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