Available now from Anchor Bay is this creepy feature film that is based on the Marble Hornets web series. It also features another internet sensation the modern myth of the Slender Man (played by Doug Jones) though the character is not referred to that by name though the course of the film. In fact the character, though never mentioned by name, is referred to as the Operator…
Yet another foray into the realm of found footage films, and we all know how I feel about them, but it seems they are definitely here to stay. But, as far as found footage films go, I actually rather liked this one. There are some nicely crafted moments, relying more on suspense than jump scares, more on character than gore, I was fairly entertained, though wasn’t a big fan of the climax and the finale. Everything else before that is pretty solid, and occasionally downright spooky if you allow yourself to get into the film.
A small town news unit, reporter, Sara (Alexandra Breckenridge), camera man, Milo (Chris Marquette) and new hot-shot producer, Charlie (Jake McDorman) are working on a story that follows what happens to houses, and their contents, after the bank forecloses on them. We follow the trio, all of who have a past, Milo’s and Sara’s are particularly intertwined, as they travel from house to house, until they come to a home that is a modern-day Mary Celeste… it looks like those who lived there just up and left, leaving everything, even food on the table, behind. A hidden box of DV tapes may provide a clue, and Milo is assigned to scour hours of family movies for a hint of what happened to the family.
What Milo finds is a family haunted and pushed to the breaking point by a mysterious, faceless figure in a suit, that appears on the film, but can never be seen with the naked eye, and its mere presence affects not only the film, but also the people around him, pushing them to violent action. And now, he’s beginning to show up in Milo’s life, having marked him as a target. As he shares his discovery with his co-workers, they two are marked, and they find themselves on a race across the country trying to stay one step ahead of the strange figure, in the hopes of finding the missing family and answers before it’s too late!
This ended up being a really fun idea, and executed fairly well with some nicely orchestrated sequences, but they only work if you throw yourself into the story… so ideally, watch this one on the couch, with the lights off, and the curtains drawn so you don’t see any figures standing outside your window. This one isn’t so much about the scare factor as it is about increasing the creep factor, cameras will glitch, and you know he’s there somewhere, and then he’ll appear, and you know something terrible is about to happen, while he watches creepily in the background.
I did find the climax to be a bit of a letdown, and certainly don’t go in to this one looking for an explanation of what causes the Operator to exist, or its goals, because you don’t get them. And honestly, you don’t always need them, sometimes its scarier when you can understand something’s motivation.
I enjoyed both Breckenridge’s and Marquette’s performance, and horror fans will spot a nice little cameo by Phantasm’s own monster, the Tall Man, Angus Scrimm…
But by film’s end I was left wondering, who planted the tapes in the first place?
Check it out, Always Watching is available from Anchor Bay now!