I’ve never seen the ‘Blair Witch Project’, nor do I intend to any time soon, however after watching ‘Diary of The Dead,’ (yes I know) I felt compelled to write something about this new fad in horror movies, namely, ‘faux D.I.Y. film-making’…that is when a film is shot/shown through the ‘eyes’ of a camcorder, complete with shaky camera movements to create a new level of realism, evoking fear and terror.
Taken from the Wikipedia entry on Shaky camera [wow I sound nerdy]
Shaky camera is a cinematographic technique where stable image techniques are dispensed with on purpose. It gives a film sequence an ad-hoc, news, or documentary feel. It suggests unrehearsed filming of reality in a situation where stable image techniques cannot be applied (this situation may or may not really apply). Thus a sense of dynamics is provided at the cost of the traditional objective of showing as “well” as possible the people/objects/action being filmed.
Diary of the Dead is one such film and ranks in my top 5 worst films of the last decade, nestling just above Triple X and just below ‘Punisher’ (feat. John Travolta)….The story was ABYSMAL, but I won’t dwell on that…..lets just say the Zombie genre is truly dead, and is not ‘coming back alive,’ contrary to popular opinion.
Reading this, you may recall the film ‘Cloverfield’ which recently graced the cinema screens….a 20-something drama purportedly shot on a camcorder which suddenly erupts into a ‘monster attack on New York’, not dissimilar to the Jamiroquai video, ‘Deeper Underground’…….minus the funk of Jay Kay, or indeed Godzilla. Watching Cloverfield, you may wonder what model camcorder the main protagonist was using, because it seemed to be powered by a battery pack with seemingly infinite capacity and have the ability to focus as well as the Hubble Space telescope, thus reducing the film’s believability and terror…
I’m not sure why movie makers think this new way of portraying a story will engage audiences better, however as we all well know too often, special fx, even retrograde ones, are no substitute for a poor script.
I have yet to see a shaky camera horror film which accurately replicates the voyeurism, shock and sheer panic conveyed in ‘home-videos’ of real life horrors ranging from 9/11 to the beating of Rodney King……but nor would I want to…those films WERE real. Real enough to make me pause and reflect, mainly because the source material was the world outside my front door, the actors were my fellow citizens and the director was us, the human ego.
On the otherside, one example of shaky camera technique which has ENHANCED fiction, is the UK (and US) version of ‘The Office’, hilarious and far more realistic than its feature length cousins in the horror genre.
‘Camcorder fx’ in horror films has been played out and should be left at home with miniatures and matte composting ….a relic of experimental movie making.
Maybe the reason this sub-genre has been created is the desire to shift us from viewers of movies to ‘actors’ in movies, to put us in the driving seat… a more effective way to deliver horror perhaps?
Why would we ever want to have ringside seats in a horror film….where does this desire stem from? Our our own lives not enriching enough that we seek escapism in the celluloid to such a level that we can live parallel lives, one seemingly mundane and the other viewed through the viewfinder of a miniDV video camera?
I’ll end this rant by adding that I won’t look to reviews of movies as a reliable source of information. Part of the reason I even saw this film was the raving reviews a lot of respected critics (like Empire film magazine) gave this film…..
One way i read reviews is by looking at www.metacritic.com …a website that amalgamates reviews from many different sources to give an overall ‘meta score’….. interestingly enough Diary of the Dead was given a relatively high score for a horror film…
Independent Investigation of Truth has never been more alive……however maybe I shouldn’t be watching these kind of movies when I’m undergoing the spiritual rejuvenation that arises from the Fast.
Lets hope the acuity of my inner eye is increasing so that I can be more discerning with my future film choices…