IMDB: [NR] A pair of mischievous high school kids create the illusion of a haunting on an unsuspecting elderly neighbor while keeping his every reaction under surveillance. A series of coincidences leads to tragedy.
Rating:  💚💚💚💚💚💚💚💚🖤🖤
A down-tempo well done docu-style film brings us a new take in the vein of Rear Window. Two teens, Ethan and Sean, get wrapped up into a project studying humans but push the limits too far. This one went in a surprising direction and overall was much better than I expected. The documentary-style footage was done well composed, though the plot and writing stumbled in a few places. While slower moving it still kept me glued to the screen. Toss in some heavy emotions and we’ve got a winner.
What I Loved:
The teen dialogue writing feels very natural, realistic, and casual. The acting holds the writing up to a great standard. It does a lot with minimal sets and characters. Plus, the homes also feel very real and lived-in.
It starts out on an interesting foot of making our protagonists not all that likeable. I mean, they’re trying to haunt an old man. So who should we be rooting for? The teens? The neighbor? The universe?
Overall though, I have to give it points for surprising me in some ways. While at certain spots I knew what would happen, there were twists along the way that I wasn’t fully expecting. I was extremely pleased with how the documentary-style footage was done. It involved minimal camera-shake. They set up cameras in such a way that it blended well into the main story from the audience perspective and what the teens were observing.
Bonus: A few funny film references – such as mentioning Mac and Me plus posters of Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, Night of the Living Dead, Plan 9 from Outer Space, and of course Reefer Madness. (Almost all have been riffed by MST3K, Rifftrax, or others.)
What I Didn’t Love:
For most movies we suspend some disbelief. But I found myself getting slightly annoyed with the magic of technology in this one. Some of the things done don’t really seem possible – or at least not possible in the way they were presented based on the underlying plot.
Plus there were a few moments with the writing that felt a bit too cliche in their presentation. For a movie that was otherwise interestingly done, those areas seemed a little lazy. At a certain points the tension dissolved because I knew what to expect.
“People see what they’re looking for.”
No Signal – Technology fails at the most inconvenient time for our characters and the most convenient time for the writers.