'Beautiful Creatures' pretty hideous

Alice Englert and Alden Ehrenreich. (Handout)

Alice Englert and Alden Ehrenreich. (Handout)

Liz Braun, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:52 PM ET

Beautiful Creatures is a sort of southern gothic coming-of-age Twilight-esque fable about witches, curses and first love. No matter how many genres you mix and match to come up with this thing, it's still not very good.

There's too much going on. See above.

Alden Ehrenreich stars as Ethan, a young man growing up in a sleepy South Carolina backwater. There's nothing going on in his town until the arrival of Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert), a young woman who comes to stay with her uncle, the town recluse/eccentric (Jeremy Irons).

When the mean girls at high school try to get under Lena's skin she gets angry, and when she gets angry, all the windows in the classroom shatter.

Hmmnn -- Lena might be different from the other girls.

In fact, she's a Caster, the proper name, apparently, for witch. Caster of spells, one assumes? Lena's 16th birthday is approaching, at which point she'll discover whether she's a Caster for the dark side or the light. Her cousin (Emmy Rossum) shows up to wreak havoc and give everyone a look at what the dark side offers. A local woman (Emma Thompson) becomes inhabited by the spirit of Lena's supposedly dead mother, a wicked woman, and she too is pulling for Lena to come over to the dark side.

And yet, despite all this persuasion from the dark side, Lena's inclination is to the light. That's what Ethan thinks too, and after they've fallen in love, he coaches her in being true to herself and trusting in her real nature and lots of other self-help type blather.

But there's an old family curse involved that dates back to the Civil War, and consists of lost love and terrible grief, so Lena is not in the clear yet. Further complications involve shootings and shape shiftings, magic tricks, illusions, time bending and all manner of mysteriously things that are surprisingly conducive to falling asleep in a movie theatre. We're nodding off just trying to remember the plot pile-ons that make this one such tough sledding.

The course of true love never did run smooth. Could we leave it at that? A great cast does not in any way improve this movie, and if you're not a 14-year-old looking for a Twilight fix, don't bother. That's all we really meant to say.


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