Tag Archives: “Found Footage”

Cinema-Maniac: Unfriended (2014) Movie Review

The following is an actual text chat between friends up on social media websites called “Facebook”, and “Skype”. This horrific event has been approved to be shared to the public by the authorities. Which ones specifically? Just, the authorities.

[The following is taken from Facebook]

Cesar: “Let’s watch Unfriended. Who knows you might enjoy it you said!”

Matoi: “The premise hasn’t been done to death in the horror genre.”

Cesar: “It’s no different than text chatting on literally any website with someone. Worse of all, I had to pay actual money for what was basically “Reaction: The Feature Length Film”. What a waste of day off. Thanks allot.”

Izanagi: “Hello suckas! That movie was eh.”

Cesar: “Eh? You’re telling me a whole film of people simply looking at their laptop camera classifies as an “eh” film for you?”

Izanagi: “It was realistic…”

Cesar: “Realistic? You’re telling me a teenager who grew up with the internet, and social media doesn’t know what a troll is? Not only that, but you expect me to me to believe this whole thing was recorded, and every one of the victims parents was apparently okay with this being shown to the public. Something like this isn’t public domain, you need people consent or they could sue you. You’re telling me the parents wouldn’t sue the film distributors for releasing this! There wasn’t even a text box that stated “We were granted the parents consent to show this”. That alone guarantees failure before starting the film since the number one thing 98% of found footage movies get wrong is simple logic!”

Matoi: “You’re thinking too much on that. What really bothers me is the fact despite YouTube strict regulations they apparently allowed a video where someone is being bullied to be up. Even though their policy strictly claims they do not approve of harrassments. The first sentence on their harassment, and cyberbullying policy says “We want you to use YouTube without fear of being subjected to malicious harassment”. If this was posted on a website like 4chan where any kind of content can be posted, or even the Deep Web I would have bought it. Nope, that didn’t happen so it invalidated the entire movie. That’s not even taking into account the title tells someone to kill themself.”

Izanagi: “Strict? YouTube is the website where you can find videos of people dying. So that’s far from its biggest issue. For the sake of this discussion that ruined the illusion for you. You don’t need to bring up the gap in logic by applying real world knowledge, streaming site policies, or even the law into it, but who stands around in a chat room quietly waiting for their one friend to finish writing to someone. I know what I would do, talk to one of the possibly 4 other people in that chat room!”

Cesar: “Seriously, the standards for horror films have fallen. I mean seriously, if the film was found footage why was the sound edited whenever Blaire played music. Or that one time the sound in the background was edited out so we could hear typing.”

Izanagi: “What did you expect? Need I remind you the awfulness that was M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Visit” even without my bet being made. People consider that a good movie by Shyamalan’s standard. If that’s a phrase that will get thrown around it’s no better than saying this movie was good by bad movie standards.”

Matoi: “Can we talk about the part where Cesar wouldn’t stop complaining through the entire thing. You were starting to get more annoying than the characters in the movie.”

Cesar: “Well when a fat guy takes the time to show us his blender of course I’m going to complain. Like I’m really going to question this guy has a blender in his house. It was unnecessary to deliberately show us he has a blender. That would like me showing you my dick to establish I have one, and then get killed by later on.”

Matoi: “No microscope would be able to see that tiny thing.”

Izanagi: “OHHHHHHHHH! You got burned!”

Cesar: “Walked right into that one.”

Matoi: “So you’re going to write about this garbage thing.”

Cesar: “You kidding me. It’s another awful found footage movie. They’re a dime a dozen. What am I going to say about this one that I can’t say for the majority of them. Bad acting, too polish on the production side to actually believe regular people recorded this, abusing jump scares, having no idea of proper cinematography in this genre, having credit sequences crediting actors playing these “real” people, and so much more.”

Izanagi: “Oh? Someone called the Phantom wants to join our chat?”

Matoi: “Well, clearly deny them access, and block them.”

Izanagi: “I’ll get on that.”

Cesar: “Even this basic action the film got incorrectly. Oh, also they could simply ignore the fake account, and go on with their chat. If not, simply tell everyone else to meet somewhere in person. Shut off the internet box in your house. You know, leave the laptop unattended if you believe it’s possessed. They could have done anything to survive, and the ghost didn’t have any power to force them to stay either in that one location. Don’t you find it funny the chick who committed suicide profile wasn’t already a memorial before the movie started?”

Matoi: “Says the guy who wrote a slightly positive review for Sharknado. Eh, still it’s a good point. At least in Sharknado, the titled tells you straight out the kind of logic it’ll have. In this, if I’m expected to believe this could happen to us it needed more researched to be done.”

Izanagi: “They won’t leave me alone, and the Phantom user might have multiple accounts. So why don’t we just text, or video chat on another site.”

During this time it’s unknown to account what happened to the three, but it is confirmed that a minute after that message the three went on Skype.

Like what you here? Because this is how the entire movie is like.

[The following is taken from Skype]

Cesar: “So…”

Sex heard could heard in the background.

Matoi: “Cesar, are you watching porn?”

Cesar: “Uh no. I don’t watch anime when you’re around so what makes you think I’ll put on porn?”

Izanagi: “It’s me. I was watching an episode of Impractical Jokers.”

Cesar: “Sure you were.”

Izanagi: “No seriously I was!”

Horses could heard in the background.

Matoi: “The more you know. Ewww!”

Cesar: “Turned that off.”

Izanagi: “Fine. There you happy.”

Cesar: “Why yes I am.”

Izanagi: “Another unrealistic thing about the movie is Skype doesn’t record video chats. So how did the filmmakers get the footage? It can’t be found footage, if, you know, IT WAS NEVER RECORDED IN THE FIRST! Oh gosh. You infected with your cynical disease. Now how am I going to enjoy anything ever again?”

Matoi: “Stop exaggerating Izanagi. We all know you would have to be decontaminated if you’re infected with whatever Cesar was diagnose with. Any thoughts on the acting.”

Cesar: “The acting was nonexistent. They were given badly written characters to portray, and some awful dialogue to say. Oh, my favorite part of the film was the unrealistic moment when the power goes out in the of teens house, yet his internet is fine.”

Matoi: “Ghost Internet, a SyFy channel original movie.”

Cesar: “lol. I would so see that. Would be a much better movie than this.”

Izanagi: “What about everything else?”

Cesar: “I mean what else is there to talk about.”

Matoi: “Well there was Blaire who went crazy when her boyfriend didn’t reply to her immediately. Seriously, wait a bit for a reply.”

Izanagi: “Oh man that was boring. It’s one thing to actually do it, but seeing someone type a Facebook message in complete silence is not what I would call a good movie”

Matoi: “I seriously hate jump scares. I hate it more when it’s the only thing a horror movie tries to scare you with.”

Izanagi: “You know what my favorite part was? The fact the Ghost actually repositioned the webcams to show whenever she kills someone. How considerate of a vengeful spirit.”

Cesar: “So it unanimous among us this movie sucked. The writing is all over the place, the acting is nonexistent, relies only on jump scares to, and virtually nothing about it is redeemable.”

Izanagi: “I would say it’s unredeemable. It didn’t drag out, and the premise makes it reasonable for it to be called a “Found Footage” movie even if the writing is weak. It did something different in a tired genre. That was enough for me.”

Matoi: “Horny teenagers getting killed in a horror movie isn’t new.”

It’s at this very moment the power went out, and this is where it is presumed the three of these individuals made contact with aliens.

Wasn’t joking. Ever chatted on Skype for 90 minutes? Basically like seeing this movie minus entertainment.

[The following is taken from a Facebook text chat]

Izanagi: “I still can’t feel my face! Seriously, they asked so many questions in 12 hours.”

Cesar: “You are lucky your rich okay. My boss, the first thing he does when I tell him I spend my day being questioned by the police is yell at me for not going to work. I seriously got no idea how I put up with him.”

Matoi: “12 hours? I was out in half an hour. Afterwards I went on a date.”

Izanagi: “With a cop?”

Matoi: “Nah! Some guy from my dorms. He wouldn’t let me talk so it ended quickly.”

Cesar: “Well, I’m just happy all three of us turned out fine. ”

Izanagi: “Later guys!”

Matoi: “You’re leaving already? Then what was the point of you joining this text chat.”

Izanagi has left the chat room

Cesar: “It’s just us now. Oh man. I do not look forward to tomorrow.”

Matoi: “How come?”

Cesar: “I’m suppose to meet some filmmakers I’ve never heard off. They want to turn our story into a found footage horror film.”

Matoi: “Really? Who’s playing me?”

Cesar: “Um, I think I overheard Dakota Johnson. I think she was in Fifty Shades of Grey, and Selena Gomez when walking out. I got some paper they gave me with potential casting.”

Matoi: “I guess I would be okay with Dakota Johnson, but not Selena Gomez.”

Cesar: “The part of Izanagi has been offered to Simon Yam, and Jacky Wu Jing!”

Matoi: “Who are they?”

Cesar: “Simon Yam is only one of the most acclaimed actor from Hong Kong, and Jacky Wu Jing is, well, a martial artist with some famous fight scenes under his belt!”

Matoi: “Well that’s lame. Why do I get the lame actors.”

Cesar: “You? What about me? The producers are contacting Justin Bieber, Kellen Lutz, and Lucas Cruikshank. The guy who played Fred on YouTube to play me. That is just terrible. No way am I’m giving them the rights to tell this story.”

Matoi: “Yeah, don’t give them permission.”

Cesar: “So, before I end the chat.”

Matoi: “No.”

Cesar: “Shot down again. This will be another chapter in the Biography of Heartbreak.”

Matoi: “Haha. You’re so lame.”

Cesar: “Oh well. Remember, stay awesome!”

Matoi: “You…you’re okay I guess. Bye!”

Matoi has left the chat room. Cesar has logged out of Facebook. The next day Cesar went back to talk to the film producers, but no one has seen since that day. Scary.

Public Disclosure: As a spokesperson for the authority, I, writer Nelson Greaves, and my colleague, writer/director Levan Gabriadze of Unfriended encourage all readers to not seek out the actual story of what transpire today. It was very disturbing, and very true what happened. No matter what, with caution, the internet can be a wonderful place. So please be careful, and do not ask Cesar, or his friends what happened as they’ll only feed you lies. Now, in the future please look forward to our next feature film titled Followed. It deals with the harassment of being followed on Twitter, and from our extensive research is the number one public stalking site on the internet. Very terrifying indeed when the whole world is given the power to stalk you. Also, currently in production there’s “Lying Faces”. A gut wrenching documentary about false friendships. You won’t believe profiles with insane lies in the film. We met a person who had around 500 friends on Facebook, but actually only knew around 30 of them. The truth of Facebook will be reveal to all. Finally, we’re proud to announce “PornHub: The Movie” which is our most accurate film to date. We had our entire production do research on this site to discover that all videoes on the site are actually recorded sex tape from real couples, even the animated ones! We were disturbed to see hundred of videos of mothers having sex with their children, people being held prisoners in sadistic dungeons, Angels having sex with humans, and so many others things. The world is a sick place, and we must inform the people.



Cinema-Maniac: The Visit (2015) Review

Pre-viewing discussion:

(interrupting a quiet day as a cashier)

Izanagi: “So will you see The Visit with me?”

Cesar: “Do Pigs sweat?”

Izanagi: “No”

Cesar: “There you go”

Izanagi: “You got to stop your bias thinking on M. Night Shyamalan”

Cesar: “Really? Okay, starting from 2002 all the way to 2010 M. Night Shyamalan was only ever attached to one good movie.”

Izanagi: “The Sixth Sense?”

Cesar gives Izanagi a grim look, and a head shake of disapproval.

Izanagi: “You didn’t even like The Sixth Sense!”

Cesar: “I did like Unbreakable, but that’s about it. In my book Shyamalan is a mystery. Kinda like Neill Blomkamp, minus starting off with a great movie, and then declining. Shyamalan was bad for me out of the gate.”

Izanagi: “Come on! See it with me!”

Cesar: “You have two things working against you. One I already mentioned, and to reiterate M. Night Shyamalan is a terrible writer. Second is the found footage format, and I’ll stand by my claim by saying 98% of found footage movies are garbage. Also, if it is like his other movies it’s going to have a plot twist.”

Izanagi: “Even if it does you won’t guess the twist.”

Cesar: “Give me the setup”

Izanagi: “It’s about two kids visiting their grandparents…”

Cesar interrupts Izanagi to say what he believes is the twist.

Izanagi: “If that’s so, only one way to find out.”

Cesar: “Fine, but if I win you buy me a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey.”

Izanagi: “Jigoku no!”

Cesar: “There you go I win.”

Izanagi: “Fine I agree, but if I win you have to…see Jack and Jill”

Cesar: “No way. I could barely tolerate one Adam Sandler. I don’t even want to picture two of him in one movie”

Izanagi: “Afraid now are we?”

Cesar: “Fine, but if anything happens to me….”

Izanagi: “Like the time Ooga Booga made your soul leave your body, or the time you had a bomb inserted in your balls, and timed to explode when you reviewed Diana. I’m sure you’ll survive this”

When I heard about “The Visit” I immediately lost interest even before knowing who was involved in it. The title alone kept me away, but when I discover the two other factors; M Night. Shyamalan, and the found footage format it was “No Zone” film for me. One thing I hate about the found footage format is that it’s the most insulting sub-genre in film. Allot of found footage movies claim they’re real which immediately discredits them. Not only that, but virtually everyone in a found footage movie has an HD camera to record whatever incident they are in. Cameras have gotten better from their conception, but I’m expected to believe every single person has an HD camera to record what they’re seeing. To further explain my distaste for found footage films are the force justification for a character to film everything they’re doing, and not let go of the camera. If some of these movies incorporated traditional scenes along with the “found footage” scenes I would believe what I’m seeing a lot easier. Except I’m not, and the first found footage film, Cannibal Holocaust, has hard to watch content (actual animals are killed on-screen) is still a high point in this sub-genre. Combine a movie with one of my most hated writer of all film, and my most hated sub-genre you have “The Visit”.

The Visit I will not provide a synopsis for. I want to reiterate this is an M. Night Shyamalan film so by nature if you know his writing any description of the premise can spoil the movie. Therefore, any review that has a synopsis for the “The Visit” fan or no fan of the director should consider them spoilers. Now, the first thing that raised a red flag about the poor writing skill of Shyamalan was a mistake in the first five minutes. We’re told the mother of the main characters was contacted by her parents through the internet, and the grandparents want to see their grand kids. So this would have not caused any suspicions if the mother did not established she had a rocky relationship with her parents, and has not seen them for 15 years in the first two minutes of the movie. First of all, by simply saying she got a phone call would have been believable, but nope the mother simply says the internet is how her parents found her. You know, that thing is basically a digital ocean of information. Two, the protagonist’s mother found out about her grandparents being counselor through the internet also.

(Cesar drinks an entire beer bottle.)

You gotta be kidding. I was hoping I would never have to say this because there is bad filmmakers, and then Jorge Ameer who is worse. M. Night Shyamalan writing has crossed over into Jorge Ameer territory. In 2013, Jorge Ameer wrote a movie called D’Agostino where the main character found an entire backstory for a pet human slave by simply typing his name, D’Agostino, on the internet. Shyamalan writing is similar to that of Jorge Ameer in this instance. Third, is the mother keeping tabs on her parents at all times? It would explain how she quickly  manage to found out about her parents started counseling. Four, the main character, Becca, is an aspiring filmmaker whose filming the events for a documentary. One important thing about documentaries would be research. So how come Becca didn’t tell her mother to show her a picture of her grandparents? I found this suspicious which is extremely good for those like me who just love to prove the overly hated, overly criticized M. Night Shyamalan “talent” has been overlooked.

Izanagi: “Dude, get on with it!”

Cesar: “I would, but I still got to complain about the first five minutes.”

Izanagi: “Man you suck!”

Five, the protagonist’s mother went to her parents counseling website, and finds no picture of them? Now, because this is a Shyamalan film within the first two-minute I figured out the twist. At least in Signs (2002), the twist wasn’t easy to spot. Sure it turned to be plot breaking, and rendered the premise broken, but I wasn’t able to predict the twist. Here, everything that has been established in the first five minutes of the film, and the lack of logic in it only serves to giveaway the twist. Six, if Becca actually saw a picture of her grandparents the film itself wouldn’t exist. This leap of logic is needed in order for there to be a film. If there’s no sound foundation for the story to begins then it’ll serve hurt it more in the long run with more mistakes.

Seven, the mother despite telling her kids not to go still lets her kids go visit their grandparents. If this was written competently than the mother would accompany the kids instead of leaving them on their own despite what her kids wanted. You know, like a reasonably concerned parent. Shyamalan could have used the mother memory against her. A simple “It’s been so long. I don’t recognize you mom, and dad” would have been enough to buy into this setup. It’s established that the mother hasn’t see her grandparents in fifteen years, and some of these simple changes would have removed these plot holes. I was willing to look past this immediate failed setup by Shyamalan until, Tyler (one of our main characters) attempted to make Vanilla Ice rapping seem like Tupac Shakur in comparison with the following rap.

Tyler: “Girl. I’m chilling again. I feelin again. I am like Iron-Man and Batman. I’m a hero again. Ugh. You think I’m little, but last month I grew an inch, and a quarter again. You think you’re 2 good for me. But that’s really a joke, cause you c. That doesn’t bother me. Cause I’m not a sensitive blough. Ugh. Now in the end, you’ll be in my bed. We won’t be just friends. You’ll write inappropriate text, and hit send. We share a Starbucks frappuccino blend dog. And see this isn’t just philosophy. It’s based on science you see. My Mista Pediatrician disconfront for me. You tall skanks! I’m going through puberty. Hoe!”

Izanagi: “Oh, man. That was just painful.”

Cesar: “Pass me the mic.”

Izanagi: “Dude, just forget it please. That rap was awful. Let’s just move on.”

Cesar: “No, no. I need to illustrate how incompetent M. Night Shyamalan is at writing.”

Izanagi: “You eventually will with the rest of the review! It’s already bloated enough.”

(Cesar grabs a mic out of thin air, and begins rapping)

Cesar: “The same old boring day just keeps rewinding. Everybody’s fear just keeps on binding. Still they act tough, like they’re hot stuff, but it all doesn’t matter cause it’s all a big bluff. The same routine everyday is boring. Need to get outside and start exploring. Thoughts in my mind are overlapping. I’m running out of lines to keep on rapping. What did you think?”

Izanagi: “…That was good.”

(Cesar, drops the mic.)

Cesar: “M. Night got nothing on me. I wasn’t raised the streets foo!”

Izanagi: “Well, he was nominated once for an Oscar for his screenplay for The Sixth Sense”

Cesar: “Stanley Kubrick received a Razzie nomination for Worst Director for The Shining, and Brian De Palma received one for Scarface (1983). Awards, and nominations does not make talent factual.”

With the first five minutes of the film alone I already have enough material to post a satisfying review. Not only did I bring up issues with the premise itself that it never fixes, but also presented solutions to some of those problems that could have led to a better film. However, if I stopped at just the first five-minutes that would leave many to discredit my position on the film, even though I just proved, and provided reasons as to why the writing is broken.

The Visit is meant to be a comedy, and horror film preferring the former genre for its overall tone. However, Shyamalan does not know when to implement comedy. There’s a scene where Tyler goes into a tool shed of sorts that is setting up a horror scene. Tyler enters this dark shed, and says throughout the scene how much it smells. This destroys the atmosphere the scene was going for, and misleads the viewer into thinking they’re meant to be afraid of what’s in this shed. When the scene is solely comedy it doesn’t hit well. Besides timing, the cast is filled with only two major characters to follow, and aren’t written to balance the horror, and comedy of the movie. Becca is mostly serious in the film so she is not reliable for humor. She hardly breaks out of her serious mold, and when she does it simply to set up a horror scene with no payoff. Then there’s Tyler who has the role of being comedy relief. He has to rap terribly in the movie for comedy relief, and also be taken seriously. He’s a character whose poorly written because little about him is developed beyond the fact he wants to be a rapper. As for his backstory revolving around dealing with his father leaving from his life at a young age affects Becca more than it does Tyler. With Tyler constantly shown without concern for serious issues until the last act rolls in. Tyler is never an engaging character.

There’s a moment in the film when Tyler says, and I want to emphasize M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN WROTE THIS! Tyler says, “No one gives a crap about cinematic standard. It’s not the 1800s. Have you seen reality TV? Housekeepers of Houston has like a billion viewers!”.

Cesar cynically clapping.

Thank you M. Night Shyamalan for reaffirming your negative attributes from your ego, not listening to criticism, and sheer ignorance for proper filmmaking with this dialogue. You dare insult the audience telling them they don’t have cinematic standards? Not only that, but you’re only defense is reality TV is popular? Have you missed Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Oz, The Twilight Zone (1959 – 1964), and other great series so you could cherry pick only reality television? M. Night, you just can’t assume you’re critical stance is correct with a narrowed mindset like yours. Maybe if you know, you were anything like Steven F$%@ing Spielberg you might be taken seriously with this claim. You do have Becca counterarguing Tyler claims, but the fact is M. Night Shyamalan is solely credited as the writer, and told everyone (including his fans, who might even hate reality TV) they do not care about cinematic standards. If professional film critics, and audiences didn’t have cinematic standards Shyamalan people would be eating up “The Last Airbender” just on name value alone.

There’s also the introduction of two characters in the movie that go absolutely nowhere. On this trip, what were the chances that Becca would filmed two completely random adults who used to be actors. One during the train ride in the beginning of the film, and another twenty minutes in when someone came up to check up on the grandparents. These two characters don’t do much from the single scene they are in besides being more evidence to assure viewers who made predictions on the twist. Another person is brought up in the film is a stranger who just appears in an empty neighborhood to just get beat up by the grandpa.

Why this stands out so much is before grandpa, and the our main kids characters arrive at the high school their grandparents met each other. We’re shown the drive to that destination, and there’s hardly any people walking on the streets. Sure it’s winter, but another trick to good horror movies is removing the suspicion of there being any scares in a scene which can’t be done when the one time we’re shown the outside of this house is an empty neighborhood. Becca encourages her grandpa, and brother to play a game where they make up a story for a person in a building. I spotted the house where M. Night Shyamalan good ideas never existed.

Another aspect about this scene that also gave away the twist was the grandpa feeling like he was being followed. Now, we’re told these old people are counselor so when the grandfather acts funny by believing someone is following him it doesn’t add up. I mean, it’s part of his job to talk to people so this scene was also reaffirming my prediction on the twist, as well as breaking what’s established. If the grandpa simply stated one of his patients has it out of him problem solved, and nothing seems out of character. Except grandpa, and grandma never talk about their jobs, nor mention the people they help in detail.

The last secondary character that is worth mentioning is a young woman who brings food to the house. Seeing the lack of attention for establishing any form of normality this character also goes nowhere. If the lack of secondary characters didn’t giveaway there’s something clearly wrong with the situation then the interaction will. Shyamalan problem was immediately making the grandparents awkward for the kids to talk too. He does not show a gradual change from a welcome home environment with the grandparents to unsettling visit. This decision cost Shyamalan to write himself into a corner. Without establishing a sense of normality, or a nice family moment viewers will expect something bad to happen at the end. Also, there’s not a single shot of Becca, Tyler, and the grandparents all together in the same frame. Hmm, nothing suspicion is there. You think Becca, an aspiring filmmaker would at least want one shot of the entire family together for documentary, except the thought never pops in her mind. Hm, completely makes sense to me. Unfortunately, something bad did end up happening in the last act.

Izanagi: “No! Why?!”

Cesar: “I was right! I told you M. Night Shyamalan is a terrible writer!”

Izanagi: “I don’t know who I hate more right now. You for acting obnoxious for being correct, or the fact M. Night is still writing twists into his movies!”

Now the twist wasn’t hard to see to coming. Before the twist is revealed there is not a single scene in the film with the entire cast all together. The two kids, are never shown sharing a scene with both grandparents together besides when they meet for the first time. They either hang out with the grandpa, or the grandma. On top of that, every scene where the kids interact with the grandparents is written awkwardly. One way to counteract this would have been writing a single scene of the entire family having fun together. Except that never happens. Something has to go aray whenever the kids are with their grandparents. Then there’s the plain problem that the kids are mostly together implying they hardly hang out with the grandparents. Also, let’s not forget the counseling job is mentioned once in the beginning, and is briefly brought up again in the middle of the film. So connecting the dots wasn’t a difficult task for me. It wasn’t being used in the film to drive the plot so I made a note of it. The broken premise, combine with awkward interaction between kids and grandparents, the lack of secondary characters written in the film, the lack of the grandparents talking about their jobs or seen doing it, no nights at the grandparents house without some odd occurrence, and that it is written by M. Night Shyamalan made me confidence about my prediction. Also, the fact I dread being correct goes to show I take no pleasure in being correct about a bad piece of writing, and the whole film in general.

There’s still other elements to write about though. Those the are the characters which don’t have depths to them. Becca is an aspiring filmmaker, but talks about film in a snobish way. There is no enthusiasm towards her approach in filming. There’s also a subplot brought out of nowhere of how she doesn’t like looking at herself, even though there was a moment fifteen minutes into the film of Becca looking into a mirror when talking to Tyler. This would be better foreshadow if she turned around in that scene, and talked to Tyler. Also, she’s an aspiring filmmaker, and does not like looking at herself? There’s also this plot point of the kids father leaving them at a young age which also get brought out of nowhere at times. This eventually connects with why Becca is filming the documentary…but it’s very silly. A simple phone call would fix everything if all the mother was looking for was forgiveness. Then the plot twist opens up more plot holes, and brings up the serious lack of police world in this small town.

Now, the acting is surprisingly good. The dialogue is written awkwardly, and the kids don’t talk like kids, but they are convincing in their roles. Olivia Dejonge who plays Becca deliver convincingly her role of a troubled young teen. She sounds like she has built up resentment, sounds like she’s into filmmaking, and shows uncertainty on to how to feel in situations. Dejonge does not come across wooden in her performance. Dejonge comes across convincingly as her character. Ed Oxenbould best trait was his chemistry with Olivia Dejonge. I believed him, and Olivia Dejonge were siblings. Their chemistry felt natural in every sense of the word. However, Ed Oxenbould was the most annoying out of the cast. I blame Shyamalan for giving him his awful rapping scenes, but Oxenbould takes the blame for confusing shouting for comedy. Ed Oxenbould does not have the acting chops to sell good jokes because he has no charisma behind his setup, and punchline, let alone selling a film filled entirely of bad jokes. Making matter worse is he ends the film with another one of his terrible rapping scenes.

Deanna Dunagan plays the grandmother in the film. Aesthetically she fits the role by simply having to look old, but her appearances is her greatest attribute in this film. Managing to come across as some nice old lady, and flipping the switch into insane crazy old woman. She shows fear whenever she does anything odd which adds to the character uneasiness towards the kids. Dunagan comes across convincingly as a senile person. Lastly, Peter Mcrobbie gets a less showing performance compare to his co-star Dunagan. Mcrobbie comes as sincere in portrayal which is to his credit. He’s makes a character that little to explore, and acts naturally in it. There ain’t much to his performance besides being the more normal acting grandparent. The supporting don’t have screen time to make an impression making most of their inclusion in the film mostly pointless in one scene.

Night Shyamalan’s The Visit is just plain bad. It’s not a good movie by Shyamalan’s standards, nor ties for the worst films he’s made in his careers. By found footage standard, the acting is better than the genre generally provides, but the writing matches those of the worst in the genre. Then finally, the same mistakes 98% of found footage movies do The Visit also falls victim from audio being able to be heard despite long distances, the characters filming everything, and acting against reason. For instance, there’s a scene where the grandmother picks up a camera, and film herself attempting to enter her grandkids room with a knife with the intention to kill them. So despite losing her marbles this old woman has the sense to pick up a camera, but not destroy the footage? Shyamalan is not successful enough in creating a fictional illusion barely comprehending makes work of fiction engaging. Whatever made him think he could sell something else as reality to viewers is about as nonsensical as his writing.


Izanagi insisted I include this epilogue.

After-viewing discussion:

Izanagi (furiously looking at Cesar): “You’re such a buzz kill!”

Cesar: “I told you so Izanagi. This is M. Night Shyamalan we’re talking about.”

Izanagi: “You’re so obtuse on the guy! Other people enjoy his works. If you don’t, then don’t be a dick about it! There is no one out there who shares your same viewpoints on movies”

Cesar: “Fair point, but think about this. From my perspective, the hack that is M. Night Shyamalan gets more attention, articles, and discussions for his films over talented filmmakers like Charles Burnett who made a great biopic called Selma, Lord, Selma in 1998 for Walt Disney Pictures.”

Izanagi: “There is no way Disney made a film on Dr. King. I mean, hello. They’re Disney!”

(Izanagi takes out his phone to check if it’s true. Much to his dislike CM is correct.)

Izanagi looks at a smiling CM: “I hate you so much.”

Cinema-Maniac: Spirits In the Woods (2014) Review

I’ve been visiting the “Indie Scene” less frequently since it can take seven hours to reach my destination with good traffic. Also, the lack of any film property catching my attention. This year I tended to bat an eye away from them. However, “Spirit in the Wood” is different as John Lepper (a producer of the film) attempted to convince me it was worth my time. Once Lepper mention it was a found footage horror film I started walking off, but told me about it came into production. Apparently it was only possible through the fundings on Kickstarter.


Anthony Daniel who’s the writer, director, producer, music supervisor, casting manager, first degree idiot, and editor who despite not being able to get the budget he wanted still made the film. I can respect that in an aspiring filmmaker. With that finished I gave it a shot out of kindness knowing full well I might end up not liking it.

Once the film got started it was thankful enough to wait seven in to provide a title card that said, “All this footage is found and real. Viewers discretion is advised”. Thank goodness for that warning too since the acting in the first seven minutes is horrific. Not a single a movement, not a single line reading, nothing about the actors made me believe I was seeing real people. It didn’t help either the small audience didn’t buy it either. All that was presented in the first seven minutes are some college students mysteriously vanished (like the audience attention) when entering “Spiritual Woods” known to be haunted. Also, I should note that within these seven minutes it insults horror movies by claiming their plotlines are basically a fabric of fiction and nothing could compare to the real story of “Spiritual Woods”. Once your horror movie has “found footage” labeled to it your horror film lost all rights to trash talk any other horror film.

Spirit in the Woods is about five college students getting lost in the woods. For those wondering that’s the whole movie. Ideas are so scarce that every single thing wrong with the film can be generalized without in depth detail. You’ll find this hard to believe, but the film actually attempts to build up the sense that something is wrong by oddly positioned tree branches. Well they are in the woods and there are tree branches everywhere in the woods. I’m expected to sympathize for a couple of college students that believe there’s a correct way to position tree branches in the woods? Good luck trying to get anyone to a feel any emotions for these “real people”. Every scene is repetitive, conversations are repetitive, absolutely zero likable characters all of whom are annoying, lingers it deadweight proudly, and a ending that shoehorned in promotion for a sequel. So here’s a rundown of the plot without skimping on any details. Five college students get an assignment, five college students decide to do their assignment on “Spiritual Woods”, they go into “Spiritual Woods”, get lost, and killed. That is all folks that happens. Dialogue generally goes back and forth between “I heard something. Oh it was nothing”, “Wait I think I saw something? Oh never mind it was nothing”, and “We’re lost”. For sixty minutes the repetitive dialogue drive these points across. Around the twenty-eight minute in this lovely screen appears.

spirits in the wood

Dream Comet Studios (founded by the film director Anthony Daniel) had time to “fix up” the footage, but couldn’t be bothered to do a proper spell check. To get the point across to the filmmakers especially Anthony Daniel. Here’s an example so you’ll remember to how tell the two words apart. You use “are” as in these filmmakers are clueless about making a tolerable film. And “our” as in you wasted our (the audience) time with this technically unviewable film with no story. The rest of the film beyond that point is the same thing repeated. Five college students talk about hearing or seeing something that turns out to be not there and being lost. It isn’t until the final fifteen minutes that it breaks away from a cycle of repetition that hammers that perhaps something evil is in the woods. They get killed in by last minute plot twist by girl that just went insane. This twist is just spontaneous as the character never shows ever collapsing into a mental state of insanity by any signs.

Actual still from the movie.

The acting is atrocious by the non actors. Their performances prevents the film from selling any dreary mood in the haunted woods. They all come across as just bunch of annoying, dumb college students. As you noticed the image above that’s a picture I took right from the official Facebook page of the film. This pains me to say it, but it doesn’t look like it cost $1,300 dollars to make. At best the filmmakers got three cheap cameras, some gasoline, and some food which consider the talent behind the camera should be around one hundred dollar. Anyone could literally film their friends getting lost in the woods for around eighty minutes which is this biggest problem. Nothing about it presents any good quality from good filmmaking. The editing is a mess and the “fixed up” footage looks worse than the already grainy looking film. There’s no reason for every single moment to be filmed as contradicted by the “real people”. Whenever they say they should stop filming they immediately turn on the camera seconds later. It’s just horrible on every level. Even during the final ten minutes credits roll over a still playing film. Don’t these people know the important things in a movie come before the closing credits not during it.

Spirit in the Woods is the absolute holy grail of bad found footage horror movies. Presenting every negative aspects without a care like using its format as a gimmick, lingering in a deadweight plot where nothing happens, and the nerve to sell itself as “real” while insulting horror films for the same reasons itself fails for. This film is a complete failure in every conceivable way and should have remain lost to never punish any unsuspecting human being.


Extra: Personal Side Story

So right before the first of several closing credits sequences it has a badly photoshop missing persons poster that says to visit its Facebook page to learn more on the true story. Naturally I did and imagine my shock when the film official fan page posted updates mourning those who died in 2013. Then I go to director Anthony Daniel Facebook profile to find those same people who were considered dead in photo from this year thanking its cast. Just wow! That deserves a sarcastic round of applause as Anthony Daniel does give a VAN DAMME on the integrity of his own fiction and creation.

spirits in the woods

Cinema-Manaic: Lucky Bastard (2014) Review

It’s my immense displeasure that the first ever rated “NC-17” found footage film is also one of the worst films of it kind. Poor cinematography aside this is below the level incompetency not just from a storytelling perspective but as film-making as a whole.

Lucky Bastard is a “found footage” thriller about a porn website run by Mike that invites fans to have sex with porn stars. Supposedly the film claims it’s captured by the “Lucky Bastard” porn cameras and “is a fresh take on the “found footage” genre”. It does not bring a fresh perspective in the found footage genre. If anything it singlehandedly proves why this genre is very weak when it comes to telling a story. It is lazy, filled with plot holes, detestable characters, an absence of logic, and filled with enough material to teach young filmmakers how not make a film. These filmmakers behind “Lucky Bastard” are very talented to have made something beyond simply being awful.

The film begins by telling audiences that the “found footage” film is made of real footage with permissions of the signed participant to legally show the footage. “Found footage” filmmakers if you’re claiming your film contains real footage it’s a good idea to A.) Not include credits of the actors B.) Go with a credible premise and reasonable profession to why the person is constantly filming, and C.) Do not ever insert footage of a “real” crime scene if you only have one possible candidate for the killer. The opening title card is pretentious saying “For too long the adult entertainment industry has pushed the limit of not only obscenity but common sense”. Well I would blame propaganda films like “The Birth of A Nation” that idolizes the KKK that pushed the limit of common sense, but surely porn has done something worse. I mean who am I to argue about obscenity against the filmmakers. I have only seen several animals actually being killed on screen and a one containing an actual autopsy of a kid, but I’m sure the filmmakers would have some good argument to make a claim that bold. One viewing later and the filmmakers have no supporting arguments.

The first eight minutes are entirely pointless. In these eight minutes we see a woman objecting to filming rape porn, but then turns out she is filming rape porn. A bit of a redundant start and keeps getting lower (much to my surprise). I mention these eight minutes because male genitalia is censored in a “NC-17” rated film. The reasoning behind this makes no sense since naked women never come up censored. Not that I want to see male genitalia in my movie, but this is “NC-17” and if the film is set in the porn industry it should not hold anything back. We get a series of unlikable “victims” and questionable editing of why certain scenes were retain. In one scene a porn actress flirtatiously speaks to the camera and orgasm of the idea of doing taxes including a specific detail about saving money with coupons. Sadly this is the most erotic moment in the film since the whole picture lacks nudity and anyone with a personality.

Our so called “Lucky Bastard” is a stereotypical killer who you could tell is crazy from first sight (even the poster gives it away). The opening eight minutes eliminate any mystery since we know this random guy from the internet has no connection to any of the other characters. The killer is the most likable character because he is justified his action. The producer, cameraman, and porn stars are given no redeemable traits. We are told these people have kids, but are constantly mistreating the “Lucky Bastard” you find it difficult want cheer for the heroes death.

You think a website whose service allows viewers to have sex with porn stars would have a better idea of how to approach things like this. Not according to the film. There is a scene where our “Lucky Bastard” has a boner in the van and the producer tells him to go into a public restroom in a restaurant and wank off. Luckily the killer doesn’t take the producer advice, but why in the world anyone record something for a porn site in a public restaurant. Also, what kind of producer just tells someone to wank off in a public place out of nowhere. One thing I couldn’t buy (like my time back) was the porn star character. The porn star who agreed to have sex with the customer claims she’s a professional and has standards. That very difficult to believe when she agreed to have sex with some random crazy looking fan and was easily persuaded to do so.

I like the speech the producer gives to the “Lucky Bastard” about how if their was no more women they would be no more porn. Not true, there has to be around over a million sites just dedicated to porn and there’s these thing called computers and DVDs that can save these kind of videos. Sure straight and lesbian porn would no longer continue, but there literally thousands of hours of this stuff recorded on the internet. Also homoerotica would thrive in the industry since it would be the only new content being made and you think a guy working in the adult entertainment industry would know that.

When it comes time to the actual killings they disappoint. The killer is not bright killing one of the workers on camera, in broad daylight in a neighborhood, and when cars are passing by him committing the murder. The killer eliminate the rest by hitting one in the head with a bat and shooting three other victims in the back. Talk about lack of creativity in your killer. The killer also tells a guy to pointlessly wank off before pistol whipping him to death. As for the final death it’s unsatisfying for it also ends with someone being shot. I would sympathize with some of the victims, except they deserved it. One was constantly cheating on his wife and seeing how he mistreated his crew I find it difficult to feel any remorse for that specific character. The same could be applied to this film. It’s pretends to have something significant to say and a deep story that you can’t but hate it just for its immense pretentiousness.

“Lucky Bastard” is “found footage” film-making at it worst being pretentious believing it’s deep without a strong argument. The ambiguity of the mystery is diminish within minutes and giving us unlikable heroes is among the worse offense eliminating suspense. The killer is obvious and the way he kills his victims leaves something to be desired. The editing is cheap, the photography is hardly viewable without the camera shaking, and the acting is nonexistent. It has a terrible story that a porno would be embarrassed to have.