A film that took years to see the light of day.
21 Days has an interesting development history. The film was completed in 2014, and screened around some areas, but didn’t receive wide release until this year. I am curious about this because the film is a pretty standard Paranormal Activity/Amityville Horror mashup.
So we have another docu-horror film about a haunted house. The opening exposition works as more or less a real documentary that explains the history of this old place. Three filmmakers dare to do the impossible and stay in the home longer than anyone else. If this sounds familiar—it is. Since we already know the story, it is more or less up to the other aspects of the film that will determine whether it is worth seeing or not.
Let’s start with the way the film looks, which is quite awful. Aside from the normal found footage problems we also have additional issues, mainly that the FPS seems off on this film. Instead of the normal frame rate this one looks synthetic. I am guessing this is because they are using cheap cameras, but every movement is quite jarring. The whole movie looks like a soap opera, which compounds the bad acting.
The weird jerky visuals from the cameras make the acting seem quite stilted. I suppose this is also because we basically have exposition bots in place of actual human beings. Further, our three leads don’t seem like they would be friends. Sure, it could be argued that they are coworkers, but this doesn’t seem like a normal work outing. The host, Jacob, is hard to take seriously. His indifferent attitude toward everything just made me indifferent toward the film. Further, his crappy attitude more or less ruins the film. It would have been at least tolerable without him. I might have to celebrate him as the worst actor/character of the year.
The set is fine (because it is an actual house). The film is obviously one that was made on the cheap, but there is a level of care to the crafting of the sets. It is too bad that the plot and characters weren’t given the same level of thought. Plot holes abound, which can sometimes be overlooked, but sometimes not. For instance, they clearly do not have enough supplies for a 21 day locked-in stint.
Okay, watching three obnoxious (well really only Jacob is super annoying) jerks in a clichéd story (complete with Native American stereotypes) doesn’t determine whether or not the film is scary. It isn’t. The best thing about found footage is that there are usually interesting camera tricks to amp up the scares. In this one we end up with cheap and predictable scares. There is never a moment of “how did they do that,” which is really why I enjoy these movies.
The worst part of the film is that they choose to have the characters not believe the evidence when they see it. I think they watched a bunch of better horror movies and randomly selected bits from each one to cram into this. Honestly, even the weaker Paranormal Activity sequels will bring more than this. I just can’t recommend it. If you want to watch an abusive dick be abusive to his girlfriend and friend in a poorly acted and not scary film, have at it. 1/10