People agree to take part in a reality TV experiment, which will see them share an isolated house for six months. But with a week to go, do their backers want them out? (Synopsis taken from Angus Wolfe Murray’s review of the film because he sums it up well and IMDB let me down again)
Yo dudes, how’s it hanging? Today I’m reviewing a little film I included in my latest haul from Cex. It’s been described as Big Brother meets Friday the 13th, if you can imagine such a thing, and the DVD cover was so intriguing that I had to pick it up. The two-disc DVD set is packed full of extras, too, so there’s plenty to explore. Let’s get cracking!
The film’s premise is set up with a few words:
‘5 contestants for reality webcast
Spend 6 months in a house for $1 million
If anyone leaves, everyone loses!’
Oh right, so it’s like that film The Experiment, only worse cinematography. Also, bloody hell, SIX MONTHS? I couldn’t spend that long in a house with my FRIENDS, let alone a bunch of strangers.
We’re shown the lucky five contestant’s video applications, and then skip over most of the six months in under three minutes of film time. So we don’t get to see them bonding and forming strong friendships, but we do get to see Charlie’s breasts a few times, so there’s that.
Anyway, as I say, the six months are almost up and the group is looking forward to leaving the house and spending their moolah. Unfortunately, the house is playing up – the heating’s off, for one thing, and birds are attacking.
“Jesus, I’ve never heard so many f***ing owls. You think they have a tape out there?”
Oh, pretty please let this plot devolve into a vicious outbreak of zombie owls.
In fact, the bird attacks continue when they discover a crow flying around in the attic. Subtle reference to The Birds? I wouldn’t be surprised. Anyway, more things start going wrong, including notes abolut the death of a grandfather, strange writing in the frost on the window, a handgun delivered in the group’s daily supply package, all sorts. Rex is convinced that it’s all a ploy from the company to get them to quit, while Emma, the demure blonde lady, is sure they’re being stalked by a former childhood friend of hers. So, do they stay or do they go now? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Now, I went into this film with reasonably high expectations. As I said, the DVD box art was superb and the concept was quite intriguing. How many bad things could possibly happen to five people in a cabin in the wwwwwwait a minute.
I’ll get a few things out of the way before I delve into the review proper. Evil Dead references are dropped. The isolated cabin has a creaky swingseat, axes are swung, and one of the housemates even plays Evil Dead: Hail to the King on the PS1. All well and good – everyone likes a bit of Evil Dead. However, the reference I was more interested in was the single clip shown of The Breakfast Club. The housemates are watching the scene in which the Breakfast Club members discuss what they’d do for a million dollars. And even before I sat through the DVD commentary of My Little Eye, I picked up on the fact that THESE characters are meant to be jaded versions of THOSE characters.
We’ve got Emma as our pristine and slightly self-absorbed leading lady; Danny as the introspective nerdy type with a slight crush on her; Rex as the borderline criminal jerkass who hates the establishment; Matt as the athletic dark horse character; and Charlie, who is a basket case in her own way. It wouldn’t be a stretch for her to say, “I’ll do anything sexual; I don’t need a million dollars to do it either”.
Normally in this sort of horror movie set-up, the doomed group is composed more of archetypal characters than people with actual personality, but as long as I kept the Breakfast Club parallel in mind, I could sit through this.
Now, there’s a very palpable sense of terror as the housemates are increasingly messed with by an unseen person or persons, and it makes the viewer curious to see how much they’re prepared to go through to win a million dollars. As you might expect, the film is framed within the multi-camera set-up of their location, and so we see the characters as the webcast subscribers do… with the exception of a few shots that don’t really fit in.
The seriousness of the Webcast Club’s situation spikes when Danny is found to have hanged himself (funny, since his counterpart, Brian, is in detention for having a gun found in his locker. Bit of a link there, methinks). It’s around this time that Rex gets on the internet by using the satellite uplink of something or other; I don’t know, he learned how to do it in Computer Club.
He figures out that their webcast is situated on a hard-to-find beta site, which is fairly dodgy, and also that there are betting odds next to their profiles. OMG, they’re in a livestream snuff movie!
The movie has a few final twists towards the end – i.e., which of the housemates is working for the company, and what happens when Emma tries to escape. I don’t want to say anything about that here, because the film does play with the idea of the unseen evil and I liked the direction it took with it.
One final point of interest for the DVD itself is something called the ‘Interactive Mode’. If you enter the correct password, you get to watch the film EXACTLY the way a subscriber would. It’s not brilliant by any means, but it’s an option. It’s a choice. I’ll take it.
This film managed to exceed my expectations, which is always nice. Whether or not my expectations have been lowered due to watching Paranormal Entity remains to be seen, but for a film that employs many camera angles in this same way, it isn’t half bad. I’d rewatch it and probably show it to friends the next time we’re all in detention together. Hey, we could watch it in a double bill with Zowlbies! I’m so excited about pitching this film, you guys. The script’s in its final draft, I swear.
7 jam sandwiches.