From Director Bernard Rose of Candyman fame, and the producers of Insidious and Paranormal Activity, comes SX_Tape, a found footage film about horror, sex and the paranormal. The movie begins ominous, starting out in a police station interrogation room, nothing but a bloodied and cut up woman and a cop whom reveals she was found in an abandoned hospital with nothing but a video tape and that there are three people missing.
Jill (Caitlyn Folley) is a struggling artist with not a whole lot of confidence in her abilities. Her life is quickly going nowhere as she has no job and cannot make ends meet. The one good thing she seems to have is her boyfriend, Adam (Ian Duncan, the synopsis on the Bluray sleeve says the characters name is Ian as well.) Adam is an aspiring filmmaker who also has no job and is quickly going nowhere. Together, the couple have dreams though, while Jill doubts her skills as an artist, Adam believes she has real talent and decides to make a movie chronicling her life as a struggling artist. While it starts off as a career move for her art, Adam jokes that they should film their sex lives together, become amateur pornographers, which is something Adam is convinced will make her famous overnight. Though initially hesitant, she decides to be the adventurous type, accepts and then they begin filming themselves having sex in various public places, including up against a window, in a parking lot, in a clothing store, and an insane asylum... quite a bit of outgoing sex for a woman who flat out refused a standard sex tape for 15 minutes isn't it?
The first third of the movie follows this formula, it's pretty much Jill and Adam finding a location, talking about their relationship, have sex, find a new spot. Repeat cycle. As the day is winding down, they find their final location. As a surprise to Jill, Adam has found her a location for an art gallery, an old broken down hospital that has been long shut down, rumored to be used to give women abortions. This prompts the two into exploring the hospital. While exploring the broken down ruins, a prank goes wrong when Adam decides to strap Jill down to a gurney during one of their sex adventure and leave, which proves to be a very bad mistake. While gone, a ghost attacks and possess Jill, whom shows no outward signs of said possession.
The couple soon leave, but are quickly forced back in by the arrival of their friends, Ellie (Diana Garcia) and her boyfriend, Bobby (Chris Coy), whom is looking to hook up with Jill. What started out as a fun tour quickly turns into a struggle for their lives as the four friends are trapped with a vengeful ghost hell bent on torturing the group, while Jill becomes more violent by the minute. They all must find a way out of their hell before falling victim to the various supernatural forces.
Obviously I've not seen every found footage film ever made, but before anyone decides to spend their money on this film. Please heed my warning. It's outright terrible, The writing atrocious, and the characters absurd. These characters make dumb choices every step of the way and it's frustrating as hell to find any reason to root for them. The lead character, whom for the first 45 minutes of the film expresses how much she loves Adam, yet around the hallway point, that relationship which has built up goes out the window. She sleeps with another guy, tries to make him jealous, pushes him around, calls Adam every name in the book for not wanting to stay (although 10 minutes earlier when there was a loud noise, she's begging to leave), and so on. The constant (and I mean it when I say costant) radical character changes are ridiculous.
Then we have the writing... I will give you a sample of this genius writing with as little spoilers as possible... we have Jill becoming more and more insane as the time passes, she begins smashing her own face into the mirror, becoming a bloodied and tore up mess. Another character stands there watching this (and has witnessed her other mental breakdowns as well) as she pulls herself together, still covered in blood I might add, as she jumps up and down exclaiming "Please let me suck your d**k" over and over. He proceeds to stand there watching her pull a gun and shoot him (after she waves it around.) Let's not forget the fact that Adam and Jill DO get out of the asylum after many close calls and being rattled to the bone, yet for no reason at all, once their friends arrive, they decide to go back inside. This is some of the most asinine writing I've witnessed.
- The performances were actually decent. No performer was really a weak link, but at the same time none were exceptional. They worked well with the material given.
+ Not scary, but it does build up some tension, I guess.
- Contender for the worst found footage film made.
- The characters are painfully dumb.
- Terribly written dialogue. I've heard worse in B horror movies, but those films were trying to be fun. SX_Tape is trying to be serious outside of the final 10 seconds.
- *Spoilers*... So how did she get off if the cops had the tape that showed her commit murder?
- Radical character changes for no reason.
- There is only one ghost, and it's just kind of... there. It does next to nothing and amasses probably 30 seconds of total screen time.
- Too much of nothing happening.
Video and Audio:
The Blu-ray was fine throughout although the film doesn't really present many opportunities for the image to really pop, considering that 80% of the film takes place in darkened corridors. The dark colors were strong and bold, and when the movie did show off it's bright palette, it was extremely vivid and looked fantastic.
The audio format is presented in a DTS HD Master Audio, which was fine. There was no soundtrack to accompany the film, but the dialogue for the most part was crystal clear, although there were some parts of the film where Adam's (whom is always off camera) dialogue can barely be heard. That's the only area in the film I had any problems with.
- Making of SX_Tape. A fifteen minute behind the scenes feature with the cast and crew discussing the characters, the feel of the film, and the development of these characters.
SX_Tape is a waste of time. You root for all of these characters to bite it, as they're all one note, dumb and quite hateful. This was one of those B Horror films I really wanted to like going into it, the synopsis was interesting, however was pretty misleading considering that there are almost no horror elements until the final minutes. Instead the majority of the film focuses on the relationship of an overly sexed up bitchy woman and a camera. The film is full of clichés, terrible writing, dialogue, characters and wastes any chance it has to create any real suspense. I expect more from Bernard Rose. Skip it.