Reviewed by: Jake Dee
What's it about
Brooke Marks, a so-called "real life" webcam girl, puts herself in far too a precarious situation by letting online viewers into her life. What follows, VLOG, is her brutal death shown in an ostensible snuff film. But where's the body?
Is it good movie?
Dubbed as the first feature film made for the internet only, Joshua Butler's VOLG was either made simultaneously with, or is comprised of, a series of short videos (vlog entries) starring centerfold Brooke Marks. Having a woman play herself in the film, using her real name, we're led to believe this is a real series of amateur webcam footage. As Brooke puts it, she wants to have fun, let people into her life, and be real. Whatever the hell that means, the poor girl ends up getting offed in the first few minutes. We then backtrack, witnessing Brooke's shady dealings in the days leading up to her demise. A few gnarly deaths scenes, a whole hell of a lot of convolution, and a pretty damn tired resolution follow suit!
Joshua Butler's 71 minute assemblage of footage known as VLOG is just that, a skein of short clips, each of which seem made a week apart (as webisodes, ya dig). At the end of the web-series, all of the episodes were apparently mashed together and presented as this feature film, which, as you might imagine, seems awfully fractured. We open with Brooke's cheeky address to the camera. She's cute and charming and all, but her dialogue painfully makes her sound like she's trying way too hard to be cool. Cute girls can be funny, we get it. Next thing we know she's dating around, and as ever the open book her life has become, she's pissed some dude off with her gallivanting ways. She also has fans though, who aren't taking any shit. Soon, a few bodies mount and predictably snap ending concludes the proceedings.
Okay, so VLOG is not a very good movie, let's be clear. It's muddled, uninspired, and although propped by its own conceit, feels mighty amateurish. I get the thought process, with such a low budget, let's tell a story that inherently calls for low-tech filmmaking...shooting with webcams, etc. But that doesn't excuse the disjointed editing, incoherent storyline, and obvious payoff. Also, like with any technological crux to a film story, obsolescence comes into play. Made in 2008, when terms like "web-series" and "webisodes" were not really into the mainstream lexicon, today the film already feels dated and passť. None of the online stuff feels fresh, in fact I'd contend it hampers the film with each passing day. Put simply, there's nothing timeless about film. In that way it reminds of the film CHAIN LETTER, which also had an archaic technological crutch. Only difference is CHAIN LETTER should have come out a decade earlier, VLOG about half as long.
But if there's any reason to give VLOG a tune-in, it's for the death sequences. Three in particular, all done with great brio and bravado by practical FX (mostly anyway), are definitely among the standouts of the entire flick. I won't ruin anything, save for this lethal combination: a meat clever and sodium chloride! But as always, graphic butchery can only take you so far, and since we really care about none of these ill-fated characters to begin with, you can literally fast-forward through the film...watch the grisly slayings, and basically have the same emotional response. Cool to look at, sure, but they leave nary a lasting impression, at least emotionally. Still, in an otherwise ADD riddled film, these seem to be the only redeeming qualities.
All in all, VLOG isn't a very good movie now, nor would it have been if seen closer to its production date. The story lacks a compelling cogency, and more importantly, already feels technologically outmoded. Marks has a charming enough personality to watch onscreen, but really, everything about this film feels low-rent, including the acting support. Ingenuity is the best combatant for lack of resources, unfortunately the premise and execution of VLOG mirrors that of its hamstrings. It's not clever enough to overcome its weak foundation, and in the end, nothing inspires hints of greatness to come from anyone outside of the FX team.
Video / Audio
Dolby Digital 5.1
Anamorphic Widescreen Presentation 1.78:1
English Subtitles for Deaf and Hearing Impaired
Bonus video blogs from star Brooke Marks.
Only three years old, VLOG stills feels like a dated technological horror film. A few good kills, while admirable, can't account for too many narrative flaws and genre cliches.