Your premier resource for Found Footage reviews.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Area 407 & The Dinosaur Project

I love dinosaurs. And you might have noticed, I love found footage. So I was quite overjoyed to find out there were two dinosaur-themed found footage movies.

It turns out that while they're both found footage and feature dinosaurs, they're very, very different films. In fact, only one of them is horror.

Area 407

Area 407 is an old school, balls in the face found fooatge film, and I love it for that. The effects are simple but effective. For one thing, it features the most convincing plane crash scene I've ever seen, better than overly glossy depictions in films like The Grey and Jurassic Park 3. The storyline is simple and, let's be honest, very predictable. But the characters are actually interesting and sympathetic, which can be rare in found footage.

Basically, it's not the most brilliantly written film out there. It's pretty mediocre. But it's a pure, unadulterated genre film and that's why I'm the found footage afficionado. It instantly has established itself in my canon as my personal favorite out of the middle of the road FF films.

The Dinosaur Project

If Found Footage were my religion, this movie would be sacrilegious  It does everything on my list that indicates a weak, ineffectual found footage movie. The POV is inconsistent and impersonal, scattered over dozens of camera angels giving the film a scope and cinematography indistinguishable from a regular film (they have an in-universe explanation in the form of countless tiny cameras attached all over, but please, this format robs found footage of its stylistic strengths.) It's also not a horror film, and while it's admirable that found footage conintues to branch out, I've yet to see a truly effective found footage film that isn't horror.

But don't count the film out yet. It may be bad as a found footage "genre film," but as a regular film it's bloody fantastic. In fact, it's the best dinosaur movie to come out since Jurassic Park. It's the classic story of explorers finding a 'lost world' of prehistoric creatures, but it also cleverly turns some of the tropes on their head. The CGi is also surprisingly very good, and I rarely like CGI.

It admirably incorporates the Mokele mbembe myth, the most famous of dinosaur crytpids. For including it at all, I'll forgive them for switching the real legend of mbembe (which looks like a sauropod dinosaur), with your classic lake monster cryptids (resembling either a plesiosaur or an icthyosaur.)

Final verdict: They're both good dinosaur films, I'd prefer both to either of Jurassic Park's sequels. Only one of them is good as a found footage film, that's Area 407. However, The Dinosaur Project is a far better film overall.

Knock Knock 2

Some overall spoilers in the way of premise, depending on how strict you are, but nothing remotely specific.

For the second time I've found a decent found footage film On Demand (the first being Home Movie). The fun thing about this one is I didn't know a lick about it, had never heard of it before. So I didn't know if the 'enemy' would be a serial killer, ghosts, monsters, aliens... I was hoping it'd be aliens... even if that was by far the least likely of the choices, and there's actually a wealthy variety of alien found footage (in fact you see alien found footage much more often than 'regular style' alien horror movies). Turned out this time it was ghosts. Not my #1 favorite of possible premises, but one that found footage does very well, and one that lends itself more convincingly than most other stories in low budget FF films.

This is basically your run of the mill low-budget found footage film, which is good because I usually like low budget found footage films much more than the major studio ones. Not a hipster thing, it's just that the low budget ones tend to be more realistic and more effective as found footage. The high budget ones often (though not always, of course) use inexplicable multiple camera angles which render the found footage format as essentially a gimmick, and they craft complex storylines which stretch credulity too far from what works on found footage's primal, innate sensibility. Found footage is a simple format, and having a low budget often leads filmmakers to err on the side of simplicity, which makes the end result better.

Knock Knock 2 is by no stretch a great film, but it's competent. On the scale, it's not as good as The Wicksboro Incident, but much better than Strawberry Estates and Eyes In the Dark. Worthy of a nice nighttime watch for fans of found footage. Thankfully it's not just your average haunted house film, which has been done to death and done to perfection, from Ghostwatch to Paranormal Activity and the multitude of clones in its wake. Although it does get stuck in some familiar territory near the end, the good ole' trapped in a haunted location bit (Grave Encounters, Strawberry Estates).

The first hour of the film is excellent. The initial premise was very cool and uncommon. Instead of just visiting one urban legend, on Devil's Night (the night before Halloween), a group of friends is touring Hollywood's various haunted locations. It was so fluid that I wouldn't be especially surprised if they were just creepy on creepy-looking locales without actually having permission.

When they get to the last location, they decide to take a closer look. The location was very creepy, and for a while this was a good setup. Similar to the exceptional use of shade in Wicksboro Incident, the myriad of lights (jittery flashlights clashing against the light of the camera), made shadows dance all around my dark room, which was genuinely unnerving, and uniquely interactive.

Unfortunately the movie starts to wind down right at the moment when it should be picking up. The final scares aren't very scary and it starts to get boring at the end. But for the excellent portions before it, I was still glad I watched it. Certainly not a film that is going to convince non-fans to love found footage, but for genre fans you'd do well to go for this before resorting to what The Asylum puts out.

For the record, the original Knock Knock doesn't seem to have the slightest thing in common with Knock Knock 2. It wasn't written or created by the same people, it's about a serial killer instead of ghosts, and it's not found footage!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Freddy Vs. Jason

This isn't my usual style of horror. But what drew me to this film was the premise. It may sound like the most cliche' thing in the world, but have you ever actually seen two slasher icons throw-down before? There were films like "Dracula Vs. The Wolfman," or "Frankenstein vs. The Mummy," but films like that stopped being made fifty years ago, before slasher icons even existed. And yeah we have films like Alien Vs. Predator, but those are more animalistic battles, Freddy Vs. Jason is a fight between two sentient entities of pure evil. Even if it's been done before in some b-movies I've never seen, I can guarantee it's never been done with any bigger slasher icons than these, because these are the two biggest slasher icons of them all.

If you go into a film like "Freddy Vs. Jason" expecting a cinematic masterpiece, you're being rather silly, aren't you? The original A Nightmare on Elm Street is probably the only film out of the 20 or so films associated with either franchise that would be considered a masterpiece by the critics' reckonings. And while the Friday the 13th series is an undeniable horror classic, by "Jason X" not even the most hardcore Voorhees fans would be calling this high brow stuff. And Freddy Vs. Jason came after that.

With that in mind, I thought the plot here was very well done. The people around Elm Street have figured out how to defeat Freddy Krueger -- they stop talking about him, stop acknowledging him, and over time the memory of him fades away. If kids don't fear him, he can't inhabit their dreams.

So Freddy taps Jason Voorhees to do his dirty work. Freddy assumes the guise of Jason's mother and orders him to punish the teenagers of Elm Street. When bodies start turning up, the memory of Freddy is rekindled and he starts to gain power again. But things run afoul between our demonic duo when Jason refuses to stop killing and starts robbing Freddy of victims he wanted for himself. Then the ultimate slasher showdown begins.

The film wasn't brilliantly written, but it was competent, it was well shot, and it was entertaining. The characters were stock archetypes, but Ginger Snaps' titular Katharine Isabelle did get to play an uber-cool tomboy, more beautiful now that she's not competing with the gorgeous Emily Perkins (hey, don't judge me... Perkins is four years older than her in-film older sister and was 23 even in the first Ginger Snaps! She's more than ten years my senior.)

All in all, Freddy Vs. Jason will obviously never rise to my favorites list, but I enjoyed it. In fact, out of the handful of mediocre teen scream flicks I've watched, I enjoyed this one more than any others (such as Wild Country, the Night of the Demons remake, Grizzly Park...). Though that may be because the premise was more original in this one.

The only thing I strongly disliked about this movie is that it portrayed Jason as the hero and Freddy as the villain. I mean, really here?? There's no 'lesser of two evils' between these two monsters. You could argue that Freddy is worse because he killed children before he died. But, then you should consider the fact that Jason has ten original continuity films, while Freddy only has six. So even while Jason isn't the killer in all of his films, he's still probably killed a much larger number of people than Freddy has. Why does this film have to have a good guy and a bad guy?

I don't mind that the teenagers themselves are rooting for Jason. They're operating under the hilariously optimistic belief that if Jason wins, they can return him to Crystal Lake and he won't have any reason to kill people anymore (as if he ever needed a reason!), but if Freddy wins, he'll merely continue his revenge on the denizens of Elm Street. So misguided though they are, I understand why they're trying to help Jason. What irks me is that the film itself is portraying Jason as the good guy, e.g. by playing triumphant music while he's winning the fight, and evil music when Freddy has the upper-hand.

Me personally, I was rooting for Freddy, because I think he's much cooler. The fact that this is the original Freddy Krueger, Robert Englund, in this film insures that the performance is tops. Jason is a very intimidating beast of a man but he just can't stand up to the iconic Krueger.

If they were ever to make a sequel, I would go see it in theaters. What greater praise is there than that?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Scream 4

Warning: Since the mystery is pretty much what a Scream film is all about, this review contains major spoilers not just for Scream 4 but for Scream 1 and 2 as well. Be forewarned!

The secret to the Scream formula is that these films play at half a dozen games, and win them all. That's a major reason why this franchise is so popular, you can watch them for a variety of different reasons and still come away satisfied.

First, and perhaps foremost, they are world-class "whodunit" stories in the age-old tradition. Where everyone is a viable suspect, and you won't know until the end who's good, and who's evil.

Secondly they are, of course, brilliant deconstructions, which is arguably what made Scream famous. It took a genre awash in cliches and injected a spark of awareness to make it all feel new again. It was a quintessentially 90s idea, the Nirvana of horror films, so it's no surprise I love it.

But the deconstruction is about more than just a hip eye-wink to the audience. How many horror films exist in a universe apart from the horror culture that we fans live and breath? How many zombie movies are there where no one has heard of George Romero, and the walking dead are called, well, the walking dead and never "zombies?" How many classic slasher set-ups are there where the kids never bother to realize they're the unfortunate recipients of a tragic archetype? 

As a horror fan, if I ever found myself living in a by-the-numbers horror scenario, movies are the first thing that would come to my mind. How could they not, with them being such a part of my life? And that's where Scream comes in, to rectify that perplexing lack of awareness which makes so many horror films feel slightly disconnected from the real world we live in. That's why films like Scream are such a hit with hardcore horror fans despite taking their share of cheeky 'stabs' at the cliches of the genre, these are films that connect the fandom of horror with the medium of horror. 

Thirdly, the Scream films are the two things they're supposed to be, the two genres they're born from. They're the all-time ultimate "teen scream" genre films, full of hip dialogue, drunken parties, sexy characters and teen angst. It's also beyond question the highest quality slasher franchise in 20 years, full of creative kills, intense chases, and doomed ingenues.

Unlike other fun horror films like Shaun of the Dead or Dale & Tucker Vs. Evil, Scream is fun but it's not a comedy, it's a horror film that takes itself seriously and even delivers a couple of decent scares. Come on, all alone in the house, the killer calls, but wait, he's in the house! The intros are always pretty darn creepy, admit it. One who is so inclined could ignore the deconstruction, and even the mystery, and just enjoy these films as slasher films. And they'd still come away with a good experience.

Lastly, in regards to the Scream series... Not being a veteran slasher fan, I've never really had one of those iconic killers to call my own before, but I have to say I've grown very fond of Ghostface. The creepy voice, the obsession with horror films, the meticulous planning, he's a fantastic 'character,' even if technically he's someone new each time. And that signature move he has when he turns his head to the side after a character says something to him, is just fucking amazing. Despite being a mask, it totally gives this powerful impression of mock-concern, almost pity. It's such a simple little thing but whoever came up with that was a genius. 

Now on, specifically, to Scream 4.......

The concept that Scream 4 is a makeshift, in-universe reboot of the original Scream in addition to another sequel is what really kept the mystery fresh and alive for me. That's because you have all these archetypes from the first film (and some, even, from the second film -- I was definitely looking at that one nosey reporter with suspicion during her one short scene), except it's impossible to know which of the archetypes are going to pan out as they originally did, and which ones are going to be turned on their head. So you have all of these obvious killers and yet you still have no idea who it's going to be. This gave Scream 4 a dimension of ingenuity where it feels like we're treading on uncharted territory instead of just being the fourth iteration of the same set-up. In other words it doesn't feel cheesy ala "really, everyone gets caught up in the same kind of murder mystery AGAIN?" when (in-universe) the killer is intentionally recreating the past again and (conceptually/on the filmmaker's meta level) the film is intended as a tongue-in-cheek way to win new viewers, many of whom would not have been around to watch the original Scream 15 years ago. 

Some people have complained that the film isn't modern enough. Admittedly  it definitely appeals a lot more to original Scream fans than to newcomers  characters like Dewey and Gale are never even fully explained (as far as their history goes), so newcomers would probably feel at least a little in the dark. But what's wrong with Scream appealing to the classic formula? If they wanted to do a true reboot they'd probably have named it Scream Again or Scream Louder. People complain so much about modern horror, is it so wrong for one film to hearken backwards?

More importantly, though, I think the movie's classic 90s feel was intentional, because it's another piece of the deconstruction, and it actually helps to make the film relevant to today. It's a pseudo remake, after all, retro is the idea! Even when they aren't remakes, retro horror has been very successful recently, with period films such as The House of the Devil, Paranormal Activity 3, and Let Me In. So rather than detracting from Scream 4's relevance, its bygone style actually marks it more clearly as a comment on modern horror.

And that gets into what makes Scream 4 so special for me, individually. The original Scream films played on the slasher classics of the 80s. Scream 4 ingeniously arrived just as dozens of modern remakes of these classic slashers started pouring out of film studios. But the remake craze isn't restricted to slashers, remakes of all kinds of creature features and exploitation films joined in as well. And Scream 4 was able to perfectly nail the tropes of all these silly remakes, really down to a T. I've never been an avid fan of the classic slashers, so the original Scream films only tangentially connect with me on the deconstruction level. But I'm quite familiar with these modern remakes so Scream 4 makes an intimate connection with me. 

The only mild criticism I have is that it feels like they should have 'gone for broke' and made this a climactic finish to the series, maybe even kill off a major character. Instead, they had their sights on rebooting the franchise and following through with more sequels. Unfortunately, Scream 4 performed below expectations, and the idea for further films has been scrapped. Even so, I have to admit, had new films followed, that would have been worth a lot more than the shock & awe of killing Sidney or another major character in Scream 4. As badass as it would have been, nothing's better than more Scream films, and a Scream film without Sidney, Gale, & Dewey sounds like it would be hard to pull off, quite possibly a "jump the shark moment."

In hindsight, part of me wishes the killer had turned out to be Sidney, because her motive and backstory would be by far the most compelling. The film definitely started to build it up with her whole arc about not being the victim. Well, in a slasher, you're either a victim, or you're the killer. After sustaining atrocity after atrocity in her life, it's plausible that Sidney could have developed a need for murder in order to prove to herself that she's not powerless, that she in fact wields the power to end a life. Sidney Prescott has actually killed several people over the course of the series. It's always been strictly in self-defense, but killing that many people has to change a person, it could reasonably have germinated a taste for murder inside her. 

Of course had the series continued, it's possible the plan was to eventually make Sidney the killer, perhaps with Gale as her accomplice. Part of me thinks Kevin Williamson is too sentimental to go that route, and I can respect that. If they went that route but they failed to pull it off excellently, if it ended up kind of cheap or weak, then that would retroactively damage the rest of the series for some people, by ruining the Sidney character. Of course if it was pulled off really well, it would add a whole new dimension to all the previous films. On the other hand, it might just be too cheeky and brutal for the Scream franchise. As Scream 4 very aptly quipped, "the unexpected is the new cliche," and the Sidney-Gale killer ending would very much play into that.

All in all this is one of my favorite horror films by far. Don't just rent it online, buy or rent the DVD, because it contains an extended version (with a different chain of events) of Britt Robertson's intro scene. I wish she had been cast in one of the main roles, her snarky precocious style (not unlike a young Katie Holmes) was perfect for Kevin Williamson's writing (perhaps she could get a gig on The Vampire Diaries). It also contains an extended ending with an interesting tone. And it contains a bunch of other deleted scenes, one or two of which should definitely have been included in the film because they expound on the deconstruction aspect, and those are always the best scenes.

The Cabin in the Woods

Notice: By virtue of the film's content, a spoiler-free review would be basically pointless so this review contains HEAVY SPOILERS.

I've been gleefully rewatching all my favorite new acquisitions from the Halloween season, and I have to say.... The Cabin in the Woods is even more brilliant the second time around, where I was able to appreciate the full range of nuance in the back-story.

Honestly, when I was watching this film it felt like reading The Hunger Games or watching Avatar: The Last Airbender, in the sense that they've compiled so many familiar tropes but each one has been executed to utter perfection, begetting a new whole that becomes something distinctly unique and formidable. 

Cabin first gives you a Hunger Games-style control center for a Battle Royale blood sacrifice (similar films but the distinction is, The Hunger Games features the immense level of environment control which Battle does not, and Battle features the concept of the blood sacrifice being to placate rather than to demoralize as it is in Games; both aspects being present in Cabin). Then it sets you up with the archetypal 'college kids' isolated vacation' we've seen in nearly every "teen scream" genre flick since antiquity. Finally we throw in some classic Evil Dead "oops I summoned zombies" and the main pieces are in place, though that doesn't begin to address the vast myriad of film references throughout the movie.

This film combines a dozen and ten things, to the fifth power if you count all the monsters. But at its core, at its deepest conceptual level, it's a marriage between two approaches towards horror: the self-aware deconstruction of the Scream series, where a group of would-be victims tap the necessary "rules" of horror films in a bid to survive while the nature of these rules is snarkily pondered in a social context; and the tongue-in-cheek horror-comedy of recent hits like Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland, and Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil; where a basic horror set-up gives way to a humorous farce while lovingly poking fun at horror cliche's. And while I would not place Cabin above Scream (by virtue of what Scream accomplishes), even as much as I enjoyed Shaun and Tucker & Dale, Cabin is definitely the greatest and funniest horror comedy ever made.

And there's no question that The Cabin in the Woods is more clever than Scream. Scream set out to accomplish at least a trio of disparate goals and succeeded flawlessly with them all, but what that means is the deconstruction only received a fraction of each films' focus. Cabin, alternatively, combines a handful of disparate films but enlists each into one single goal: total horror deconstruction. The "rules" are outlined here thrice more vividly and articulately than in any Scream film.

And while Cabin lacks the "meta" aspects of Scream, which Kevin Williamson is famous for (moments where the film ironically -- in the classic literary sense -- pokes fun at itself, ala the "Stab" series), it makes up for it with the elaborate and well-crafted implications regarding the fact that most of the horror films you've watched, and most of the horror films that have yet to be made, are all de facto prequels to The Cabin in the Woods. Every trope, every dumb move, every slow build-up, was all the work of these blokes in a control room in their periodic attempt to save humanity by appeasing ancient overlords. While Cabin almost surely will never get an actual sequel, all you have to do is pick any a horror film off the rack and piece together for yourself (as Marty did in Cabin), what ways the "puppet-masters" are orchestrating the events. 

The sole way in which this film fails, the way -- if accomplished -- The Cabin in the Woods could have bested not only Scream but it would have placed itself in the top iota of horror films ever made, is that it's simply not scary. I don't see why they fell short in that category, it seems basic enough. I get the feeling merely producing/directing the monster scenes differently (in a traditional horror style) could possibly have made it scary. But perhaps they just didn't want to risk gutting the comedy, or betraying the deconstruction, or erring too close to Scream, or lord only knows what. In any case, achieving the best and cleverest horror-comedy of all-time is no cause for complaint. The Cabin in the Woods is an instant classic for horror buffs and it's destined to go down in history as the best-made horror deconstruction.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed

Notice: No real spoilers here, just expository information.

This is the greatest series of werewolf films. The original Ginger Snaps is a modern classic, and Ginger Snaps 2 is a genuinely superior film, believe it or not. The original Ginger Snaps is thick with stylish, brooding goth flair, and I love it for that. But Ginger Snaps 2 takes a turn for the darker, and it's better for it: with decrepit asylum corridors, the spectres of mental illness, and recurring flashes of gore. The other avenue number 2 takes to improve on the first is in its basic story premise. The original told an iconic werewolf story, but as such it was more basic. Brigitte's struggle in Unleashed is a more unqiue and unpredictable adventure.

As always, the subtext is exquisite. Unsurprisingly unconvinced that the condition which forced her to kill her sister is a positive transformation, Brigitte continues her tooth and nail battle against the onset of puberty. The titular Ginger appears only as an incorporeal hallucination to calmly harbinge doom for her kid sister. The hallucinations are quite possibly brought on by Brigitte's vascular injection of the powerful poison monkshood, the only way to postpone her transformation into the beast. But when a well-wishing suitor confuses the epeleptic seizure, a side-effect of the monkshood, with a narcotic overdose, Brigitte becomes held against her will in a drug addiction clinic. Now she's stuck in an asylum, with no way to stave off lycanthropy, and to make matters worse there is another werewolf stalking her, drawing ever nearer.

I found the relationship between Brigitte and Ginger very nuanced and touching in this film. Ginger appears to mock Brigitte, but it feels less like residual derision than like anxiety (on Brigitte's part) over the unstoppable transformation she is going through. All the while, Brigitte carries pictures of her and her sister with her always, never losing the love and mercy which unfortunately forced her hand in the murder of Ginger. Does Ginger appear as a result of Brigitte's fear towards lycanthropy, or does she appear as a haunting guilt over dealing Ginger's final blow? Perhaps both, and more.

I enjoy the misandristic overtones. The only two significant male characters are monsters who are obsessed with sex. One is a monster for killing and presumably eating humans. The other is an even more deplorable monster, who manipulates mentally disturbed drug addicts in order to sexually abuse them. And, to prove how great of a guy he is, he's found a way to keep them addicted to drugs while he does it! But, hey, the three minor characters who are male seem to be decent blokes. And not all of the women are very humane, it's not like it's black & white. But it's always nice to see a horror film with female heroes who don't conform to the hysterical, can't run, victim archetype.

The first Ginger Snaps was largely about the love and devotion between the two sisters, and the dark side of puberty & sexual awakening. Ginger Snaps 2 carries on these themes but takes the latter in a somewhat different direction. For Ginger, the transformation represented both evil, and an awakening of powerful new abilities and experiences. For Brigitte, it means only becoming a horrible monster. In that sense this a twisted, grim reiteration of the classic "innocence forever" theme from Peter Pan, Toy Story, The Santa Claus, et. al. The ultimate theme of the Ginger Snaps series is that you can't fight the coming of age. No matter how hard you try, you're doomed to grow that hair, feel those pheromones, crave human flesh... But I like that Brigitte tries. I like that she's willing to give up everything and anything to keep from becoming that monster.

The DVD also has some excellent deleted scenes (Ghost telling Brigitte that they're going to harvest her organs is priceless). I always wish scenes like this would be included in an "extended version" instead of just tacked on as an extra. I could do with an extra ten minutes of runtime on such a good film. I could just eat that up.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Home Movie (2009)

Home Movie

Rating: 4 stars out of 5.

Notice: No spoilers until stated. 

Overview: A well-executed and harrowingly realistic tale of a parent's worst nightmare.

In the case of paranormal subjects, found footage can make the unreal appear real. And while these films are often terrifying, they also contain a little spark of awe and wonder inherent in making fantasy come to life. In the case of more realistic subjects such as serial killers and rapists, the fantasy is gone and in its place exists only the grim understanding that what you're seeing could genuinely occur.  Many of the most disturbing films of all-time are of this variety, including the original found footage film, Cannibal Holocaust.

Home Movie is of the latter variety, and while it's not one of the most disturbing films of all-time, it's definitely disturbing, and some of its dark images have continued to linger with me long after viewing.

Home Movie concerns a small family: the minister father, the psychiatrist mother, and their twin children Jack and Emily. The family has just moved out to a secluded house in the woods to live a quiet, idyllic life. The parents are warm and nurturing, but the children aren't quite normal. The ten year old twins are developing an unhealthy taste for killing and causing pain.

No matter how many times a found footage film takes me to the woods, it is always good. Is there any better setting in the world? The woods just has an intrinsic foreboding to it somehow. The house and locale here are beautiful, it's an inherently chilling setting and they pulled it off perfectly.

The first act of this film is especially excellent. The early scenes of the happy mother and father nurturing their children are incredibly real and well-written. The foreshadowing at this point is strong without being obvious. The placement of the children's story about the dragon with a paper bag over his head verges on brilliant. It's heartbreaking to see such loving parents and then to witness what transpires with the children. The rising action that follows is handled aptly with a creepy aplomb. Even if the direction becomes obvious after the first time the kids act out, the disturbing journey is worth more than the mystery.

While the hints are subtle, another area the film excels in is portraying the children's interest for the macabre. It's frightening to imagine these regular looking kids who see death and become obsessed with it.

The only thing holding this film back from ranking higher is a certain problem I have regarding the film's final act.


At the end of the film, the kids make their move on their parents. Surprisingly, after how perfectly handled the rest of the film is, this part leaves something to be desired. A more simple, direct treatment would have been exceedingly more terrifying. I like the concept that these kids are clever, possibly even savants, who have meticulously planned this grand salvo. However, the way it's done is just too much. The rest of the film is amazingly realistic, but this part is too complex, it's more like a slasher film or even some kind of Bourne-esque action movie: the kids set traps, drug their parents, beat them, tie them up, let them escape, toy with them, tie them up again, it's way too much to feel intuitively real. One or two of these aspects alone would have driven the point home while maintaining the illusion.

In any case, it was a smart, disturbing film with some of the best acting I've seen in found footage. Definitely recommended for people who don't mind being a tad disturbed.