THE KAOS BRIEF (2016)
Written and Directed by JP Mandarino
SCI-FI LONDON FILM FESTIVAL 2017 runs from 27 April – 6 May https://sci-fi-london.com/
YouTube vlogger Skylar (Drew Lipson), his boyfriend Corey (Marco DelVecchio), Sky’s twin sister Dakota (Charlie Morgan Patton) and her boyfriend Tren (Akanimo Eyo) decide to camp in the mountains for the weekend. Excited to get some new material for his subscribers, Skylar appears freaked but pleased when they spot some weird lights in the sky during their trip. Coupled with weird rock formations outside their tents, the experience leaves him with plenty of footage to share online with his followers to try and decipher. However, upon his return home, all four start to experience weird phenomenon and when the group are visited by two men in black, who appear to be stalking the individuals wherever they go, they begin to fear for their lives. A mystery internet user contacts Skylar warning him that he shouldn’t have shared his footage online and that now they’re all in danger but with the police uninterested in their stalkers, just who can they trust and just who is actually after them?
THE KAOS BRIEF is an exciting sci-fi thriller fit for the modern age with the film entirely shot for a vlogging style purpose, utilising webcams, DSLR’s, mobile phones, drones and even security camera footage. Opening with a masked hacktivist reaching out to the wider web regarding top secret footage he’s found within the classified Edward Snowden files, we discover how Skylar, his friends and family end up with their lives changed forever.
Skylar is your typical obsessed vlogger: a self-centred teen who loves to discuss every little thing with his followers. After hitting the mighty milestone of a thousand subscribers, Skylar is more eager than ever to deliver his audience with more wonderful footage about him and his life. His twin sister Dakota and their respective boyfriends seem accustomed to Sky’s penchant for filming everything that goes on in their day to day lives and are happy to partake in his YouTube-style reality. However, their trip to the mountains proves to be one they’d rather forget. After spotting the strange light formations in the sky, a series of unexplainable events occur. It starts off relatively simple such as rocks being skilfuly stacked outside their tents in the middle of the night but the experience soon follows them home from the trip as one night they discover their dustbins impossibly stacked in the back yard before falling to the floor. Events only seem to get stranger and more personal and it isn’t long before they start to question whether they infact spotted UFO’s in the sky that night. The constant presence of the men in the black car parked outside Sky and Dakota’s family home puts the group on edge but nothing could prepare them for the horrors that await. Are the men in black working for the government? Is something else coming for them? Just who can they trust and how can they escape this living nightmare?
THE KAOS BRIEF is a very easy movie to get into. Its found footage style is fortunately not shakey cam (thank God!) as it seems Sky knows a thing or two about shooting decent vlogs for his channel, Skylar TV. The fact that much of the footage is shot by fixed static cams such as security ones and webcams helps enormously. The editing even works out well, giving viewers all angles of the home when strange events occur thanks to the many security cameras whilst Sky’s confessionals to his followers are edited very much like those by real-life YouTube ‘stars’. This personal way of shooting allows the viewer to really get to know Sky, Dakota, Corey and Tren and each one of them just seems like your normal, average teen just enjoying life. None of them are obnoxious like teens in other movies so when weird shit starts to go down, you really feel for them all. The paranoia and fear really ramps up as the days go by and certain individuals find themselves marked by unseen beings. Their, and subsequently the viewer’s, only clue to who could be doing such things to them is the video footage Sky’s cameras capture which show some supernatural strangeness is most definitely afoot.
Utilising the “less is more” mentality, writer and director JP Mandarino has managed to craft a thrilling, unnerving experience allowing the story and characters to really deliver a story of fear – fear of the unknown. A splash of special effects adds the dimensions required for its sci-fi elements but using them sparingly really gives the film its punch whilst retaining believability and realism.
If you prefer your films to have a touch of reality to them rather than full-blown fiction, then THE KAOS BRIEF certainly ticks all the boxes. Tremendous performances from all four members of the cast aided by a tight screenplay that never seemingly comes up for air, provides a refreshing, current-generation cinematic experience for sci-fi conspiracy fans.