DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

 
V/H/S TAPE 56 (director: Adam Wingard; screenwriter: Simon Barrett; cinematographers: Andrew Droz Palermo/Michael J. Wilson/Adam Wingard; cast: Calvin Reeder (Gary), Lane Hughes (Zak), Adam Wingard (Brad), Frank Stack (Old Man); AMATEUR NIGHT (director: David Bruckner; screenwriters: David Bruckner & Nicolas Teckosky; cinematographer: Victoria K. Warren; cast: Hannah Fierman (Lily), Mike Donlan (Shane), Joe Sykes (Patrick), Drew Sawyer (Clint), Jas Sams (Lisa); SECOND HONEYMOON (director: Peter Phok & Ti West; cast: Joe Swanberg (Sam), Sophia Takal (Stephanie), Kate Lyn Sheil (The Girl); THURSDAY THE 17th (director/writer: Glenn McQuaid; cast: Norma C. Quinones (Wendy), Drew Moerlein (Joey), Jeanine Yoder (Samantha), Jason Yachanin (Spider), Bryce Burke (The Glitch); THE SICK THING THAT HAPPENED TO EMILY WHEN SHE WAS YOUNGER (director: Joe Swanberg; screenwriter: Simon Barrett; cinematographer: Adam Wingard; cast: Helen Rogers (Emily), Daniel Kaufman (James), Liz Harvey (The New Girl); 10/31/98 (director/writer: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett, Justin Martinez & Chad Villella; cinematographers: Tyler Gillett & Justin Martinez; cast: Chad Villella (Chad), Matt Bettinelli-Olpin (Matt), Tyler Gillett (Tyler), Paul Natonek (Paul), Nicole Erb (The Girl), John Walcutt (Cult Leader); Runtime: 116; MPAA Rating: R; Magnolia Pictures; 2012)

"The six segments vary in quality from awful to just bad, and at two hours the film is too long and too uneven to be a worthwhile watch."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Some indie promising and some newcomer horror pic directors and writers have a go at putting their stamp on the found footage genre, that began with the surprising shoestring budget hit The Blair Witch Project (1999). The six segments vary in quality from awful to just bad, and at two hours the film is too long and too uneven to be a worthwhile watch.

TAPE 56, the wraparound segment, relishes in its poor taste of showing four twenty-something white fratboy types pulling mean-spirited pranks and videotaping them to post for online viewing. They jump females in garages and expose their tits, vandalize buildings, rob homes and do a number of other anti-social criminal pranks seemingly mostly for their own pleasure. This episode is as bad as it sounds, but it sets the tone for the other episodes. The gang are hired by an anonymous Internet fan to invade a house and steal an unidentified videocassette and are told only that "You'll know it when you see it." The house has a dead man who passed on in his Lazy Boy while in front of several TVs, and the room is stacked with piles of VHS tapes. The gang watch the cassettes to see if they can come up with the right VHS their sponsor wants. The tapes seen include the following:

Amateur Night has some moronic fun-loving guys film their night out as they go out on a drinking binge, pick up two girls and take them back to a motel room. The shocker in this tale, probably the best in the series, is the one they pickup to screw called Lily might not be human.

Second Honeymoon has married couple Sam and Stephanie travel by car to Arizona for their vacation. The couple picks up a weirdo female hitchhiker, and at night they feel the creepy presence of someone in their room filming them.

Thursday the 17th has Wendy escorting friends on a trip into the woods, at a lake that was once the site of a gruesome massacre. When Wendy casually tells them they all will die, they are suddenly attacked by an unclear blur on their camcorder. This episode doesn't even seem original and is the least effective of the episodes.

The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger has Emily and aspiring medical doctor James in an online relationship, who keep in contact by webcam while both are in different cities. When she sees ghosts in her apartment, she cries out for his help.

10/31/98 has four friends in costume filming themselves as they attend a Halloween party. In the deserted party house they see ghosts. In the attic, they come upon a cult ritual of a girl about to be sacrificed.

It's an exploitative film, without charm, that seems like a film school project that relies on shock and cheap thrills to sell its unpleasant sicko stories, and gives another black eye to voyeurs (and the found footage helmers) who don't play by the decent civilized rules of respecting someone's privacy and, perhaps more importantly, cannot stop making amateur movies that suck big time.

REVIEWED ON 12/5/2012       GRADE: C-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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