UK Release Date TBC
While I’m a big fan of the old school horror anthology format, the found footage genre isn’t something I’ve ever really enjoyed. Although admittedly some films work in spite of, rather than because of it. The whole thing peaked with [REC] and nothing since has justified it’s ongoing existence. Here we are presented with something which on the surface appears to be an amalgam of these two ideas, but it doesn’t really deliver either of them. In fact it doesn’t ever become a film of any genre at all. At best it could be described as a clips compilation, and some of the material they use might almost fall under the category of short film. Which is a shame when those individual sequences might have found purpose standing on their own. Instead this is without purpose, plot or subtext which raises questions about why it exists at all.
An opening scene involves a man talking about video nasties. In his youth he came across a box of video tapes which contained what appeared to be adult films. Some may have actually contained real life footage. He mentions Betamax so you know this is gritty and realistic. The claim that this sort of gruesome material is the ‘evolution of horror’ is a dubious proposition even before things get rolling. The idea that poor quality filming equipment adds realism is also very questionable. But this brief opening dialogue does little to offer real context to what is about to be shown. It certainly doesn’t offer any sort of typical bookend story to the rest of the proceedings. As if that would actually help any of this feel more cohesive or watchable in any way.
What follows is a series of short clips and scenes involving a mixture of grotesque moments and sinister goings-on with an assortment of styles and production media being used. There are grainy film scenes, home videos complete with tracking errors and time codes, as well as digital footage. Some of it is obviously edited and colour corrected. In between this there are brief glimpses of stock footage and royalty free news clips, as well as bits of retro safety programmes. A lack of congruity is immediately apparent and the length of each sequence changes from one moment to the next. It’s very choppy in at times, but in places things are really drawn out beyond any sort of macabre entertainment value. However the only horror involved comes from the realisation this goes on for over two hours.
How soon you will long for straight to video movies that barely meet the 90 minute mark. The content ranges from stalker videos to basement torture scenes, in various settings and languages, but any kind of novelty is gone in those first few minutes. Ultimately each scene is as pointless the next and any shock value is absent once the first instances of murder, sex and drug use have passed. A checklist of what to include seems to have been covered, so as well as bloody deaths and beatings there are moments that include self-harm, someone eating faeces, and a few instances of pornographic footage. But the problem of all these grim vignettes coming and going so quickly remains. Without overarching themes or a messages it’s just horribly tedious.
Television clips talk about young minds becoming ‘hooked on depravity’ seem to be an attempt at making fun of the audience. But it’s jarring when there is no other evidence of self awareness elsewhere. When identifiable filming techniques like actual acting and lighting are used there are brief glimpses of effort being utilized. But the effect is minimal and the performances are mostly bad. There is home movie style story about a family killing themselves thinking the Millennium Bug glitch will plunge the world into chaos. And there is a faux YouTube show called ‘Two Girls One Victim’. But these fall into the category of neat ideas that should have been heavily revised before production. If these were fifteen minute stories and there were only five or six chapters in the whole film it could have worked.
A lot of the little details are wrong whether it’s the style of the found footage formats or the way that videos are being streamed live. Another section involves a couple being interviewed about their missing daughter. But when a mystery DVD arrives showing her being mutilated they all sit around and watch it for some reason. Maybe this kind of potentially sensitive evidence is best handled in another way or not touched at all? Even more confusing is the way the interviewer involved stays around, and keeps filming the whole time. This segment stands out from the rest purely because it’s so unintentionally amusing. But for the most part this is just repetitive death and misery and after a while it becomes incredibly exhausting.
Part of the problem is the number of recurring scenes. They don’t have a recurring plot to revisit, besides another murder, so it’s tough to see the point of it all. The rest of the material included is all so similar in nature that it just becomes redundant. Some attempts are made to make a few of these bits appear to be shocking real life police evidence. But when the same childish yellow font is pasted across the screen in more than one sequence it just becomes laughable. Particularly when the text on display from supposed real authorities is so badly written. With all the attempts to make this gritty and disturbing it’s just a boring slog that goes on forever. They might want you to ask the question ‘could this be real?’ But the only real question here is ‘who cares?’ Avoid this and get your sick thrills elsewhere.