wearing increasingly slutty outfits. And she enjoys electrocuting people while fucking them now. And the guitarist’s wife kicks him out, not for getting it on with another woman, but having had a fleeting thought or two about it. Bad move. Also, the only charismatic thing in this film is David Arquette’s scarf. Arquette’s got some chops in the comedy arena so this is all very unfortunate. There is a hazy but not undismissable implication that lightning-Rachel is actually possessed by her mom, which is of course a psych dissertation waiting to happen. Also, I am not getting the police conspiracy that is allowing this many bodies to pile up and be characterized as “heart attacks” when the victims are clearly charcoal briquettes.
In fact, given that High Voltage self-identifies as a horror movie, it’s kinda weird how the deaths are totally irrelevant. Indeed, its denouement, in which there is a mass casualty death-by-rock thing: You don’t even see it, you just get told by the disembodied voice of David Arquette that that’s what went down. Hey man, it’s the music industry. Sometimes lightning strikes, KWIM?
There are zero survivors and you won’t be one either. This film might actually turn you into a brain-nomming zombie, or something you’d find stuck to the bottom of your Smokey Joe. The script alone could fry your circuits. “Getting high and rock ‘n roll have always gone together like tits and ass, but now she was just killing for fun.” Or the sincerely iconic last line, “Everyone says death is the ultimate career move. Anyway…it’s a living.”
Director: Alex Keledjian
Writer: Alex Kaledjian
Starring: David Arquette, Alex Gonino, and inexplicably, Luke Wilson
Release Date: October 19, 2018