Levenger Tapes, The (DVD)


Levenger Tapes, The (2016)Directed by Mark Edwin Robinson

Starring Johanna Braddy, Lili Mirojnick, and Morgan Krantz

Distributed by Lionsgate Films

At this point, I could probably just say “found footage” and be done with this. We all know the drill here. There’s going to be some irresponsible teens doing some irresponsible teen stuff in places irresponsible teens shouldn’t be. Some strange stuff is going to happen, but it’ll be overshadowed by people “pranking” each other to make some fake jump scares. Everyone will slowly realize there’s some ghost shit going on, which we will only ever get glimpses of due to frequent shaky cam cutaways and visual “glitches.” One by one, everyone will get picked off, someone will cry into the camera, we’ll get a quick shot of the ghost as the audio explodes my eardrums and the screen cuts to black. Thanks for watching Found Footage Ghost Story #812, now available at your local Redbox!

I’m being my typical gloriously witty and snarky self of course, but it isn’t far from the truth. The numbers by which these films are painted have become so predictable that you could practically sail your ship by them. Even the slightest innovation becomes noteworthy, but is more often than not completely overshadowed by mass consumer disdain for the whole genre. If you do something different, it better be really fucking different, or you’ll never make it out of the gates.

Unfortunately, The Levenger Tapes just isn’t different enough to set it apart from the pack. It does shake things up with a mysterious supernatural backstory that only ever gives hints as to what’s going on. The performances are pretty good, and it evolves enough in the final act that I actually watched it twice. Without spoiling anything, the typical supernatural ghost story gets flipped on its head, and it’s unclear just who exactly the villain is. It never fully explains itself, which while interesting becomes its big flaw in terms of payoff. By the time the credits roll, you’ll be intrigued, but never really invested.

There are some good shots in The Levenger Tapes, but it’s weighed down by almost slavish devotion to convention. Turning on the night vision and seeing the eyes in the dark was effective, but was ruined by a quick, shaky cam cut and some screams hamfistedly delivering us to the next set piece. There was a pretty cool sequence where a crying voice in a bush lured one of the characters inside, but I couldn’t take it seriously over my repeated utterances of, “why the fuck would you go towards the scary ghost bush?” Predictably, the sequence ends when a spooky hand sticks out for a quarter of a second and the camera “glitches” as we have yet another shaky cam cut.

There is a film in here that I want to see. If The Levenger Tapes was more focused on the interesting story of the abducted girl and what exactly she meant, this could be an excellent thriller. Instead, it relies on long overdone conventional found footage bullshit tactics that are simply no longer effective. When The Marble Hornets did camera malfunctions, it was an integral part of their lore. When everyone else does it, it’s because it’s a cheap way to hide cuts and lower your effects budget.

Please stop ruining what could be good movies with found footage bullshit.

  • Film
User Rating 2.89 (9 votes)


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