Been a while since I have looked at a low budget found footage film.

Haunting-of-Cellblock-11-2014-Andrew-P.-Jones-movie-3

First off, I think this film might have been written by aliens. People don’t talk this way in real life. The way these people speak is like the writer (alien) said “Humans say fuck, say fuck a lot.” “Humans laugh ha ha ha. Make sure they pronounce each ha.” I guess what I am trying to say is the acting is so bad that this might actually have been created by robots or something. I am being a bit snarky here, but the introduction of this film is jarringly weird.

We have another ghost hunting crew finally meeting their match as they actually go somewhere haunted. You could throw a stick and hit twenty of these in the Amazon prime selection, though I guess the stick would be digital. Also, can you throw something digital? Why would you?

What? Sorry.

My point is there are a lot of these movies around, and they all circle around the lower half of the quality scale. Found footage as a whole has a hard time climbing above its inherent limitations. There have been exceptions, but those seem few and far between. Now, I labelled this as found footage, but it isn’t the entire way through. There is a mix throughout, but I think it is safe to put this one into the category.

So, does this one break the trend? In some ways. It starts off okay. The characters are stilted, but it approaches the theme of ghost hunting a little differently. We have a crew who is struggling to make it, and they refuse to fake it, so they have to take riskier assignments. I suppose this is a realistic problem—I can’t begin to imagine how many amateur ghost hunters there are in reality. For the first time in a while I felt as though the characters has a good reason to do what they were doing in a horror movie.

The thing that is hard to ignore is the weird dialogue. Not only is everything clichéd and one dimensional, it is also really weird. It is hard to describe, the things they say are normal-ish, but there are intense emphasis put on weird words. “They all WAS” sort of thing.

The characters are also kind of jackasses. The two leads are tolerable, but the cameraman Berger, and the psychic are insufferable in their bickering (and no real reason is given). Someday I will unravel the mystery of why horror writers make characters so fucking unlikable they ruin every scene they are in. We spend a third of the movie listening to these folks bicker before we get into the haunted prison.

At about the halfway mark the ghosts start to appear, and a new problem is introduced. The effects here are pretty bad. Horror fans have to put up with lackluster effects, but these are hard to accept. The stuff moving around is fine, it really is the ghosts that look awful. The character reactions to the ghosts are also odd. Sometimes they do okay, other times it is like they forgot to react. Obviously, this is a budget limitation, but it might have been better to keep things invisible.

The film does a better than average job setting things up, but the prison itself becomes more rote than anything else. Further, the acting drops through the floor in the final act as how the characters behave makes no sense at all.

All in all, this one is light on scares, but not an absolute failure. It is just another one of these movies. 3/10

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