Saturday, 31 October 2015



Olatunde Osunsanmi's latest attempt to give the found footage subgenre some credibility has a few terrific moments but overall doesn't add up to very much at all. It didn't work in the ridiculous alien conspiracy movie The Fourth Kind and it doesn't work here. Rather, it reveals yet again how tiresome and empty the camcorder horror bag of tricks is: we've had so many of these reality horrors that they've lost the power to shock or to scare. More damagingly, we just don't believe them any more (assuming we ever did). The Blair Witch Project was fifteen years ago and we're still seeing the same faux reality schtick trotted out again and again.

The best scenes in Evidence (which has nothing to do with Howie Askins' unwatchably terrible found-footage horror film of the same name) aren't to do with the camera and cellphone footage found in the aftermath of an apparent bus crash and a massacre in the Nevada desert, but the scenes of the cops (led by Radha Mitchell and Stephen Moyer) wading through all this glitch-ridden video material in an attempt to piece together what happened, and identify the homicidal maniac who killed most of the bus passengers with some kind of welding torch....

We get footage seen from four different phones and cameras, some of it showing events from different perspectives, and this material comes in a variety of ratios from 4:3 to 16:9 to full 2.35 scope (do regular digital cameras even shoot in that format?), and even pillarboxed mobile phone footage looking like a stamp in the middle of the screen. However, there is a plot twist at the end that comes straight out of nowhere, complete with one of those Saw-style recaps that strings together all the important shots and dialogue intercut with the cops as they finally understand what happened. It's a pity that that final plot twist makes absolutely no sense as it yet again depends on the killer having far great control over events than could possibly be predicted: it's a great "Wow!" moment but it comes about two minutes before a "Hang on a second..." moment.

Nor does it hold water that one of the leads claims she's a documentary film maker when she patently has no more idea of film making than simply pointing the camera vaguely in the direction of stuff and forgetting to press the Stop button. Or that those other cameras would capture precisely the required footage and no more. Still, while the found stuff is typically as annoying as expected, the "proper" film surrounding it is far more watchable, and like Cannibal Holocaust it does provide a fictitious (but more plausible) dramatic context for all the shakycam sequences which wholly "found" films like The Blair Witch Project don't have.

In the end, while chunks of it are a chore to get through and none of the victims are remotely worth rooting for, Evidence isn't very good, and it hasn't persuaded me that there's much value in "found" as a viable film-making technique. It is, however, better than I'd feared and even though it doesn't entirely hang together it is probably an okay watch if you keep your expectations down.


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