Directed by Scott Bates and Lee Alliston
Distributed by Exile Media Group
Offering a quick, cheap and effective method of delivering cinematic frights, the “found footage” subgenre continues to thrive as works of wildly varying quality fly at us from all over the globe. Now, straight from Great Britain comes Scott Bates and Lee Alliston’s home-grown The Tapes.
In the interest of refusing to fritter away too many more precious moments of personal existence on this particular fecal nugget, let’s just get straight to the point: The Tapes is awful. Inexcusably, inexorably, mind-searingly awful.
The film operates under the pretense that what the audience is witnessing are legitimate tapes chronicling the shocking fate of three teenagers who went missing back in 2008. For some reason, the parents have now decided that 2011 is the right time to let the public see what happened to them, though we’re told quite plainly in the opening moments that the police do not condone or approve of the material being made public. Not that it matters.
Said trio of teens are Nathan, Gemma and Dan. Setting out to, of all things, record Gemma’s audition video for submission to the torrid reality television spectacle-of-nonsense Big Brother (or should that be Big Bravvah?), they stop off at a pub to grab a drink. When a local farmer requests that they cease filming, a flippant discussion with a bar employee reveals that the farmer himself is a well known “swinger” who hosts sex parties up at his farm on the weekends.
Pound signs in their eyes, the brain-dead trio come to the conclusion that since they have a couple of cameras on them and it is indeed the weekend, they ought to pop off to the farm where they can find a couple of hidden vantage points from which they can record the ensuing orgy and make some easy cash selling the footage on the internet. Obviously, things aren’t quite so simple so after spending an unrelentingly boring and extensive length of time waiting in the farmer’s barn for something to happen, they realise to their horror that they’ve walked right into the middle of a satanic cult’s ritual grounds. This being a “found footage” flick, it isn’t much of a stretch to assume that it doesn’t end well for them.
Not that that’s a particularly bad thing, as 10 minutes into The Tapes you’ll be wishing that this were merely a quick recording of an automotive disaster, or maybe a Final Destination type show reel of death through which you could witness the recurring, violent demises of these complete and utter imbeciles again and again. No such luck, unfortunately. The less than 80-minute runtime of The Tapes feels like a lifetime, stuck with three of the most hideously unlikable, irredeemable British urban youths to have desecrated the genre’s small screens in quite some time. Wishes for something, ANYTHING, to make them just shut the fuck up and die already go unanswered until the obligatory camera-swinging, scream-filled finale. The film’s frights take the form of repeated situations in which one of the hapless idiots spins around only to be face-to-face with a member of the cult. When said cult member is wearing a goggle-eyed horse mask, though, it’s more apt to screech with mirth than fear.
This is completely bottom-of-the-barrel stuff, offering absolutely nothing of any worth in terms of entertainment value, scares, performances, direction, violent shocks, characterisation or imagination. Hell, the name of the cult is even the super-generic “The Brotherhood of Belzeebub” [sic]. If that is meant to be a self-congratulatory joke, it’s one that – like the rest of the film – fails utterly. More likely, it’s simply an indication of the lazy, cynical attitude to the potential returns-to-investment ratio inherent in the subgenre employed by the filmmakers here. Memorable only for how completely dreadful it is (how anyone can think those characters make for suitable protagonists will confound you for days), rather than released to the public The Tapes should have just been erased.
In terms of presentation, Exile Media Group’s release of The Tapes is of perfectly suitable quality for a “found footage” flick, so no complaints there except for the fact you’ll be wishing the audio would cut out after two minutes of listening to the main characters’ inane prattle. In terms of extras, we have a brief behind-the-scenes segment which gives us a few glimpses at casting sessions and scenes in progress. It’s not too bad but offers little insight to the process. Besides that, we have a few short interviews with director Scott Bates and actors Maza, Oceng and Sparkes and a still slideshow to top it all off.
0 out of 5
2 out of 5
Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 164 – THE CLEANSE
Wait no longer, boils and ghouls! Today is the day you’ve been waiting for; today is the day we sink our teeth into 2018’s The Cleanse! What’s that? You’ve never heard of The Cleanse?! Well, neither had we, but horror releases are slim pickings right now, so we take what we can get. At least we can all agree that we’ve been dying to see Johnny Galecki in something other than Big Bang Theory, right? No? Well, fuck. Here’s an episode about his new movie anyway. What are we even doing?
It was crazy of me to think I could help the police, but I’m going to keep researching, keep writing, there are stories that need to be told, so… here’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 164!
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GIRLS NIGHT 2 Review – A Terrifying Halloween Treat
If you love Halloween as much as I do, you probably also love horror films that take place on Halloween. French Writer/Director David Teixeira uses Halloween as the backdrop for his eerie short horror film Girls Night, which we reviewed here. The film tells the story of three friends who decide to play Bloody Mary and end up butchered by a creepy masked killer. Filmmaker Teixeira skillfully uses atmosphere and impressive cinematography to heighten the scares.
Teixeira is back with Girls Night 2 which will be released in October just in time for Halloween. The only survivor of the massacre, Jess (Marina De Sousa), is suffering from nightmares and insomnia because she was blamed for the murder of her friends. It’s a year later and Halloween and she is staying with Pierre (Vincent Conty). To calm Jess’s nerves they decide to watch a short film their friend David (David Teixeira) made, but Jess can’t stay awake. In her dreams the masked killer is back and wielding a pair of scissors. The film ends in utter confusion and a bloody mess. Is it real or is it a dream and who is the killer? You’ll have to watch the short to find out.
The performances are strong and believable and actress Marina De Sousa is remarkable as Jess. Like the original, Girls Night 2 delivers an exciting amount of intensity and panic in only around thirteen minutes. I highly suggest experiencing both of these short films while wearing headphones to really amp up the terror. Girls Night 2 is currently a semi-finalist at Los Angeles Cinefest and winner for Best Foreign Film at the $2 Dollar Film Festival. The award winning short film Girls Night is available on YouTube and you can watch the Girls Night 2 teaser trailer below.
Girls Night 2 delivers an impressive amount of intense scares worthy of a feature length film in just under thirteen minutes.
PANTHER RIDGE Review – When Your New Job Takes You To Interesting Locations
Written by Ryan Swantek
Directed by Ryan Swantek
Director Ryan Swantek’s graphic-take on a young woman unhappy with her looks in White Willow was in my useless opinion, one of the strongest short films to hit the horror genre in quite some time. It was brutal, unflinchingly ruthless to eyeball, and best of all for a first-time directorial effort, there was no apology for what was put before us – let’s venture over to Panther Ridge.
So what comes around in the second-time in the big guy’s chair? Well, when I’d heard that it was a sadistic look into the BDSM scene, I’ll admit I was a bit intrigued (no, I’m not into that stuff, ya kooks) – I’d just honestly hoped for a bit more than what was tossed to me. This particular short film is titled Panther Ridge, and it tells the story of a young lady who is getting a fresh start in a new career – that of a dominatrix, of sorts. As this presentation begins, she’s smack dab in the middle of a dungeon with a very unlucky prisoner and the woman who will be guiding her in her “training.” I’ll tell ya, first days on the job can be stressful, but with the correct forms of relief, you can make it through the day all the while exorcising some pent up demons as well.
Commence brutality upon this poor tied-up fool and the lass roped up across from him, for they know not what lies in store for them next, but rest assured they’ll be making a blood donation whether they want to or not. Unfortunately my self-imposed hype proved to be insurmountable as Swantek’s second time up to the plate resulted (for me, anyway) in a big swing and a miss. What worked in his maiden voyage with Willow was the notion that you were going to witness the repercussions of a tortured soul as she looked in the mirror, whereas this time we’re watching some poor sap get the snot beaten out of him, and I could honestly see the same thing in a number of other productions for a longer stretch of time (if you dig that sort of thing). I’ll await Mr. Swantek’s third production when it’s time, and hopefully it’ll pack more of a sustained punch than this quickie.
Swantek’s sophomore directorial endeavor unfortunately isn’t much more than shock and torture-porn crammed into an abbreviated timeframe – been down this road more than a few times.
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