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Changing of Ben Moore, The
Donning my petty reviewer's cap, let's dive right in, OK? I've got problems with this found footage movie; problems from the title down. Representing a 'tape' found by a 'nine year old boy', Ben Moore details a young man's journey from one state of being into some state different than before. Inasmuch as there can be spoilers in a movie that pretty much lays it all out in the title, the rest of this review will be a spoiler. If you don't want to read further, understand that this late entry into the Blair Witch/Paranormal Activity sweepstakes is pretty amateurish, and wholly unsatisfying.
As far as the petty complaints go, I don't need to know this dude's name in the title. Let's let the movie tell us that. I'm not a huge fan of "The X of X" titles, either, and haven't been since Metalstorm: The Destruction Of Jared-Syn. If you have to give away that much information in your title, then you don't have much confidence in the material. Would Taxi Driver be as powerful were it titled "The Mental Breakdown Of Travis Bickle"? Or would that title make you want to scratch your eyes out?
Anyway, this 'tape' (who records on tape anymore?) found by a 'nine year old boy' details the process of Ben Moore changing. From the get-go, we're shown that Moore has been getting up in the middle of the night and acting creepy, so we can pretty much assume that Moore isn't changing for the better. The only hope for the movie then, is that Moore has a chance at redemption, and that we don't have to sit through 90 minutes of amateur actors pretending to be partying pals of Moore's, who blithely dismiss the fact that Moore does things like kill cats and dogs, carrying them around in a garbage bag.
As Moore becomes more unhinged, his colleagues' performances become less convincing, and their trusty videotape camera continues to malfunction only at night, periodically going black to increase tension. It doesn't really work as a cinematic device, while serving mostly to point out that Paranormal Activity, the far-superior film Moore most closely resembles, is actually scary. Moore, on the other hand, as a character and a movie, is barely likeable, and scenes of Moore standing silently in the shadows generate little tension, even as he [SPOILER ALERT] seems to be changing into a vicious, human-sized raccoon. Credit where due, the CGI employed to detail Moore's change is pretty nifty, and judiciously used.
In the end, Moore changes, and that's the end of the story. Plot points introduced to add depth, such as the nature of the relationship between Moore and his brother from an adoptive family, are left unexplored, in order to move Moore from point A to B. He was normal, then he changed. Tension and terror are minimal, performances woeful, and the movie is done. Rather than Ben Moore changing, why not change the DVD in your player to something satisfying. Skip It.
Our screener from Chemical Burn Entertainment doesn't necessarily reflect the quality of the final product, and in this case that's a good thing. Presented in a squished 1.85:1 ratio format, the whole affair looks a tiny bit flattened out, which is disconcerting. Otherwise, it seems OK for a shot on 'tape' film. Colors are of the bland, tan, Paranormal Activity tract home variety. Details are average and black levels not terribly deep or detailed. Final product hopefully, at least, isn't squashed.
Audio is likewise of average quality. There isn't much in the way of a soundtrack, but all dialog is relatively clear and clean.
Extras on the screener are limited to other Trailers for Chemical Burn releases.
This ultra-basic riff on the found footage genre resembles Paranormal Activity most closely, in that it takes place almost entirely in a bland, beige, Californian home. Ben Moore is changing; his weird nighttime antics caught on videotape. Arbitrary stylistic tics blamed on the video camera do little to engender any tension, while performances are roundly sub-par. Most damning is the fact that the movie betrays no plot arc other than the fact that Ben Moore is changing (into something not very nice). Thanks, we got that tidbit from the title. Skip It.