Friday, February 10, 2012
Directed by Seve Schelenz
Rob Scattergood (Robert Scattergood) - Simon Lacey
Amber Lewis - Eva Hansen
Richard Olek - Richard Harrison
When Simon, Rich, and Eva head out on an eagerly anticipated road trip, they bring along a video camera to record their journey. What starts out as a carefree adventure slowly becomes a descent into the ominous as unexplained events threaten to disrupt the balance between the three close friends.
Well after working on this blog for over a year and a half now, I finally got my first press kit/ screener sent to me. I don't know why, yet I feel like I've actually accomplished something with the blog now. Even though I am sometimes hard on independent filmmakers and their movies, I think it's best to tell them the truth about their work. Even when I find a film bad I try to make sure I put down why I think it's bad. I don't try to sugar coat it. And yes, if I love a movie I still try to find one thing that bothered me with the movie if possible and put that in my reviews. One of the nicest thing said to me was after a recent review where the director thanked me for being honest. The reason why is because it actually helps the filmmakers find their weak points in their work. They have enough people telling them they do a great job and their work is perfect from the people around them. If I don't like something I'll say it, and if I do like something I'll say it as well. Sometimes harshly and sometimes more politely.
While the acting is actually really good for the most part in the movie, it did hit a speed bump during one scene. That one bump was thanks to Richard Olek who plays Richard Harrison in the movie. Olek does a decent job throughout the whole of the movie, as someone who gets more and more pissed off as the weirdness creeps into the story. The one point is when I was talking about takes place in the characters first hotel room stay. It's hard to say what it was but it just seemed like Olek didn't know how to handle his lines during this part. Thankfully his acting gets back on track right after that scene and he does great after that. In fact, he takes over the movie toward the end. Amber Lewis who plays Eva Hansen was the one person in the movie that I couldn't pin down acting wise until the end of the movie really. I'm not saying Lewis was off, its just that her character was off. In the end it actually makes sense why her character seemed that way because of the story which after finding out that one bit of information it brought out a different view of her character. The actor that was only on screen twice in the whole movie did a decent job from what I could tell as you never actually get to see him act. Rob Scattergood, who plays Simon Lacey, probably had the hardest role in the film due to he had to act as well as film the movie at same time, so for that and not sounding off at all in any scene he was in but character progression wasn't really there for his character.
The plot for the movie is pretty straight forward for the most part. It's just three friends that are on a trip to a wedding for another friend. The real story for the film is the disintegration of the friendship between Simon, Eva, and Richard. The cracks begin to form almost right way after Eva goes and talks to Simon's girlfriend. This is where I said her character seemed off before. Eva tried to keep at least arms length away from Simon throughout the movie from then on. Simon sees this and tries all he can to record everything on their trip with a video camera he picked up, even after his friends asked him to turn it off. This just makes him want to record them more, to their chagrin. To me it seems like Simon was afraid to face reality and wanted to view it through the lenses of his camera. Later on Simon starts to see faces skewed up through camera. After a while he finds out that those he views that are like that all die in various fashion. It's at this point Simon breaks with reality which causes his friends to try and break the camera's hold on Simon with no luck. This causes Eva to try and talk to Simon about his girlfriend and his true feelings, while Richard becomes more confrontational with Simon after he tells his friends about what he is seeing from the camera.
I'm going to go ahead and say that I really don't like found footage or handheld footage movies. To me it takes away from the full true development of the characters. It's shaky and you're limited be what is viewed through the camera eye only and it's being overused more and more due to the cheapness of the production of them. But I will give director Seve Schelenz a pass on this one considered that he tried to focus more on the drama aspect than the horror to me on this movie. I still would have like to see this as a true third person perspective for this film but this movie actually did manage to drag me into it by it's story more than the horror part of it. Don't get me wrong, there are horror aspects to it, such as a haunted camera. As well as some real good jump scares and weirdness dealing with what the camera sees. All in all though Schelenz has actually made a decent drama with horror elements thrown in and a story that really doesn't slow down except for one scene and a slow start to the movie.
The accidental discharging of a gun leaves a nice stain on a wall.
This camera...........It shows me things. It sees things.
For the "Hollywood" version of the film, Schelenz had developed an additional opening and closing scene. These additional bookend-style scenes were to be shot on film and the first involved an establishing shot of the video camera tucked away in a pawnshop. The same essential shot would be used at the end of the film but in a different pawnshop to show the video camera being "passed on" to the next victim. Schelenz decided to scrap these shots in the end.
Having worked with actor Bruce Greenwood in the past, Schelenz attempted to enlist Greenwood as one of the minor characters in the film but was unsuccessful.
It is never mentioned which city the characters are from or traveling to. Each time a character attempts to reveal this information, a loud noise or dropout in sound is purposely used to distort the dialogue.
After long debates over whether Rob Scattergood or the cinematographer should operate the actual filming camera, director Schelenz decided to go with the actor. It turned out to be the right choice, as Schelenz wanted to capture the feeling of a first-time video camera operator. Despite only having two hours to familiarize himself with the camera before the first day of principal photography, Scattergood eased into the role. As a result, the other actors were able to play off Scattergood's character more naturally.