Directed by Bernard Rose
I am so completely tempted to go Spinal Tap and just leave it with that one word, but dammit, I’m hurt, I’m angry, and I’m gonna vent.
A better title for this than SX_ Tape would be Everything Not To Do In A Found Footage Movie.
I have seen a lot of found footage movies. I actually like the genre. Seriously. I’m not sick of it yet, although SX_ Tape doesn’t exactly make me want to dive into another one soon.
This is the worst found footage movie I’ve ever seen.
Yes, I know that’s a bold statement. I’m gonna explain why, and I’m going to spoil the living crap out of this one while I’m doing it, because you won’t care and it won’t matter and this thing deserves it. This movie commits the seven deadly sins of found footage films.
The movie opens with Jill (Caitlyn Folley) bandaged and shaken, in a police interview room. In this two or three minute scene, we find out that Jill clearly has no memory of what has happened, but that her boyfriend is dead and two other people are missing. The cop says “we found the tape” and then we cut to the tape, which is the bulk of the movie.
Check that paragraph again. The movie starts by telling you exactly what happens. Jill survives, her boyfriend dies, and two others are missing. Protip: there are only two other characters.
The movie attempts to commit suicide in the first scene, warning viewers to leave before it really starts. I commend it’s valid attempt, but I had to review this stinker, so I was trapped.
The main film starts with scenes that introduce some basic facts. Jill is a talented artist. Adam is a filmmaker. They’re young, horny, and in love. Jill is heavily into taking risks, showing off her assets, and generally being a chaos-hungry nymphette. Adam is reluctant, but really wants footage of them getting busy for his ‘movie’.
Found footage sin number one: Spend WAY too much time where absolutely nothing happens. It may not have been long but it felt like 20 minutes or more.
Eventually they wander upon an abandoned hospital. Yes, the legendary Linda Vista hospital. After giving some bullcrap explanation that it was used to house horny women in the old days when being horny and female meant you were mentally ill, Jill sneaks in. Adam takes about 97 hours to finally follow her. I really wish I was exaggerating, it takes them forever to get inside the frickin’ building.
Found footage sin number two: pad your movie as much as possible, because you have 40 minutes of story and FX, but need at least 80-90 to sell it as a feature. SO much padding before they get into the building.
Then they go into the building, and things REALLY take off!
Oh, wait, no they don’t. They wander around for another big chunk of time. It’s like the director expected the building to add tension on it’s own. Like if he shot enough footage something paranormal would happen and he’d save on the FX budget. I’d guess close to half of the run time of this film is made up of Adam wandering through the halls of the hospital as nothing happens, either alone or with the other characters. No exaggeration.
Finally, they come upon a room with restraints, Jill winds up in them, Adam inexplicably walks off, and a ghost appears and apparently possesses Jill. Adam returns. Then they have sex, and wander around some more. Finally, Jill is acting weird and some random found footage-y stuff happens (things rolling on their own) so they decide to leave.
Found footage sin number three: Random jump scares that aren’t scares at all, like people randomly jumping in front of other characters. Here, they actually say boo. Screw you, audience.
Found footage sin number four: Having a score and orchestra/noise hits to announce scares. It’s found footage, played as 100% original footage with no editing…and there’s a score?
Found footage sin number five: Keep on shooting, no matter what happens. Girlfriend freaking out, has a massive uncontrollable nosebleed, and weird crap is happening? Hang onto that camera, dude!
They find their way out. Their car is towed away, for being parked in front of the forbidden hospital. (Ignore that car unrelated to the production 20 feet in front of theirs.) Jill calls her friends for a ride, who seal the doom on this one.
Her friends are cartoons, not characters. The guy is some sort of male model cum tagger who is instantly fascinated by the hospital. His girl is supposed to be interested in DoucheNozzle (which shall be his name forevermore) to the point that she tolerates his constant groping and flirting with Jill. Adam also tolerates it, despite some weaksauce protestations, because he is clearly trying to be as unsympathetic as possible so we don’t mourn his passing. Thoughtful of the little wimp.
They also leave their car parked in the exact same spot where Jill’s car was towed. No problem there, nobody even mentions it. I guess it’ll get towed, and they’ll call two more friends, until they’ve built a little commune of DoucheNozzles at the former hospital. It shall be called Doucheville and they shall provide quality, hand-crafted tagging to the greater Los Angeles area in the tradition of the Doucheville founding fathers.
For absolutely no reason besides DN constantly saying “Let’s just check it out“, they go BACK into the building. Needless to say, all kinds of wacky crap goes on now that we don’t have much running time left. The characters split up, as idiots in film are wont to do.
Found footage sin number six: Cameras experience technical glitches whenever pointing at something paranormal. Sure, it’s annoying, but it saves on the FX budget when the audience can’t see what’s happening because the picture is all warped!
I barely remember the rest of the movie. It involves Adam yelling “JILL!” a lot, DoucheNozzle yelling “Let’s just check it out!” and a bunch of wandering around while random images of women in hospital gowns appear on the camera.
Finally Jill is reunited with her lover boy and it’s eventually revealed that she’s murdered the other couple after screwing them both. She then murders Adam. All of which the movie told you in the first five minutes.
Now here’s where it gets weird.
Found footage sin number seven: If you don’t have an ending, just do something weird and hope no one cares! That’s called a twist and audiences love those!
We cut to footage from the 80’s of a patient being sedated by a doctor and then molested. I’m guessing this is supposed to be the patient who possessed Jill. I have no idea why they chose to share this little bit of film to us, as it has nothing to do with the film.
And then…the topper. The big finale. The biggest What The Actual Precise Fuck moment I’ve ever seen in a film.
We cut to a new camera. We see a glimpse of the guy operating the camera, it isn’t Adam or anyone else we’ve met. We see Jill, decked out in a formal gown, made up all pretty, and they’re getting hot and heavy. She unzips his pants, pulls out his dick (pixelated, thankfully) and starts to go down on him before she rips it off with her teeth. End of tape. End credits.
That’s it. End of movie. Now, we saw her in the police station. They say they found the tape, that we watch. In this tape she clearly murders the complete shit out of three people. Then we’re supposed to see her some time later biting some guy’s junk in half? Huh?
I’ve never seen a director just clearly say “Fuck it, I’m going home” like this before. The fact that this was supposedly directed by Bernard Candyman Rose baffles me completely. I’m choosing to believe this is another Bernard Rose, and it’s all a big mistake. This Bernard Rose has to be a coked-up frat boy whose dad gave him a few grand to make a film, and some idiot thought he was the Candyman guy. Hey, maybe it’s the guy who played DoucheNozzle! That’d make me feel better.
Please do not mistake any snarky humor in this review to suggest that this is a “so bad it’s good” movie. It’s just boring, tedious, awful, horrible, very bad in an absolutely no good at all way.
There is ONE THING, one single, solitary thing that buys this thing half a knife. That’s Caitlyn Folley who is much better than this thing deserved. She’s charming, courageous, and extremely solid as Jill despite the nonexistent plot and script. You want to like her in the beginning but realize she’s just too chaotic to be a good person, and then develop real sympathy for her (or the spirit in her?) as she breaks down in the asylum. I don’t know how they got her for this film, but they don’t deserve her, and I really hope she can move past this into films that aren’t built to be object lessons in film courses.
Don’t watch this movie. Don’t even touch the case in a store. Don’t watch a trailer. Just steer completely clear and consider yourself the better for it.
1/2 out of 5
The Hatred Review – A History Lesson Dug Up From The Depths Of Hell
Starring Zelda Adams, Lulu Adams, John Law
Directed by John Law
I don’t know about the scholastic interests the masses had (or have) that read all of the killer nuggets that get cranked out on this site, but when I was an academic turd, one of my true passions was history, and it was one of the only subjects that managed to hold my interest, and when the opportunity arose to check out John Law’s ultra-nightmarish feature, The Hatred – I was ready to crack the books once again.
The setting is the Blackfoot Territory in the late 1800s, and the pains of a lengthy conflict have taken their toll on the remaining soldiers as food has become scarce, and the film picks up with soldiers on the march in the brutal cold and snow covered mountainside. In tow is a P.O.W. (Law), and the decision is made by the soldiers to execute him in earnest instead of having to shorten their rations by feeding him, so he is then hung (pretty harshly done), and left to rot as the uniformed men trudge along. A short time later the group encounters a small family on the fringes of the territory, and when the demands for food are rebuked, the slaughter is on and the only survivor is a young girl (Adams) who prays to an oblivious god that she can one day reap the seeds of revenge upon those who’ve murdered her family. We all know that there are usually two sides to any story, and when the good ear isn’t listening, the evil one turns its direction towards those who need it most, and that’s when the Devil obliges.
The answer to the young girl’s prayers comes in the resurrection of the prisoner that was hung a short time ago, and he has been dubbed “Vengeance” – together their goal will be achieved by harshly dishing out some retribution, and the way it’s presented is drawn-out, almost like you’re strapped into the front-row pew of a hellfire-cathedral and force-fed the sermon of an evil voice from the South side of the tracks. It’s vicious and beautiful all at once, Law’s direction gives this visually-striking presentation all the bells and whistles to please even the harshest of critics (hell, you’re reading the words of one right now). The performances, while a bit stoic in nature, still convey that overall perception of a wrong that demands to be righted, no matter how morally mishandled it might be. Overall, I can absolutely recommend The Hatred for not only those wanting a period-piece with ferocious-artistry, but for others who continue to pray with no response, and are curious to see what the other side can offer.
The Hatred is a visually-appealing look into the eyes of animus, and all of the beauty of returning the harm to those who have awarded it to others.
Before We Vanish Review – A Quirky and Original Take on Alien Invasions
Starring Masami Nagasawa, Ryûhei Matsuda, Hiroki Hasegawa
Written by Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa
During the J-horror rampage of the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Kairo (aka Pulse). A dark, depressing, and morose tale of ghosts that use the internet to spread across the world, the film’s almost suffocatingly gloomy atmosphere pervaded across every frame of the film. Because of my love of this film, I was eager to see the director’s upcoming movie Sanpo Suru Shinryakusha (aka Before We Vanish), which follows three aliens who recently arrived on Earth and are preparing to bring about an alien invasion that will wipe humanity from the face of the planet. Imagine my surprise when the film turned out to be barely a horror title but was instead a quirky and surreal dramedy that tugged at my heartstrings.
Admittedly, I was thrown completely for a loop as the film begins with a scene that feels perfectly at home in a horror film. Akira (Tsunematsu), a teenage girl, goes home and we enter moments later to blood splashed on the walls and floor and bodies strewn about. However, the disturbing visuals are spun around as the young girl walks down a highway, her clothes and face streaked with blood, Yusuke Hayashi’s music taking on a lighthearted, almost jaunty attitude. From there, we learn of the other two aliens (yes, she’s an alien and it’s not a secret or a twist, so no spoilers there): Amano (Takasugi), who is a young man that convinces a sleazy reporter, Sakurai (Hasegawa), of his true form and tasks Sakurai with being his guide, and Shinji (Matsuda), the estranged husband of Narumi (Nagasawa).
What sets these aliens, and their mission, apart from other invasion thrillers is their means of gathering information. They’re not interested in meeting leaders nor do they capture people for nefarious experimentations. Rather, they steal “concepts” from the minds of people, such as “family”, “possession”, or “pest”. Once these concepts are taken, the victim no longer has that value in their mind, freed from its constraints.
While this may seem like a form of brainwashing, Kurosawa instead plays with the idea that maybe knowing too much is what holds us back from true happiness. A man obsessed with staking claim to his family home learns to see the world outside of its walls when “possession” is no longer a part of his life. A touchy boss enters a state of child-like glee after “work” has been taken. That being said, there are other victims who are left as little more than husks.
Overly long at 130 minutes, the film does take its time showing the differences between the aliens and their individual behaviors. Amano and Akira are casually ruthless, willing to do whatever it takes to send a beacon to begin the alien invasion, no matter how many must die along the way, while Shinji is the curious and almost open-minded one, whose personal journey finds him at one point asking a priest to envision and describe “love”, a concept that is so individualistic and personal that it can’t be taken, much less fathomed, by this alien being. While many of these scenes are necessary, they could have easily been edited down to shave 10-15 minutes, making the film flow a bit more smoothly.
While the film begins on a dark note, there is a scene in the third act that is so pure and moving that tears immediately filled my eyes and I choked up a little. It’s a moment of both sacrifice and understanding, one that brings a recurring thread in the story full circle.
With every passing minute, Before We Vanish makes it clear that it’s much more horror-adjacent than horror. An alien invasion thriller with ultimate stakes, it will certainly have appeal to genre fans. That being said, those who go in expecting action, violence, and terror will certainly be disappointed. But those whose mind is a bit more open to a wider range of possibilities will find a delightful story that attempts to find out what it means to be human, even if we have to learn the lesson from an alien.
Before We Vanish is a beautiful, wonderful tale that explores what it means to be human when faced with the threat of extinction.
Delirium Review – Bros, Cameras And A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin On
Starring Mike C. Manning, Griffin Freeman, Ryan Pinkston
Directed by Johnny Martin
When will these testosterone-overloaded frat bros with cameras ever learn that pissing off the evil souls of the departed all in the name of amusement won’t get you anywhere but wrecked? Same goes for filmmakers: when will they learn that found-footage exploits set in a house of pure sadism are something of a wrung-out affectation? Oh well, as long as people keep renting them, they’ll continue to get manufactured…which might or might not be to the benefit of the horror film-watching populous.
Delirium opens with a poor lad, strapped with a GoPro, running for his life through a labyrinth of haunted territory, praying for an escape…and it’s a foregone conclusion as to what happens to this trespassing individual. We then relocate our focus towards a collection of (ahem), “gentlemen” self-titled as The Hell Gang, and their escapades are about as profound as their grasp on the English language and its verbiage. The words “dude”, creepy”, and the term “what the fuck” are thrown about so much in this movie it’ll make your head spin to the point of regurgitation. Anyway, their interest in the home of the Brandt clan is more piqued now than ever, especially considering one of their own has gone missing, and they’ve apparently got the gonads to load up the cameras, and traverse the property after-hours, and against the warnings of the local law-enforcement, who surprisingly are just inadequate enough to ignore a dangerous situation. The cursed family and the residence has quite the illustrious and bleak history, and it’s ripe for these pseudo-snoopers to poke around in.
Usually I’m curb-stomping these first person POV movies until there’s nothing left but a mash of blood, snot and hair left on the cement, but Martin’s direction takes the “footage” a little bit outside of the box, with steadier shots (sometimes) and a bit more focus on the characters as they go about their business. Also, there are a few genuinely spooky scenes to speak of involving the possession of bodies, but there really isn’t much more to crow about, as the plot’s basically a retread of many films before it, and with this collection of borderline-douches manning the recording equipment, it’s a sad state of affairs we’re in that something such as this has crept its way towards us all again. I’m always down for jumping into a cold grave, especially when there could be a sweet prize to be dug up in all that dirt, but Delirium was one of those movies that never let you find your footing, even after you’ve clawed your way through all of the funereal sediment – take a hard pass on this one.
Got about a half-dozen bros with cameras and a wanton will to get slaughtered on camera, all the while repetitively uttering the same phrases all damn day long? Then my friends, you’ve got yourself a horror movie!
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