Wednesday, January 2, 2013

52 Weeks of Horror Movies - Week 1

For the last couple of years I've been watching and reviewing horror movies in October and posting them in a thread on as "31 Days, 31 Horror Movies." This year I'm expanding a bit and trying to watch/write about them every week.

For those interested, here are those earlier threads:

These aren't critical reviews in the traditional sense - I don't have the background or interest in writing objective critiques of filmmaking - rather these are more subjective ramblings. I like horror movies and I like writing about them and that's about as deep as it goes.

Usually I'll be posting these on Thursdays, as Wednesday is my horror movie night (a concession to obsession that my wife has kindly bestowed). For this first installment, however, I've already got a movie written up and thought I'd post it early.


This is a movie that really sets itself up with the title. It’s a confusing mess of a found-footage horror movie that wastes a truly excellent location. I kept watching in part because I found the abandoned and overgrown hedge maze to be a visually interesting and atmospherically creepy place, but the shallow characterization, incoherent plot and long stretches of shaky night vision running made me want to murder the filmmakers and leave them in the abandoned well with the family dog.

We’ve got a Spanish family going for a vacation at the old family home in the country. They find an abandoned hedge maze to explore, play card games in front of a fire and the dog barks at nothing in the nighttime.  The two oldest kids, teens Cristian and July, are self-filming fanatics who are ostensibly shooting tape for a web show on urban legends. This flimsiest of excuses for the found footage is only mentioned a couple of times and as far as I can tell much of the footage is them filming each other because they’re bored. 

I know the feeling.

There’s a good idea for a film in there somewhere, but I think using the POV camera was too limiting. Our only POV is that of the two teens and they’re not that interesting.  Long stretches of time are spent just walking and arguing with each other. There’s little suspense and less characterization. I perked up a bit when the kids find a box of videos in the basement and watch some of The Bird With the Chrystal Plumage, thinking maybe this had something to do with the plot, but it’s just a way for the filmmakers to say “see, we love horror movies!”

It’s a slow, slow film. There’s little in the way of pacing and there are long stretches of time where nothing happens – even during midnight chase scenes. That lack of pacing just kills this movie and the filmmakers occasional use of fast-forwarding/rewinding to show us interesting bits really obliterates any immersion or suspense they might have otherwise developed.

There’s a legend about a lost girl and some postpartum psychosis nonsense, but it barely holds together and by the end I didn’t much care.

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