Project Almanac: Shaky Cam Meets Time Travel

On this Monday morning with have yet another teenage time travel flick, Project Almanac.

PROJECT ALMANAC

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DIRECTOR: Dean Israelite

STARRING: Jonny Weston, Sofia Black D’Elia, Sam Lerner, Allen Evangelista, Virginia Gardner, Amy Landecker

GENRE: Found footage, Thriller, Science Fiction

YEAR: 2015

COUNTRY: United States

As a group of friends discover plans for a time machine, they build it and use it to fix their problems and personal gain. But as the future falls apart with disasters, and each of them disappear little by little, they must travel back to the past to make sure they never invent the machine or face the destruction of humanity.

project-almanacSo, I was really excited to see Project Almanac, I even actually watched it in the theatre. As these teens irresponsibly mess up the space-time continuum ever more seriously—leading to injury and heartbreak and even death—some realize that time travel is a lot more complex than they thought it was. They try to correct their mistakes and save people by doing more time-hopping, and that’s nice. [Spoiler Warning] What’s better, though, is David eventually coming to understand that it was a mistake to turn the thing on in the first place. He makes the hard but right decision to time travel one more time so he can destroy it. So David ends and begins things with noble motives. Because the whole things started with him wanting to talk with his father again—and, if he can, save him from the car accident that claimed his life.project-almanac-sam-lerner-jonny-weston-ginny-gardner-allen-evangelista

You can pinpoint the moment Project Almanac loses its way, and I have to start spoiling from here on out, so stop reading if you plan to attend despite my two-star rating. The movie’s fork-in-the-road moment is the live concert featured heavily in the trailers – a sequence that feels like it runs for 30 minutes, and a blatant rough patch in what was a swiftly-moving, glossy but passable exercise. It’s during this rowdy excursion that David fails to capitalize on his one moment to consummate a relationship with Jessie (Sofia Black-D’Elia), the hottest member of their Scooby Gang. Saturated in regret, David breaks his own rules to travel back to that moment and live the concert again. His new actions lead to romance, but as anyone who has watched a time-travel movie knows, he alters the timeline.

PROS:

  • Acknowledges complexity of time travel.
  • Uses found footage efficiently.

CONS:

  • Main/supporting cast performances.
  • Uninteresting story.
  • Disguised as typical teen film.

SCORE: 4.5 / 10

If you have any suggestions for films/TV/Games/Music/Anime for me to review, drop me a comment!

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All check out my lengthier video game reviews over at Nerd Bacon Games.

Halloween Horror: The Bay

Hello everybody! Today we have the faux eco-horror film The Bay.

THE BAY

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STARRING: Will Rogers, Kristen Connolly, Kether Donohue, Frank Deal, Stephen Nunken, Christopher Denham, Nansi Aluka

DIRECTOR: Barry Levinson

GENRE: Horror

YEAR: 2012

COUNTRY: United States

This ‘found-footage’ film is set in 2009 in the town of Chesapeake Bay in Maryland where something has infected the water there. But it’s not 100% known what it is or how it is transmitted. But when people start turning up dead and others start to do strange things, fear turns to panic and the town is shut down. The Government confiscate all video footage from every source possible. The Government didn’t want you to see this. This is that footage which is put together by a news reporter who was there.

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The film creates an atmosphere of dread and foreboding that pervades each scene and has you on the lookout. This is heightened by long screams, clearly audible and identifiable as human but offscreen and far away, making you brace for what might be coming up next. What most films would do here is pepper jump scares throughout to make use of the atmosphere as quickly as possible, but The Bay is content to pace itself and build the atmosphere of dread to a fever pitch before allowing it to boil over. The result is highly effective.

That’s not to imply that the film has no jump scares, but it is judicious in its use of them. The filmmakers bide their time for the most opportune moment to strike. In the meantime there are plenty of good old fashioned scary scenes that don’t rely on jumps to get a reaction from the audience. The creatures themselves, some type of isopod that grew at an accelerated rate due to pollutants in the water, are disgusting and sufficiently creepy. Just looking at one is enough to send chills up your spine. This effect is aided by the special effects which are, by and large, quite good. CG appears to have been kept at a minimum, and the blood and gore looks spot on.

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The Bay jumps from chaotic holiday celebrations to scientific expeditions to news reports to hospitals littered with corpses, showing how the crisis quickly grows beyond the point local authorities can handle, or beyond the point where the townspeople can warn others. Some characters appear throughout, while others pop up just long enough to get infected and die gruesomely. However long they last, their self-shot clips are made to fit into the plot, not used as filler.

In content and approach, The Bay is still too familiar, no matter how impressively realized. And again, it could’ve been much scarier. (One of the reason found-footage films are so popular is because even the cruddiest of them are often genuinely frightening.) But without laying on too heavy a hand, Levinson and Wallach do have strong points to make with The Bay, not just about the extremist outcome of environmental neglect, but about how the past decade-plus of “starve the beast” anti-government policies have left the United States unprepared for the inevitable. Now that’s some real horror.

PROS:

  •  Found Footage done right.
  • Lack of filler.
  • Whole cast performance.
  • Gore.

CONS:

  •  Could be scarier.
  • Simple dialogue among civilian characters.

SCORE: 8.0 / 10

If you have any suggestions for films/TV/Games/Music/Anime for me to review, drop me a comment! Remember: Like Media In Review @ https://www.facebook.com/MediaInReview?ref=hl Follow Media in Review @ https://twitter.com/Media_In_Review.

As Above So Below: Is the Philospher’s Stone in the Paris Catacombs?

Hello everybody! On this week’s New Movie Show we take a look at the recently released found footage film As Above So Below.

AS ABOVE SO BELOW

STARRING: Perdita Weeks, Ben Feldman, Edwin Hodge, Francois Civil, Marion Lambert, Ali Marhyar

DIRECTOR: John Erick Dowdle

GENRE: Horror, Found Footage

YEAR: 2014

COUNTRY: United States

Miles of twisting catacombs lie beneath the streets of Paris, the eternal home to countless souls. When a team of explorers ventures into the uncharted maze of bones, they uncover the dark secret that lies within this city of the dead. A journey into madness and terror, As Above, So Below reaches deep into the human psyche to reveal the personal demons that come back to haunt us all.

As Above/So Below borrows and blends claustrophobic underground crawls with inscrutable mysticism, historical-artifact puzzle-solving, and on-the-cusp-of-hell bloodletting. You could say it sends its characters six feet under, both literally and figuratively.

Admittedly, some of that hybridization isn’t as homogenous and one-dimensional as it might immediately sound. The determined Scarlett and her fellow eccentric-academic George make for a compelling pair as they bounce ancient clues off each other while pursuing her archeologist father’s life-passion with Indiana Jones levels of glee and guts. And some of the history-lite dialogue feels like it could have been part of an involving story if only it had been exposed to the bright light of day at least once or twice.

The film that wastes a promising found-footage setting on a laughable execution. Not satisfied with making just one amateurishly shot B-movie, cowriter-director John Erick Dowdle (Quarantine, Devil) has jammed several into 93 minutes. Its like they just decided to combine Blair Witch Project, Indiana Jones, and Insidious.

Another guffaw-inducing bit: Scarlett, who believes in the existence of a stone that can turn lead into gold, dismisses the Frenchman’s warning about an “evil” passage as an “urban legend.” That line highlights the absurdity of combining found-footage horror conventions (someone always dismisses the paranormal) with a plot better suited to Saturday-afternoon serials. Found-footage uses its pseudo-documentary gimmick to depict the terrifying eruption of the unknown into the ordinary. But in a world where brilliant archaeologists believe in Philosopher’s Stones, is anything ordinary?

PROS:

  •  Two main characters performances.
  • Main characters chemistry.
  • Interesting premise.

CONS:

  •  Way too many found footage conventions (most done wrong).
  • Except for main two characters, don’t give a shit about anyone else.
  • Whole film is utterly absurd.

SCORE: 4.5 / 10

If you have any suggestions for films/TV/Games/Music/Anime for me to review, drop me a comment! Remember: Like Media In Review @ https://www.facebook.com/MediaInReview?ref=hl Follow Media in Review @ https://twitter.com/Media_In_Review.