The St-Francisville Experiment (2000)
Director: Ted Nicolaou
Tim Thomson/film director
Paul Cason/ghost hunter
Ryan Larson/history student
Madison Charap/psychic pest
Four obnoxious teens are sent to a "real" haunted house for a night so they can wander around and try to film "ghost" activity with their camcorders.
The marketing angle for this flick was that it was real. Like really real. It was supposed to hit theaters in September 2000. JoBlo and I were in cahoots with the studio to organize a give-away contest, interviews with the stars, etc.. The next thing you know, the studio stops responding to us and a month later I learned that the movie was going straight to video. Now I know why!
The only real thing about this film is that it’s a blatant "Blair Witch" rip-off. The rest is so fake that I can’t imagine how they thought they would fool the public in believing otherwise.
The film lifts many things from Blair Witch: The house has a horrible history (like the Burkitsville woods) and they bring in "real" people to talk about it "interview" style in front of the camera. All the interviews reek of phoniness. Even the ghost expert that goes by name of Troy Taylor felt phony and he’s the real thing! (or is he?)
Then there’s the whole camcorder thing . The f**kup here is that there are many scenes where it’s impossible that the "actor" filmed himself from that angle, especially in the action scenes. It's obvious that there’s a cameraman there with his own equipment. The problem is that in those scenes "the actors" are supposed to be alone.
The film plods along slowly with flat humor and way too many "surround ourselves by the white light" bullcrap from the psychic. She’s the worst character in the film and I just wanted to slap her. She never shuts up!!!
The occasional boo scares are tossed in (you bet a cat leaps out…how original), a chair flies, a ouija board is pulled out (the stop button almost came into play) and lots of prayers are chanted?!? We also get a "Blair Witch" like confession to the camera courtesy of Miss Charap. The close up gave me goose bumps. She’s just not pretty to look at that close. BORING…
The actors have no chemistry and they don’t feel like real people. Sometimes their actions are trivial. Example: Larson is the yelping chicken shite the whole time but when stuff starts falling down a chimney, she’s the first to stick her head in there to see wassup. Felt very out of character.
All of the teens are self-absorbed a-holes. The "Blair Witch" kids also had their a-hole moments but here it’s all the time. Did they want us to dislike these actors? If that was the point, mission accomplished.
The film does come to life in its last 10 minutes and I will admit feeling some tension. But that sole positive aspect is not enough to recommend the film. Instead of concentrating on trying to capitalize on Blair Witch’s success they should have taken the story (which is actually interesting, I loved the legend) and filmed it as a real film, with real directing and real actors. I’m sure it would have turned out better than this pile of spit.
Now let's tune in to The Arrow’s Experiment…
Madison Charap’s close ups are very gross and someone gets a shard of wood in his arm. Extra light.
It’s too bad Tim Thomson is mostly behind the camera because he’s the only one that’s good. He’s natural, cool and yes he has great hair. Paul Cason is a wimp, can’t dress and I really grew to dislike him. Ryan Larson is supposed to be a history student?? Come on…more like a GAP clerk. She comes across as such a ditz and her hysterical moments are phony and laughable. Nice stomach though. I cannot bash Madison Charap enough. First off, her character is the most annoying beeyatch this side of my ex-girlfriend. She never stops rambling on about "making peace with the house", or "surround yourself with white light", she keeps on stopping the action of the film with her damn prayers and incense. I wanted to kick her. The studio sold all the actors as non-actors. You know what? I believe them. THESE MOOKS CAN’T ACT!
T & A
Madison Charap gives us one cleavage shot near the beginning and Ryan Larson likes to wear her shirt so we can see her belly…I’d bite it!
None, but I will say that the camcorder action is way less jerky than the "Blair Witch". Some of the "actors" do some creative shots with their camcorders and tension does build up in the end (too bad the rest of the film lags). I did like the effect flashlights have on people’s faces. An old trick that always works.
Nothing apart from all the cursing I spat at the screen.
They should have given me a chainsaw and locked me in with these four brats. I would have created real horror. This flick is a waste of time and just proves how good "Blair Witch" is. The ending has some minor suspense but it’s not worth the torture you have to sit through to get there. Experiment over.
Despite producer Dana Scanlan’s assertions to FANGORIA that the filmmakers wanted to use people who were "not necessarily actors," it turns out that two of the cast have acting experience—including Larson, a graduate of LA’s Professional Actors Conservatory and a veteran of numerous theatrical productions.