I cannot stand found footage films. I loathe this genre with every fiber of my being. One might think that being 13 when the film that started it all, The Blair Witch Project, came out, would of impacted me. It would be like being around when the original Halloween came out and propelled one of my favorite genres in Horror, the slasher, into the stratosphere. It wasn’t the same for me. In fact, the only influence The Blair Witch Project had on me was making me realize that any idiot could do a film and that made me want to make a movie more. Otherwise, I thought the flick sucked. I have seen the majority of movies in this genre up until Paranormal Activity 3 and that was when I stopped bothering. Those films were way too polished and obvious in set up.
This film, on the other hand, I found to be pretty decent and not just for a found footage film, but I mean for horror in general. This is one of the more unique films out there at the moment.
So we have our typical group of decent looking, young twenty something’s who run a business. You have the leader, his girlfriend and couple of his friends. Instead of partying though, these kids are Hallopenuers! They’re looking to set up another haunted house and make money, like any typical young capitalist. I would mention their names, but they’re slightly forgettable. That is actually a slight problem with this film. The characters are slightly shallow. Thankfully, they’re real characters and not your run of the mill, drink, fuck and bone types, albeit, some beer is imbibed.
None of the characters are really developed either, this is a typical horror aspect at work and a really sad aspect of the film because it would of made the movie feel like a lot more was at stake and we would care, but atlas, that t’was not to be.
The leader is an awkward character, it’s hard to believe he cares too much about his girlfriend or if he does care, it’s poorly expressed. One dude has a slight thing for the leader’s girlfriend, this is about as much depth as a character gets and is very weird to give a B character the character flaw. Normally flaws are reserved for the hero, not the first victim on the chop block. At one point, we’re told through exposition, about the deep boyhood friendship shared by two of the characters. I know showing this through hours and hours of video tape would be a pain in the ass, but it should have been better than some random being interviewed who is an expert on this case, maybe? I don’t know, it doesn’t really mention his credentials or why the hell he would be interesting to us to listen to, but by today’s “standards”, random internet trolls are all over the documentary scene, so it works. Regardless, the characters, while not as full or well-rounded as they could have been, worked out well enough for the story being told.
The acting was unusually better than most these films have. Although the actors seem like actors, as opposed to genuine characters. Perhaps the fault of a rookie director or maybe just the best take they could muster. Either way, I’ve seen much worse and don’t find this to be a horrible display of acting.
The story was very interesting and well thought out. The tension building was right, it was slow and methodical, with each moment heightening the tension. It’s an old school horror movie in a modern skin and it shows, crafting a fantastic throwback to older 70’s and 80’s horror, where suspense and story was king. This does old school well and only those with a love for the genre of horror will really appreciate this detail, I think. Especially with all the Saw style editing. The only two flaws with the story is the twist, which I saw coming a mile away, but that didn’t detract from the fact it was interesting, even if done before. Also, the last year the hotel being active was late 80’s or early 90’s. It hasn’t operated in nearly 20 years, yet a modern bottle of Jack Daniel’s can be seen, among the artifacts.
This movie looks like shit and that is part of its charm. It is hard to call your movie found footage when your lighting is professionally done and that has always been a gripe I had with these films. This movie feels like a compromise between being able to see the film and what is going on, but looking home movie like and keeping with a home video quality at the same time. In fact, only a few scenes looked awkward, one after a freak out moment in the field seemed out of place, like they didn’t bother to edit it in post, but besides that, it was very well shot and very well lit, creating a great balance between practical lighting and storytelling.
The film, despite its flaws, is very enjoyable. One could point to any number of flaws in the classics and those are still held in high regard, which is why I am focusing on what it did right, as opposed to some of the weaker aspects. This film nailed storytelling. It knew suspense as well as atmosphere, it built well, even if the climax didn’t shock me. Overall, this movie is a welcome addition to the horror genre, regardless. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a film not rely on jump scares, music in place of suspense and a lack of gore, in order to tell a story. This is where it stands out and what it ultimately did best.
I give the movie 3 ½ stars out of 5.
Minor edits to the text: 10/2/18 11:35 pm