Tag Archives: Found Footage

Guest Review: The Borderlands

Director: Elliot Goldner
Year: 2013
Score: 7.5/10
Reviewer: Drew Pontikis

"Dammit Mike, I warned you about listening to One Direction! I told you this would happen!"

“Dammit Mike, I warned you about listening to One Direction! I told you this would happen!”

Unlike many proper film people, I’m a fan of ‘found footage’ horror films. The criticism levelled at them is that the shaky handheld aspect of the footage negates the need to have any real cinematic craft, and in many cases this is true. Sometimes however, when they hit the sweet spot, they can throw out something a bit good. And that rather neatly brings me on to The Borderlands, one of the more intriguing found footage horror films that I’ve come across.

The film follows a team of Vatican investigators sent to debunk an apparent miracle that occurred in a small West Country church. All footage is courtesy of head cams and fixed point cameras that are positioned around the church in an attempt to capture/catch out the potential miracle. As they begin to experience paranormal activity occurring throughout the church they desperately search for a rational explanation, and there are some genuinely scary moments generated through a skilful use of the found footage medium.

What is particularly notable about The Borderlands is the ending. Where many films stoop to a lazy jump scare to get their kicks, this has a beautiful crescendo building up over the course of about half an hour that is one of the best I’ve seen in a horror film. You’re built up to a point where you think you’re going to jump, but then it just carries on building and building to the point where you find yourself ready to scream ‘I can’t take it just scare me now!’, and when it actually happens you’re genuinely shocked by the twist that they come up with.

The characters are realistic and easy to identify with, and aside from the horror elements the plot is actually quite deep and absorbing. If you are the kind of person who would normally dismiss a Paranormal Activity style found footage film as not for you, I would urge you to give this a whirl; it may just surprise you.

Drew Pontikis is an avid gamer and film fanatic. A fan of racing sims, first person shooters and horror films, Drew is notable for talking almost exclusively using Futurama quotes. Follow him on Twitter as @drew060609 or read his game reviews at http://obscenegaming.wordpress.com.

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Guest Review: Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

Director: Christopher B. Landon
Year: 2014
Score: 1/10
Reviewer: Drew Pontikis

I too experienced this desire to sew my eyelids shut during his movie.

I too experienced this desire to sew my eyelids shut during his movie.

Having enjoyed Paranormal Activity 4, I thought I’d give this a chance. It was a serious mistake, and I feel cheated out of an hour and a half of my life. I could have gone for a lovely walk. I could have written a poem. Hell, I could have played with my kids. But no – I watched this tidal wave of drivel for 84 minutes.

If anybody cares (you don’t), it follows the story of three teenage friends, one of whom finds a bite mark on his arm. He experiences some cool superhuman powers like being able to lean over a bit, then becomes possessed. The plot is laboured and pointless; it’s like it exists only to justify the daft ending of the previous film. It doesn’t make sense as the events only tie together if you take wild leaps of assumption, and even then it’s still fairly incoherent; it has the feel of a horror film put together by a committee of really bad media studies students. The only moment of enjoyment to be had in this film is when the fat kid falls on his arse.

It bears no resemblance to the preceding Paranormal Activity films, with only token links to the previous ones in order to justify its title. It is a thoroughly pointless film which at no point ventures above its own personal zenith of dreadful.

I was once told that the words ‘explosive diarrhoea’ were considered an example of onomatopoeia as your lips make the same movements saying it as your arse does when you experience it. I would imagine the same could be said of Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones as I imagine your lips make the same movements saying it as whatever sphincter it was that ejected this nonsense into a script did.

Drew Pontikis is an avid gamer and film fanatic. A fan of racing sims, first person shooters and horror films, Drew is notable for talking almost exclusively using Futurama quotes. Follow him on Twitter as @drew060609 or read his game reviews at http://obscenegaming.wordpress.com.

Guest Review: V/H/S/2

Directors: Simon Barrett, Adam Wingard, Eduardo Sánchez, Gregg Hale, Timo Tjahjanto, Gareth Huw Evans & Jason Eisener
Year: 2013
Score: 8.5/10
Reviewer: Drew Pontikis

The child version of Doom did not prove a huge success.

The child version of Doom did not prove a huge success.

A couple of things – I love found footage horror films, and I haven’t seen the original V/H/S. All good? Right. This film is unbelievable, and is by a clear margin the best horror film I’ve seen in a long time. For those unfamiliar with the premise, V/H/S/2 follows the found footage of two reporters who get into the house of a missing teenager, and then sit and watch a collection of found footage videos.

It just has everything. Ghosts, crazy cults, monsters, zombies… it just goes on and on. There’s several different short films, and although each is only about fifteen minutes long I found myself completely absorbed and at points genuinely frightened by what was going on. Particularly the cult one. Part of me would like to meet the people who dreamt this up, but the other part of me thinks that if I did it would be my civic duty to beat them to death and prevent them inflicting any more of their unfettered madness upon the world.

I know there’s divided opinion on found footage films. Many don’t like them, arguing that they’re lazy, unrealistic and difficult to lose yourself in. There are instances where this is true, and there is some absolute dross out there. You do, however, get some real gems. The Last Exorcism is fantastic, Paranormal Activity created a whole new genre and The Blair Witch Project (deal with it), whether you like it or not, will go down as a film that truly changed the horror landscape. As unusual as it is to say this about a sequel, V/H/S/2 deserves to sit alongside if not above all of them. Genuinely frightening, cleverly tied together footage wrapped around the most important quality a film of this nature needs: a reason for the protagonists to be holding a camera the whole damn time.

If you like horror films, you HAVE to see this one.

Drew Pontikis is an avid gamer and film fanatic. A fan of racing sims, first person shooters and horror films, Drew is notable for talking almost exclusively using Futurama quotes. Follow him on Twitter as @drew060609 or read his game reviews at http://obscenegaming.wordpress.com.

Guest Review: Paranormal Activity 4

Directors: Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman
Year: 2012
Score: 7/10
Reviewer: Drew Pontikis

Re-enacting the chest buster scene from Alien, but with less successful results.

Re-enacting the chestburster scene from Alien, but with less successful results.

Whilst the original was polarising between those who thought it was scary and those that thought it was dross, the second and third instalments were pretty much filed unanimously under dross. Why they bothered with a fourth (and fifth) was a bit beyond me, however I was pleasantly and terrifiedly surprised at how reinvigorated the franchise had become.

Breaking from the norm by starring a family outside of the cursed genealogical pool for the first time, there’s little to no effort made this time out to generate empathy in the characters. It is purely like watching CCTV footage of a family, and you don’t really bond with them at any point. That said, that’s part of what makes this one scary; it induces the sort of raw fear that you’d actually get from watching something real. There were moments (oh God were there moments) that you can see coming, you know they’re coming, and they’re toe curlingly frightening to watch unfold.

I would liken this much more to The Last Exorcism, one of the best horror films in recent times, than I would its Paranormal predecessors. It’s frightening, fresh and clever (especially the scenes with the Xbox Kinect), and well worth your time if you love a good horror film.

Drew Pontikis is an avid gamer and film fanatic. A fan of racing sims, first person shooters and horror films, Drew is notable for talking almost exclusively using Futurama quotes. Follow him on Twitter as @drew060609 or read his game reviews at http://obscenegaming.wordpress.com.