Twenty years after a deadly freak accident at a high school play, a misguided attempt to re-stage the play and honor the student proves that some things are better left in the past.
I wasn’t sure how to approach this review early on. I was going to do some contrived thing about “what IS Charlie” thing but I decided to drop that. In all honesty the movie was just dreadful and didn’t deserve a full review. Instead here is a list of everything wrong.
Note- I am going into full spoiler mode but in all honesty that doesn’t really matter. Read the generic description at the top and it goes exactly where you think it does in the most boring way possible.
1- So apparently having no likable characters is the thing to do. I realize that having unbeatable douches is a staple of horror but nobody? Everyone in the movie is either unbearable or has so little personality they might as well be rocks. Even worse the most annoying of the group is the cameraman for most of the movie. That means for at least half of the film we follow the adventures of Ryan, jock dick bag that reminds you why you hated high school.
2- Our supernatural killer, Charlie, is absolutely awful. We see him early on and he is a scrawny theater nerd. Automatically any aura or menace is dead. Let’s ignore that though. Beyond that the costume is pretty bad. Dressed like a medieval executioner he looks absolutely silly in his loose blouse and leather mask. He is more a reject from the Ren Faire than a supernatural monster.
3- As it turns out the noose is a pretty godawful weapon. At least for a visual medium like film. With a noose there is only one thing to do, hang people. That’s it. This is especially bad when you consider the fact that found footage movies generally don’t show kills. So basically we have people standing around, a noose magically around their neck and then they are dragged up to lord knows where. I can assure you this gets old fast.
4- This movie isn’t original in the least. I realize that the mockumentary style isn’t exactly known for innovation but this movie hits beat for beat every found footage trope there is. From the camera goes back and forth until a jump scare to the someone cries up close to the “this is totally police footage (that we don’t mention past the first 5 seconds). They even do the crappy twist ending that is fairly obvious. Speaking of which…
5- My god was that ending stupid. So yeah spoiler alert, the bland, innocent Pfeifer is Charlie’s kid and she planned the killings with her mother. Ignoring how obvious this is I can’t help but ask how does nobody know? This implies that Pfeifer’s mom was knocked up in high school. Now unless high school has changed since I was there that kind of stuff gets around. Especially if it’s the kid of the guy that was killed in front of the school. Maybe that’s just too much logic. There is still the fact that this point is just drilled into you. Out of nowhere we cut to police entering Pfeifer’s house for no reason where we see her and her mother acting spooky.
What’s even worse is that they had a perfectly acceptable ending. About three minutes before the twist is pounded into your head we actually get a cooler ending. You see Pfeifer and Reese (our other lead) figure out that they have to recreate the Gallows play since Reese’s father was supposed to be in Charlie’s role in the original play. As Pfeifer does her lines we see the ghost of Charlie executing Reese before Pfeifer takes a bow with Charlie. Given this is far from perfect and the see through ghost looks absolutely awful. That said it’s just subtle enough that it actually works. At least it doesn’t end with a pretty obvious jump scare.
Needless to say this isn’t a good movie. Instead of trying to be original in any way the creative team decided that the movie should be like every other found footage movie from the past decade. I don’t need every movie I see to Let The Right One In but is being better than As Above, So Below too much to ask? I don’t think so.