After weeks of debating whether or not I should drag my old lady arse to a midnight screening of this movie, the movie went and did me the huge favor of releasing itself nationwide in normal movie-watching hours. Thank you. Thank you so very much, movie. Because midnight screenings? Good lord. Just not happening anymore. Nooooot happening.
So a week or so ago, at the safe-from-ghosts-in-the-daylight hour of 4:30pm, I bought myself a ticket and some popcorn, snuggled into a cozy seat in my local theater, and prepared to be scared to death.
Except, not really, of course. I mean, I’d read enough reviews of this movie declaring it to be “even scarier!” than The Blair Witch Project to know this movie wasn’t going to scare me at all. When all the reviewers say something is the scariest movie EVER (!!), I know I’m in for two hours of pure unscary disappointment. So, for once, FOR ONCE, I went into a majorly-hyped movie with my expectations in the metaphoric crapper.
And guess what! Keeping your expectations lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon rut is absolutely the way to go! Because, as it turned out, this movie totally did not suck! Oh frabjous day!
In fact, this movie ended up not-sucking so much I exited the theater however-many-minutes later pretty pleased. And you know what the secret is? As it turns out, the secret to making an unsucky scary movie is having no budget whatsoever. This movie was so low-budget it didn’t have enough money to suck. There wasn’t enough money for gore. There wasn’t enough money for showing us creatures or spooks or ghosts or anything. There just wasn’t enough money for special effects in general. And special effects are, in my opinion, what drain the scary right out of almost every scary movie made these days. You start dumping in the elaborate mutilations and gore, the elaborate creatures, the elaborate show-me-everythings!, and what you end up with is a movie that leaves nothing whatsoever left to the imagination. There’s absolutely nothing scarier than not having a clue as to what’s coming your way. Just leaving it to your brain work out all the specs. It’s what made Blair Witch scary. And it’s what makes Paranormal Activity scary too.
That said, this movie had an unfortunate number of flaws. Flaws that, had they only sent me the script first, I could’ve fixed for them in FIVE SECONDS FLAT. When — WHEN?! — will you people ever learn? TO SEND ME THE SCRIPT FIRST? Gah. But more on that in a sec.
Just in case you haven’t heard anything about this one yet, it’s about a young couple living in San Diego, Katie and Micah, who buy a video camera and set it up in their bedroom after Katie insists she/they are being haunted. Micah doesn’t believe her, of course — what sane person would? But he loves her, so he humors her. And then he starts watching the footage — whoa! — and it all kinda goes downhill for them both from there.
That’s all I’ll tell you in regards to the plot, and I highly recommend NOT watching the trailer for this movie before you go see it, either. The trailer has some of the spookiest moments in it, and discombobulated in that trailer, they simply aren’t scary at all. Having seen them before, then, they completely failed to surprise me in the film; it was more distracting than anything else to have them finally dropped into context. I think if I’d never seen those moments before, they might’ve truly given me a lovely chill. Instead, meh, not so much.
So, in lieu of more storytelling, allow me rather to detail for you the three biggest problems I had with this movie. I would not consider any of these major plot-wrecking “spoilers,” but if you are cautious about such things, you can skip the rest of this review and wait to read it until after you’ve seen the film yourself.
1. Katie’s Foot. Ooh, this one really bugged me. Every night, Katie and Micah get into bed, covered only by a sheet. And every night, Katie leaves one of her bare feet sticking out from under the covers. EVERY NIGHT. Now, tell me this: if you think you’re being haunted by a ghost or demon who creeps into your bedroom at night and breathes on your neck, would you EVER — EVER!! — leave your foot sticking out of the covers? No, you would not. I’m telling you right now, YOU. WOULD. NOT.
In fact, had it been me in that situation, I would not only have made sure every limb was safely tucked in, I would’ve been wearing footie-goddamn-pajamas to boot, and I don’t care if it’s summer in Southern California at the time. “Leave no inch of skin unshielded from demon breath” — it’s my motto in life, and it’s gotten me this far for a reason, people. Dear Katie, an hour into this movie, I could not help but think to myself you were totally asking for everything you got leaving that foot sticking out. And that goes double for when the ghost thing finally grabs your toes and pulls you right out of bed onto your ass, kerPLUNK.
2. The DEMON’S Foot. Oh man! You guys were doing AWESOME with the use-your-imagination thing until the stupid footprints part! Then you had to go and blow all the mystery by revealing the demon to be. . . a three-toed sloth! There is, quite frankly, nothing less scary than a three-toed sloth. Not even snails are less scary than three-toed sloths. Don’t believe me? Take a look at this thing. Get out, you crazy adorable munchkin! Give us a kiss.
3. The Very, Very Last Moment of This Movie. Without giving away anything about what happens, I’ll just say this movie needed to end about ten seconds before it actually ended, and that final stare into the camera followed by the lurching CGI effect — gah — was just CRAP. CRAP! What were you thinking? Bad enough with the three-toed sloth! You fools, you fools!
But honestly? Those are three pretty small things in a full-length movie. There were parts of the film that got a little slow and repetitive, especially early on, and there were whole chunks I would’ve written completely differently myself (a little silly, a little lacking in common sense, a little cliché). Overall, though, I was pretty pleased with this one. And I’m really looking forward to seeing a second time, when I’ll be a little less on guard for the crap, and a little more relaxed about simply enjoying what’s playing out on-screen. Recommended!
[Prequeue me at Netflix | Watch trailer (except, don’t)]
Genre: Horror, Ghosts
Cast: Micah Sloat, Katie Featherston, Michael Bayouth