Directed by Rodman Flender [Other horror films: The Unborn (1991), Leprechaun 2 (1994), Nature of the Beast (2007), Eat Brains Love (2019)]
Idle Hands is one of those movies I caught when I was quite young, so though it’s not my usual style of horror-comedy, I can’t help but feel a tug of nostalgia when revisiting this one. That said, I do think the silliness could have been notched down, and while aspects are decent, I’d be lying if I said I thought the movie was good.
There are so few killer hand movies that, at the very least, they had an interesting premise going into the film. Off the top of my head, The Beast with Five Fingers (1946) and The Hand (1981) are the only two similar movies that come to mind, so I do give props for coming up with something different.
I also give props to the strong cast. Devon Sawa (later in Final Destination) did a great job as the lead, Seth Green and Elden Henson (who I retroactively recognized immediately from the NetFlix Daredevil series, where he played Foggy Nelson) were both pretty good, and Jessica Alba looked quite the angel at times. Some of the performances from Green and Henson (and to be fair, many of those in the movie) were a bit goofy, but that’s more the style of comedy this was going for as opposed to their faults.
As far as the special effects went, I will say they were impressive. There’s a decidedly disgusting scene where the hand was thrown into a microwave, and as it bakes, blood bursts from the fingertips, which was gruesome. The effects behind the hand mostly look good – sharpening the fingers with an electric pencil sharpener even gave a fun and deadly look to the appendage.
Another thing worth mentioning is the strong opening. While much of the time spent with Anton (Sawa’s character) was more on the generic side, we open seeing his parents get killed by a mysterious figure. The suspense isn’t anything overly impressive, but it does have a darker tone than the rest of the movie, and so I definitely appreciated that.
My biggest problem with Idle Hands, and this has been my biggest problem ever since I was a kid, is that sometimes the comedy is just too silly. Some characters return from the dead and go on silly side-quests (which include eating burritos after duct-taping a decapitated head back onto a body) and eventually become guardian angels. It’s just too ridiculous for me, and I don’t care for that aspect of this whatsoever.
If that is your type of humor, though, then I don’t doubt you could do worse than Idle Hands. The performances and story are surprisingly solid, and though at times it might feel like you’re watching a stoner teen comedy as opposed to a particularly terrifying movie, you can have an okay time with this. It’s not my preference, and I do find it below average, but at the end of the day, this horror-comedy hybrid is serviceable.
3 thoughts on “Idle Hands (1999)”