Friday, August 24, 2012

[Review] Evidence

Found Footage filmmaking started off with a bang with 1999's The Blair Witch Project and remains a strong form of storytelling even now, thirteen years later. The cinéma vérité approach is a very effective way to deliver the scares, while doing it with miniscule budgets and bringing in big profits. What was supposed to be an easy form of filmmaking ended up proving to be quite the opposite, when you consider how many of these films fall so horribly flat. Evidence is one such film.

The story starts off with two couples traveling out to a secluded, wooded area for some good old fashioned camping, while one of them films the whole thing for the purpose of making a documentary. Their plans get interrupted, however, after they begin to hear odd noises all around them and suspect there might be something dangerous out there in the woods with them.

In order for this particular style of filmmaking to succeed, it absolutely requires believable situations, believable acting and likable characters. Evidence has none of these. My main gripe was with Ryan, the character filming everything for his documentary. He was so incredibly obnoxious beyond belief. At one point, we're given a bit of interesting info about Ryan that seemed as if it was going to explain his behavior and develop into an important part of the story. But then it just gets forgotten as quickly as it was introduced, and I realized, quick frankly, he was just a major douche.

After hearing those weird noises from the woods around them, the group almost immediately loses their cool and quickly resorts to childish bickering and name-calling. Bickering seems to be a staple of Found Footage films, doesn't it? And that's all it appears to be here—a staple. The angry interactions are annoying, seem very forced and out of place and is probably the point where everything starts to go downhill.

While Evidence may have started off as just another Blair Witch clone, it completely switches gear for the second half and becomes an altogether different film; a very crazy, incoherent mess of a film. I suppose I have to give them credit for trying to mix it up a bit and I have to admit that I had no idea where the story was headed. It was enough to keep me vaguely interested. But then the film ends, and I realized nothing was explained and nothing was developed from it. All that craziness was just sort of...there, among lots of gun firing, jumpy film, flickering lights and screaming girls.

The filmmakers behind Evidence were so obviously concerned with making it seem real that they actually ended up going overboard and accomplished just the opposite. I understand why they decided to make the camera light flicker and the film look damaged and jumpy—but when it happens pretty much nonstop for half of the film's running time, the only affect it will have on the audience is making them want to punch themselves in the face. I can't begin to tell you how irritating it was. It was especially a bad move to have the characters always acknowledging the camera and coming up with lame excuses for why they're continuing to film during such a crisis. That really ruined the believability more than anything, ironically.

I don't even understand why Ryan brought this camera in the first place. I mean, come on now—a documentary about your friends sitting around a fire getting drunk and sleeping in tents? Really, dude? Poor guy clearly doesn't have any artistic merit and definitely doesn't understand what the public is interested in watching, which I guess makes perfect sense considering the actor playing Ryan was also the film's writer.



AFare24Get said...

I think this style really began with movie like Cannibal Holocaust & other items with (faux) interviews by Jacopetti & Prosperi and their "Mondo" flicks, but you're right, it's a viable way of telling, introducing or concluding a story (Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003).

I'm gonna look for this one just to give it my own thumbs up-down but I appreciate your criticism and insights of the movie.

Mikey Sarago said...

Thanks for the comment! You're right, of course, about Cannibal Holocaust. However, I think the style didn't really take off until the success of Blair Witch. Similar to how Halloween started the slasher craze, although it obviously wasn't the first of its kind.