Entity (2012): Out now on DVD
(15) Running time: 86 minutes
Director: Steve Stone
Writer: Steve Stone
Cast: Dervla Kirwan, Charlotte Riley, Branko Tomovic, Rupert Hill, Oliver Jackson, Michael David Worden
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish
A film crew of five head to the Siberian woods in search of answers regarding a rather large collection of dead bodies, which were found buried over a decade ago. Said film crew are lead by a psychic who ‘talks’ to the dead, and the dead lead them to an abandoned research facility in the middle of the Siberian woods, and when they get their all sorts of creepy stuff begins to happen, and all is recorded (for the most part) on their handheld cameras. Cue lots of jittery, jumpy camera work, the odd bit of screaming and a frantic finish to give you that now expected gut punch to the senses that is intended to make you sit back, breathe again and think, holy crap!
Now, before you start thinking “oh here we go again, another found footage horror like all the rest”, think again. I introduced this review to firstly explain that all the usual found footage clichés are present and correct, however there is something very special about Entity that brings it up from the depths of the tired found footage genre, and into the realms of highly inventive, often brilliant filmmaking that pisses all over the majority of found footage flicks of recent months. As for abandoned asylum/hospital/research facilities go, Entity is one of the best, and full respect to British director Steve Stone for using a well worn genre and injecting something fresh and interesting to it.
Entity is a rare breed: a found footage horror that employs proper cameramen who can actually hold a God damned camera steady, but it also uses non found footage shots too to give the film a mixture of both handheld camera and generic filming, and it works. Naturally when the shit hits the fan the filming becomes shaky because the cameraman is actually running or hiding, but the shaky cam is not in your face and forced, like with many of this genre who simply don’t have the ideas to pull off something new. Entity has the balls to use steady cam a lot, and it really helps the overall feel to the film. Using both genres also allows for a creepy music score to be used when the handheld stuff is not happening, and the score alone will give you the shivers. Add to this some truly horrifying and terrific use of sound effects when the ‘ghosts’ arrive, and you have a film that if watched with no visuals at all, would still give you nightmares. Full respect to the people in charge of sound and music here, for they have done a truly awesome job in creating a real sense of panic and impending doom unlike any other film of this kind. Growls, whispers and creepy voices can be heard echoing in the hallways of the darkly lit building, and if you listen with the volume up loud, it will really put you on edge.
The choice of building is also spot on, and while this was filmed in the UK, the building could have easily been filmed in Siberia. It is authentic, perfectly designed and very very creepy. It allows for terrific jump moments, and long dark corridors allow director Stone to build up tension that can sometimes become unbearable. The cast all do a wonderful job here too, and again this goes against the usual low budget found footage stuff. Here characters don’t just simply scream and run and throw their camera around, here the characters actually have reasons for being here (some more sinister than others), actually make sense when they talk, and actually come across as genuine people rather than actors told to pretend to be genuine. When the cast get spooked, you bloody know they are spooked as their faces tell us exactly how scared they are. Rarely are stupid decisions made as a lazy way of enhancing the fear factor, and in Entity most decisions make sense, which allow you to fully embrace the characters and feel their fear. Stone has written a magnificent and highly thought out script for a low budget horror, and he even finds time to deliver a couple of emotional moments which actually work.
It would be unfair of me to go into any plot details because there are a few surprises here, and you are best going into this with little or no prior knowledge of what goes on. I can tell you that the research facility was part of a Russian government plan to use psychics to help in war, and as you can guess, channelling all that psychic energy in one place has left a few ghosts, angry at not being able to cross over. These bastards can be violent too, but thankfully Stone never piles on the gore, and keeps things relatively believable. Entity is a slow burner, but it keeps things very interesting with such brilliant characters, excellent script writing, some truly haunting images and a terrific use of sound. The atmosphere here is dark and very menacing, and this allows Stone to deliver a number of genuine shocks or disturbing scenes which really work.
I have been saying for a while now that the found footage genre is slowly running out of steam and ideas, but every once in a while a film comes along to re-ignite my passion for the cheeky format, and Entity has thankfully done that. Somehow Stone has used a very familiar setting and idea and made something interesting, original and quite frightening out of it. Entity won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but those who enjoy serious horror, with strong characters, a good script and a more atmospheric approach rather than constant jump shocks or gore will find plenty to enjoy here.