Saturday, November 30, 2019

Tales of Found Footage – review

Director: Matthew I. Schmidt

Release date: 2019

Contains spoilers

This is an anthology tale with a reluctant host, Fredrick Michaels (Richard Brogden), who is played as a classical actor not so happy to be hosting three lowbrow horror tales. For a change the anthology is all the work of a single director and, as far as I can tell, the films were made for the vehicle – rather than piecing together previously shot shorts.

All the films are in the found footage genre, hence the name, and I have to say that ghost story #TheChallenge was easily the most effective of the films (at least until the post-story coda, that was unnecessary and hokey). The third story was a tale of Goth girls dabbling with witchcraft, the occult and human sacrifice. That leaves us with middle film – Mail Order Bride.

Ana and Hooch
The film begins with Matt (Matthew I. Schmidt) filming his friend Hooch (Richard Jachner) before he sets out to pick his mail order bride from the airport. Mutual friend Ana (Anastasia Klyuchinskaya) thinks this a really bad idea and is worried about human trafficking as the bride, Nicoletta (Mackenzie Newbury), is from Romania. Who else might be with her, she worries, summoning thoughts of Eastern European organised crime? Matt is utterly dismissive as Hooch has had a long dry spell, romance-wise, and it was his idea. Hooch has been speaking to Nicoletta for several months and is sure she is for real.

Hooch and Matt drive to the airport, Matt continuing to film, and there is a lengthy section of dialogue (including the fact that Nicoletta is unaware of his Hooch nickname and knows him by his given name). When they get to the airport Nicoletta is there but so is another woman, Mihaela (Jeanette Pacifico). Nicoletta introduces her as a friend who speaks no English, Matt is excited – calculating that he may also benefit from Hooch’s adventure. They take the ladies to a bar. There is pool, shots and a selfie and then it’s time to head to Hooch’s home.

Now, of course, the fact that Nicoletta and Mihaela are actually vampires is the twist – but you would wonder what was going on if I featured this on TMtV and didn’t spoil the reason for the inclusion. However, to be fair the twist is broadcast for all too see as soon as we hear that the bride is from Romania – we’d be surprised if that wasn’t the twist. What the film didn’t explain was the desire to travel thousands of miles to hunt an American. Perhaps she was already based in the US and the Romania aspect was a VPN powered honey trap – if so the film doesn’t say.

Unfortunately, therefore, the vampire aspect is a bit of a damp squib at the end, we see it coming and the ‘shock’ is pedestrian and handled quite clumsily (essentially through sound whilst the screen is black, moving to a shot of Nicoletta with fangs). What is handled well, however, is the characterisation of Hooch – through the extensive dialogue we come to find the character rather personable but the ground made there isn’t capitalised on when he's attacked. Is it awful? No, not really, the Hooch aspect keeps it above that level but there isn’t much in the way of shock or horror to write home about either. As always, the score is for the vampire section only – 3 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

On Demand @ Amazon US

On Demand @ Amazon UK

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