Let’s see what is inside.
I remember when this movie came out—I even saw it, but for the life of me I could remember nothing. Turns out that my memory is probably fine, the movie just isn’t very memorable.
Remember when found footage had over-saturated the market? This is one of the films that came out in that wave of overly serious and lazily made horror films. I might be in the minority here, but when a film tries so hard to be “based on a true story” or makes other such notes I lose a lot of interest. I know a lot of folks believe in what happens in horror films as real, but I would prefer a well-crafted story over something manufactured to look real.
It doesn’t help that this film is basically a carbon copy of dozens (maybe even hundreds at this point) of found footage stories that start with a crime or incident in the past and then jump to the present where someone goes to the same place and investigates.
We can wring our hands all we want, but this film made more than 50 times its budget at the box office, so people will go to see something marketed well.
We follow Isabella as she travels to Italy to try to uncover what happened to her mother (who killed three people in the 1980s) and why she seems to have lost her mind. The documentary aspects are probably the most enjoyable. They are competently paced, filmed, and put us in the world quickly.
Where things go downhill is the relatively standard issues with found footage. Even with a meager running time, we end up with a lot of empty scenes of people walking, sitting around, or just doing pedestrian crap that isn’t that interesting. We also have an annoyingly shaky camera. Coupled with excessive cuts, we end up with a bit of a stomach-turning style here.
We get our standard videos of exorcisms with poor quality that end with a jump scare. Oddly, I actually enjoy these aspects of these movies as it is the most horror-ish stuff we get for the first half of the film (usually). We also get our standard science vs. religion stuff, which can be interesting, but it feels too much like retreaded ground.
I think this film, seen at the time it released, would mostly function for audiences. There is a major problem with the film at the end, but we’ll hold on that for now.
The biggest flaw in the film is how familiar it is. While most things are done competently, there isn’t anything here that will surprise audiences. It is a decent genre exercise, but I don’t see it as much more than that.
To be fair, having the mother still alive provides some interesting scenes. It seems like there was more of idea to push this film further outside of the norm, but either budget or time got in the way of the final vision. What we get the end is too familiar and too unscary to really function well.
Where this one completely craps the bed is the ending. Spoilers ahead.
If the film ended with a standard crap cliffhanger ending it would be remembered as just another film trying to jump on the Paranormal Activity bandwagon. However, here they end the film with the story incomplete, and asks viewers visit a website for more information.
What. The. Fuck?
I feel like this sort of media-melding crap could be pulled off by a mega-franchise, but for an independent film that functions (at best) at the boilerplate level it is just insulting. I have stood up for mass-market horror endings before, but this one really does sour the whole film.
The film boasts some of the lowest ratings on critical websites for any horror movie, and when you tally up all the bad it is hard to disagree. I don’t really know why I wasted my time on this one.