A group of girls are terrorized by violent vagrants before succumbing to a horrific supernatural evil.
Some nights just don’t go the way you plan them. And some nights go so far wrong, it’s best to forget they ever happened. This is one of those nights. It’s Sian’s 21st birthday, and her friends have planned a low-rent night out by hosting a party for her and their friends in an abandoned warehouse.
But that’s not how this film begins. The film begins with a surreal montage, narrated by a radio personality telling the tale of five women who disappeared several days ago. She also relates a few urban legends about abductions and generally strange things. This montage is punctuated by placards giving statistics about people who go missing and how often they are found, or not.
Then we are at a pawn shop where a man is trying to sell a ring. He makes a deal for cash and a mini-dv camera. Doesn’t sound too bad of a deal, right? When he sits down later to check the camera out, he finds the tape in it is full. So he starts watching it.
Back to the birthday party. See, this is the camera Sian’s friends were documenting her birthday events on. It all starts out pretty harmless and predictable – Birthday greetings, some travel footage, eventually ending up at the aforementioned warehouse. The night hits some snags early on, what with one girl having a bit of a tantrum, and another one having a bit of naked fun with the birthday girl’s boyfriend. But hey, these things happen and the group moves on from them, sharing embarrassing stories about each other and having a few drinks.
The night seems to be back on track, until a group of unruly thugs crash the party. One of them grabs the camera and starts filming their portion of the night’s events. Things start getting brutal. The boyfriend gets one hell of a beatdown, and then the knives come out. The girls start to really freak out. Then our dirty party crashers start playing spin the bottle to decide who will get raped…FIRST. One of the girls tries to fight back and the thugs shoot her up with something, filming the whole thing. Obviously this party could not possibly get any worse.
And then it does.
Suddenly, the group hears a baby crying. In an abandoned warehouse? They choose to ignore it and proceed with the rape portion of the evening. The lights suddenly go out and then….
I should include a TRIGGER WARNING at this time. The brutality of the party crashers is not necessarily graphic, but could be disturbing to some viewers. There is no doubt as to what is going on and it’s truly bothersome to watch.
The good news is that there is something else in the warehouse. Something that doesn’t like these guys very much. But is it a saviour for these young women, or a fate worse than rape?
Using the light on the camera, the women try to work their way out of the warehouse, not knowing what else may be waiting for them, and the tape captures it all.
I have espoused a lot of hate for “found footage” style films. In defense of this opinion, I state that the trope has been so over-used that it’s almost a parody of itself. Seemingly very much inspired by The Blair Witch Project, this film has all the elements I would have expected – quick cuts, surrealistic angles, the obligatory IR sequence, and don’t forget the not-so-subtle hints at the supernatural.
One complaint I have about this style of film making is wondering why the character doesn’t just put down the camera and run. In this film, we are given a logical reason for that: they need the light to see where they are going. Having had a model camera similar to the one shown in the film, I know that the only way to keep that light on is to be filming.
Some really fascinating things were done with the score and the sound mix that elevate the tension for the viewer. In my opinion, this use of sound sets this film apart from others in the genre. The use of gore is minimal, but when you see it there is some really good stuff.
Oh, and our guy from the pawn shop? He’s not just a story telling device. This also makes me like this film more than others of this style.
I could go on, relating some neat trivia I discovered about the cast and crew, but I won’t. Instead, I’ll tell you that you should give this film a chance and look that stuff up for yourself.
On a scale of one to ten, ten being awesome, I’m giving this film 8 mini DV tapes.