Skew


Dir: Sevé Schelenz
Star: Robert Scattergood, Amber Lewis, Richard Olak, Taneal Cutting

I usually don't have a lot of time for the "found footage" genre of horror movies; too often, it comes across as a lazy alternative to scriptwriting and proper camerawork. However, this entry works as a decent counter-argument, proving that, done right, there can be more to the genre. Simon (Scattergood) joins his two friends Rich (Olak) and Eva (Lewis) for a long-awaited road-trip to a friend's wedding; Simon is obsessed with recording every aspect of his life, and the journey is no exception. The trip gets off to a bad start, as he leaves after an argument with his girlfriend (Cutting), but then things start to turn weird. Death dogs their footsteps, from the moment they turn a coyote into roadkill, and Simon's camera appears to start malfunctioning, distorting certain peoples' faces when seen through the lens - though the distortion is not visible on playback. Worse is to follow, as those people then start turning up dead. As Simon wrestles for an explanation, his relationship with his friends becomes increasingly strained, not least because of his secret crush on Eva, and the chances of them reaching the destination unscathed seem slim indeed.

Shot back in 2005, the delay probably hasn't worked in its favor, with the genre being largely done to death in the meantime. But it's a good deal more watchable than many entries, with Schelenz wisely restraining the camera work, appreciating you don't need to wave the camera around to make the point. Particularly well-done is the way Simon becomes the character at the centre of the movie, despite being all but unseen; there's even a reason for why he is so obsessed with holding on to the camera [it may or may not hold water, but it's a damn sight more than Cloverfield bothered to give us]. If there was one word you should use to sum this up, it would be "unsettling"; several shots will have the hair on your neck standing up, and it has one genuine "off your seat" scare. If the scenario now bears more than a slight resemblance to a deceased equine, and the ending poses more questions than it answers, this still is comfortably better than most of its type.

[The film was shown as part of the Phoenix Fear Film Festival.]

B-
[May 2011]


Camera-shy
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