1. Shockingly brutal and inhumane
2. Monstrous, cruel or evil
Weirdly, this definition sums up my opinion of the people who made this low budget horror film. The lead-up is obvious, the mockumentary camera work leaves you feeling more than a little motion sick and I truly didn’t care about any of the characters. They could have lived, they could have died; it was all non-essential to me. In fact, the only part that tugged at any of the fraying strings of my icy heart was when the family dog took a midnight stroll and mysteriously disappeared… but I’m getting ahead of myself.
We begin by being informed that, on the 4th April 2010, the bodies of the brutally murdered Quintanilla family were discovered by police at a country estate. This discovery was accompanied by a handheld video camera, which contained just 37 hours of recorded evidence. Can you guess where I’m going with this? Yup; the movie is based upon the video evidence found on this camera, which opens on the family arriving at their old farm house in Sitges. Christian and July, the eldest children, decided to go all Clouseau on us and investigate about the Legend of the Girl in the Garraf Woods. They record everything they do. Every single goddamned thing. If you’re thinking this might be a similar concept to, I dunno, Paranormal Activity or The Blair Witch Project, then you’d be mistaken. It’s not similar, it’s bloody identical.
Maybe I’m being unfair. The film may follow a very basic found-footage template, but it does add some new elements; a maze, for starters, which completely disorientates the viewer and increases the tension a smidgeon. In fact, the first scenes of said maze are wonderful to watch, despite the shaky camera work. Christian and July’s excitement and over-active imaginations creates a genuine sense of intrigue and you find yourself being dragged into their escalating childish fears. There’s a very strong sense of the old “we need to solve the mystery” element that makes all kids films enjoyable; think The Goonies or Super 8. Only, you know, with murderous spooks…
The plot takes off like a headless chicken, throwing out as many of the found-footage clichés as possible. For starters, the family dog disappears – does that sound a little bit like Paranormal Activity 2 to anybody else out there? Secondly, we have a creepy urban legend surrounding an old well (erm, The Ring?). The same old well which, oh so unsurprisingly, the children are led to when searching for their beloved pooch. It was easy, they just followed a trail of blood (like in The Terror. Or The Hills Have Eyes. Or Scream…). And, finally, we have a suddenly erratic father, warning the kids not to go out into the woods. Sure, this line is usually adopted by a wise old stranger (and there’s The Blair Witch Project reference we were all waiting for!), but obviously the Atrocious team wanted to mix things up a bit.
Perhaps it’s the translation from Spanish to English, but every single line of the script seems overly-loaded with inane detail: “what have we got here? Sh*t, it’s padlocked!” or “No wonder a girl got lost here in 1940.” Firstly, we can see that it’s padlocked. Secondly, the date really isn’t unnecessary. And, when this sort of tell-not-show technique happens in every single line in the film, things begin to get a little irksome. Too much detail makes the audience feel overwhelmingly patronised, Fernando, and you’ll do well to remember that in your next film.
Good beginning, bags of potential and an atrocious outcome. Probably best not to waste your time with this one, unless you’re the most die-hard found-footage fan out there!