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June 9

don't get too attached to these folks...

R

Jon Ray, Trevor Williams, Maggie Blazunas, Alasha Wright, Chad Vincent

Jennifer: Couldn’t we just do stuff that normal teens do…?
Derek: F*** normal teens!
Jennifer: …like smoke pot…and drink.
Derek: You don’t want to be part of the system!

Five high school kids, on their summer break, drive around in their van looking for random things to do, like smash mailboxes or knock on people’s doors and run away.  They videotape all of their exploits, including a trip to a small town called Boston Mills where they continue to cause trouble.  After seeing some strange things and strange people, they continue to go back there in the following days.  Mistake.

This is another Blair Witch Project wannabe, but I have to admit, it got to me.  It made me very uneasy and built a tidal wave of dread throughout.  I think this can be attributed to the fact that the opening scene of the movie is a person sitting in a chair, calmly watching a video tape of an extremely graphic massacre.  The tape is then rewound to the beginning and we first meet the characters:  Robert, Derek, Jennifer, Lisa, and Berty.  We know their fate right from frame one, so you spend the movie just waiting for the inevitable.

One thing you realize pretty quickly is, in some ways, these kids were just asking for something like this to happen.  Derek, the group’s leader, is a jerk.  Funny sometimes, but a jerk nonetheless.  He has no problem annoying people and destroying property.  The other characters are more sympathetic, but they still go along with this behavior and even contribute to it in some cases.  That’s not to say they deserve what happens to them, but…well…be careful who you throw rocks at, people.

The key to movies like this is believability.  Did I believe the characters?  For the most part, yes.  There are some moments that sound too scripted, like the ridiculous exposition-filled scene where we hear all about the legends of Boston Mills, but for the most part the dialogue sounded relatively genuine.  I wouldn’t be surprised if a large amount of it was improvised.  Secondly, did I believe what I was seeing?  Well, the settings are all real places, and there’s no extra atmospheric lighting or anything, but I did have a problem with some of the camera movements.  When somebody is running from danger, they aren’t going to hold a camera up steady so the audience is sure to glimpse something scary in a window.  They were probably trying to avoid the Blair Witch queasy-cam, but they lost some realism because of it.

Yes, as usual, the characters do some stupid things that leave you scratching your head, but then you remember, “oh yeah, they’re bored teenagers.”  When you look at it that way, suddenly it doesn’t seem so unbelievable that they’d sneak into a stranger’s house just to win a $50 bet.

I don’t want to give too much away about the killers in the movie, so I’ll just say, be sure to watch past the first part of the closing credits for some more footage, filmed this time by the killers themselves.  It’s chilling, but not in a violent or scary way.  The reason it’s so unnerving is that it’s so completely normal.  You could pass these people on the street any day and never know.  That is, unless you were to smash their mailbox or throw a rock at them.  Then you might find out.

Don’t mess with the locals.

10 – 1.1 for some camera work that takes away from the realism – .7 for a poorly done scene of unnecessary exposition – 1 for some other instances of dialogue that seemed too written – .1 for an annoying main character – .2 for a bit too much of the violence at the end = 6.9