Exile Media Group.
day, another ‘found footage’ film – is it me,
or has this been a bumper year for such films? This one originates
from Britain and, somewhat inevitably, turns out to be quite a
The film centres around a bunch of videotapes recovered by the
police at a murder scene, shot by three of the most annoying characters
you’ll ever come across – they make the Blair
Witch trio seem clear-headed and sensible. There’s
Nathan (Arnold Oceng), a would-be media student, his chavvy mate
Dan (Jason Maza) and Gemma (Natasha Sparkes), a dead-eyed harridan
who wants to appear on ‘Big Bruvvah’, and so has enlisted
the pair to shoot a suitably brain-curdling audition tape for
her. Along the way, they hear about swinging parties at a local
farm, and decide that this would be a lark to film. And so for
the next hour, they wander around, argue, whine and generally
do everything they can to test the patience of the viewer, before
finally discovering that the party is somewhat more sinister than
they had expected.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with a horror film setting
up a bunch of revolting people to be picked off by the monster
– it’s something that gives the viewer a certain sense
of satisfaction. But the problem here is not just that - by its
very nature - the film has to keep all three alive until the end,
but also that you suspect that the filmmakers think that these
characters are actually appealing in some way, and that their
incessant prattling and dumbass chatter is somehow entertaining.
This is the only possible reason for having ABSOLUTELY NOTHING
happen for the first hour of the film.
There isn’t a single moment of originality here –
co-director Scott Bates virtually admits in the extras that the
film was made because he saw Paranormal Activity
and decided to copy it. The ‘found footage’ aspect
is entirely Blair Witch Project inspired, the
scary occultist is a pig’s head mask ripped from Saw,
the fuckwit characters lifted from any recent British yoof film
you care to mention. By coincidence, the film does fit with this
year’s British horror theme of slandering occultists (cf:
Kill List, The Devil’s Business),
though The Tapes also manages to throw in a Daily
Mail-approved suggestion that people into BDSM are psycho
cult murderers. Well done.
is the sort of film that has battery counters and REC buttons
on screen to remind you that it’s supposedly shot on a camcorder
– despite no camera I’ve ever used burning that information
onto the tape – and expects you to believe that despite
the farm being clearly identified and the ‘swingers’
faces all captured on tape, the police have been unable to solve
this crime. Perhaps they, like us, have watched the footage and
concluded that the murderers actually did the world a favour.
It pretends to be shot on camcorders, but doesn’t have the
courage of its convictions (or trust of its actors) to actually
do so (as the behind-the-scenes footage shows).
With no script, the dialogue is improvised, and the end results
are every bit as good as that suggests. The best I can say about
the cast is that they seem to fit their parts perfectly, Sparkes
in particular playing a talentless, fame-hungry idiot with remarkable
precision. The film has a great central location, and the luck
of being filmed during a snow-laden winter, and somehow manages
to waste the visual opportunities of both. Shot in six days, it
looks like it was made in two.
The Tapes takes all the worst aspects of British
cinema and grafts them to a piss-poor horror film. It lurches
from disaster to disaster, without having a single moment that
even hints that it could’ve been good. With a final scene
that you suspect is supposed to be emotionally devastating but
instead is hilariously inept, The Tapes is a
breathtakingly awful film.
IT NOW (UK)