Mock-doc Horror Endures in Atrocious
A Spanish Blair Witch DIY-er with a nutsy pre-emptive title, this trifle scoots and skitters along guilelessly, as if the mock-doc horror trope hasn't already been tourist-trampled to death. Here, a teenage brother-sister pair of Web-show "paranormal investigators" take their equipment with them as their family vacations in a long-shuttered country house, which comes equipped with a huge, overgrown garden maze. Antics ensue, at night, with handheld video cameras close behind. Generally, this microgenre looks easy, but it's booby-trapped with motivational dilemmas—and Barreda Luna's film is full of why-are-they-shooting-this moments, contrivances (once the family dog is butchered, why not call the fuzz?), and shortcuts (dramatic music cues!). It's also a touch repetitive, and there are points at which you fear that the scenes of the camera-mounted siblings running through the weedy maze at night may never end. But the filmmaker is betting the bank on the unstable Blair Witch textures, and damn if subjective footage of implacable darkness, with screams coming from the woods you can barely see, doesn't still make your motor neurons jump, spark, and tingle.
Get the Film Club Newsletter
Stay up to date on the best new movies with our critics' latest reviews, interviews and trailers for the films coming to a theater near you each week.