Movie Review: In the name of all that’s holy, don’t get stuck in “Tar”

Graham Greene’s been a favorite of mine among character actors for years — going back to “Dances with Wolves,” “Northern Exposure,” on through “Transamerica” and “Wind River.”

He’s made a career of playing sages with a touch of whimsy, often Native American (First Nations, as he’s a Canadian member of the Oneida Tribe).

He’s pretty much the sole saving grace of “Tar,” clumsy horror comedy set around LA’s famed La Brea Tar Pits. It’s got maybe two laughs in it, and half as many frights.

The hook here is that there’s tar underneath wide swaths of Los Angeles, they’re always digging and stumbling into it, and that not everything that fell into this prehistoric ooze was killed, leaving only its bones behind.

Co-writer/director and star Aaron Wolf hasn’t directed or acted in anything that’s grabbed anybody’s attention. And his inability to project terror, or even keep a straight face the first time his character Zachary spies “The Man of the Tar” creature in “Tar” kind of explains why.

Zachary and his Dad (Timothy Bottoms, of “Last Picture Show” fame) and employee Marigold (Tiffany Shepis) and Zach’s pal Ben (Sandy Danto) are racing to pack up and vacate the family “repair” business (There’s zero evidence that there’s anything here that could “repair” anything.). They’ve been evicted.

Ben is the sort of lump that gets things rolling in a horror movie with a “Did you see THAT?”

You’re being paranoid.

“YOU’RE paranoid…It felt like the building burped!”

Something is out there, crawling out of the ooze, maybe the something that the homeless guy, Carl (Greene) tells tourists about at the entrance to the Tar Pits, right across the street from this soon-to-be-demolished office building.

“And then I saw things people don’t want to see,” yarn-spinner Carl intones.

Also among those imperiled this night — Zach’s girlfriend (Emily Peachey), the self-consciously busty accountant down the hall (Nicole Alexandra Shipley) and the accountant’s secretary (Dani Fernandez).

There’s some shrieking and some oozing and a little “I save your life, you make out with me” and “I’ve got this all under control.”

None of it’s funny, nothing here is the least bit frightening.

Wolf squandered production money on pointless pop songs (“Sedona”) for the soundtrack, and screen time on random shots of LA construction projects.

The picture is inert. And there are all these inserts, Wolf in close-up in pretty bad makeup telling “the story” of that night to unseen interrogators. Every film has a whiff of “vanity project” about it. Sometimes, that “vanity” makes you wince.

There’s a whole lot of going nowhere slowly going on here. You might be tempted to make a “stuck-in-the-titular-tar” crack about the pacing, but I’m above that.

Let’s just say this is seriously inept and leave it at that.

MPAA Rating: unrated, violence, near nudity, profanity

Cast: Aaron Wolf, Tiffany Shepis, Nicole Alexandra Shipley, Sandy Danto, Emily Peachey, Timothy Bottoms and Graham Greene.

Credits: Directed by Aaron Wolf, script by Timothy Nuttall and Aaron Wolf. A 1091 release.

Running time: 1:37

MPAA Rating: unrated, violence, near nudity, profanity

Cast: Aaron Wolf, Tiffany Shepis, Nicole Alexandra Shipley, Sandy Danto, Emily Peachey, Timothy Bottoms and Graham Greene.

Credits: Directed by Aaron Wolf, script by Timothy Nuttall and Aaron Wolf. A 1091 release.

Running time: 1:37

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