Let’s take a look at another micro-budget horror film.
Here we have a Canadian found-footage horror film. So, if you hate found footage, may as well pass on this one.
The film presents an episode format of a web series called Poltergeist Encounters, but we also get a bit of a look behind the camera. The group is offered a significant group of money to stay the night in a haunted (and abandoned) home. Micro-budget might be an understatement as this film is projected to have cost about $5,000, so the entire thing is shot via handheld.
I don’t hate found-footage. I think sometimes it is lazy, but I do like that it has allowed just about anyone who has the drive to make a film. The characters seem real, but they are also a little boring. We also have a group of people with questionable backgrounds, which is an interesting take, and they aren’t immediately unlikable. On the one hand, the film does a good job presenting these folks as the types who would have a web series of paranormal investigation. However, this also makes them seem relatively familiar to anyone who has seen any of those shows.
We may as well get out the obvious—the film looks pretty rough. The lighting in particular is problematic as it sometimes becomes hard to tell what you are looking at. Daytime shots are disrupted due to shaky cam. The sound picks up wind. The camera also seems to have some trouble focusing. The well lit interior shots work the best overall, but we can tell immediately that this film has very little budget. (Granted, this does make it seem more like a web series).
I do beg all horror creators to please stop adding static or screen distortion when something supernatural occurs. It is more frustrating than creepy most of the time, and perhaps more importantly, the static sound is quite biting for anyone watching with headphones.
The host, Anton is actually quite host-like. His main tech guy Mick is also believable in his role. I can actually see these two as friends via personality, and that helps with investment. However, we do have some stilted delivery of the lines at points. The odd pauses between speakers is present here at some points. Sometimes the delivery is natural, other times you can almost see the prompt for them to start talking. The other two ghost hunters are fine, but they feel a little out of place (particularly since we spent so much time with the other two). The four as a crew just doesn’t seem to mesh as well. They all fill the standard archetypes of a ghost crew, but it just didn’t jive this time.
I know I already mentioned this, but the lighting is rough here. We also have the crew willingly stay in poorly lit rooms for no real reason. Sure, the scares can be in the dark, but let’s turn the lights on for the exposition—please.
The film certainly takes its time getting rolling. It does maintain a level of interest (minus the poor lighting), but it isn’t successful in building tension. We are more so hanging out with a group of folks as they start another round of work. It is at about the halfway point we get the first scare, but it breaks away from this scene quite quickly. The naturalness of the film breaks down in the second half. Poor effects are problematic, but we also have oddly framed scenes and discussions surrounding the events that drag the narrative pace to a crawl. I think the writers wanted the characters to seem rational, so they talk thing out. While this does make them less of idiots than most films (until the final act), it does hurt the pace. There has to be a happy medium to find here.
The film is entertaining enough for horror junkies, but otherwise it gets a little washed out by the dozens and dozens of similar films. Efforts to disrupt the norm don’t really work (at least they tried). Pry worth passing on unless you love this type of film.