‘There’s something out there…’
Mark Duplass is a thousand times more sinister when wearing a wolf mask…
Paranormal Activity Homes!
Historically the 5th instalment in any horror franchise is a toughie. Scream and Texas Chainsaw Massacre never made it past 4. Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child is as bad as it sounds. Halloween 5 whilst not terrible, is pretty much a rehash of Halloween 4 (and Halloween 1 and 2 for that matter) and Friday the 13th: A New Beginning sees Jason Vorhees take a breather as a different killer dons the hockey mask – with limited success.
What was clear for rookie director Christopher Landon is that Paranormal Activity 4 was a huge misstep in a previously consistent series and something had to radically change. Happily Landon moves away from the tried and tested formula (ghost story) albeit to a different tried and tested formula – possession. Whilst there were hints of this in previous entries in the franchise The Marked Ones marks the first occasion when possession is definitely at the forefront.
This change in direction is a shot in the arm for the series but The Marked Ones is still a long film at 1 hour 41 minutes so the ending had to tie things together to make it all work. The Marked Ones tries to take the best bits of Afflicted, Grave Encounters and As Above, So Below but arguably isn’t as good as any of them. Vitally the ending does work though, leaving the viewer scratching their heads without becoming disengaged.
For a lot of people this will be just another dumb horror sequel, in the context of the horror movie world though Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones has to be considered a success.
I have seen actual home movies that I enjoyed more than this…
The huge financial success of Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity opened the door for anyone with a video camera to have a crack at the big time. Home Movie is another distinctly average addition to a bloated genre.
The two adults leads have no chemistry and are both obnoxious and difficult to like. The message of science vs religion is clumsy and too ostentatious and the plot is unrealistic. The only thing that saves Home Movie from Mothman territory is the performance of the two young leads who terrorize their beleaguered parents and provide some genuinely chilling moments.
I have been hyper critical about found footage films in the past and Home Movie proves that for every great film in this genre there are 20 shit ones. Home Movie falls squarely into the latter camp.
Blair Bigfoot Project.
I thought that director Bobcat Goldthwait’s 2011 film God Bless America was one of the most underrated films of the last five years so I was pretty excited about his first foray into horror.
Willow Creek sees a well acted and believable couple searching the North American woods for any evidence of the mythical creature Bigfoot. This is all shot using shaky, but high quality found footage, and being set in the woods invites all sorts of comparisons to the king of found footage movies, The Blair Witch Project. To his credit Goldthwait does nothing to try and separate the two films instead accepting that two films about people becoming lost in the woods are inevitably going to evoke similar scenes. There are notable and important differences that set Willow Creek aside and stop it from just being a straight up Blair Witch rip off however. Firstly there is one really long, continuous, tension building scene that doesn’t appear to cut at any point. This is quite unlike anything I have seen in horror before in terms of realism. Secondly there are definitely no fucking Bigfoots in The Blair Witch Project.
Making a horror film about Bigfoot is a pretty ballsy move as most people now think of the lovable Sasquatch portrayed in Harry and the Hendersons rather than the terrifying humanoid image from the past. Unfortunately this risk doesn’t quite work out for Goldthwait. Even with a running time of less than 80 minutes the pay off isn’t worth the wait and a half-hearted attempt at ambiguity at the end is not enough to save Willow Creek either.
An interesting piece of work from Goldthwait and worth watching for that one long scene I mentioned earlier but if you want to see a really messed up Bigfoot film then try Drawing Flies instead.
Two friends plan to travel the world is ruined when one of them selfishly becomes a terrifying vampire.
I can’t remember off hand a vampire found footage tale so points for originality. This is off set slightly by the derivative need to take any kind of modern horror fad and just add every existing horror story to it until it is totally ruined. Expect a werewolf found footage movie sometime soon. The other good thing about Afflicted is that it is genuinely creepy pretty much throughout and does the absolute best it can on a presumably tiny budget. These limitations come to the fore in a negative light however when considering the acting. Newcomers Derek Lee and Clif Prowse do a sterling job with the writing and direction but they could have done with at least one actual actor in the lead roles. As the story becomes more ridiculous they need a more experienced head to keep the viewer engaged. Overall though they have done a decent job here, I am interested to see what they do in the future.