Five friends are headed for some woodsy winter fun at a remote cabin (actually, more like a mansion), and as always there is one annoying twit who has to videotape everything. But when a sadistic stalker starts to mess with them big time, their fun filled birthday weekend goes straight to hell.
I know this is going to sound weird, but this movie is kind of like Blair Witch Project
and Lord of the Rings
. This is because for the better part of the movie, nothing much happens. But when the shit does hit the fan, it does so in a grand fashion that leaves you retarded on the floor and cowering in fear/excitement. I'll admit it, I found myself yawning and reaching for the fast forward button, but the performances from the cast in this handheld scarefest made me wait to see how hard the shit was going to hit once thrown into that proverbial fan. And while the long and boring scenes of these kids driving to their destination were tedious and did I mention long, there were enough sparse moments of dread to keep me interested, right up to the last half hour, which proudly and quite suddenly grabbed me by the balls and taught me a valuable lesson - handheld movies, when done right, can be really f*cking scary.
Now I wouldn't say this was scary on the level of [REC]
(my personal benchmark for verite horror these days), but there's something very frightening about the film's final moments. They did a great job of leading up to them and establishing menace and bad juju, but the horror of the payoff here feels personal, like it is actually happening, which is hard to accomplish in any movie. I also love how the movie was presented, as footage that was pieced together by the killer, cut along with his own footage from stalking the kids, with a little evening news "parents pleading to the camera" bit that was nice. This is also expanded upon on the website for the film, which sets up the whole missing persons/found footage angle nicely. The young actors all did a great job of carrying the film, and keeping the audience intrigued right to the final screams.
Director Dominic Perez shoots his handheld tale with style and, thankfully, some image stabilization turned ON! The footage is never jerky, and the ride is smooth as well as being scary. The cast is good, the writing is natural and even, and the tension is palpable from very early on in the movie. Despite all of the driving scenes, this baby pulls one hell of a right hook, and to say that is was a successful independent exercise in horror would be a gross understatement. I would love to see more from everyone involved, because this is some good horror here! See it if you can, and keep an eye out for this guy.
This was a screener with a nifty press kit disc, but nothing in the way of DVD-style features. Check out the awesome website though (through the order link above), which features video and content as if these kids had really gone missing (thus reinforcing the whole "found footage" concept of the movie...duh!)
There's always been something about this more personal and immediate style of horror that has always killed me. When it's done wrong, it's nothing but crap, but done right and it's a marvelously scary thing. You could take every big budget horror movie from the past two years and they all wouldn't add up to the shear "shit your pants" scares that are in the last half hour of this movie. Very nicely done indeed! Dominic Perez is one awesome director, and there are surely great things coming from this man, I'm sure. Me, I can't wait. If it's half as scary as the last moments of this movie, he'll have my ass.