In case you don’t follow me on Twitter, in which case you’re CRAZY, you missed a tweet a few days ago about how much I love reading lists about “Horror Movies You Haven’t Seen!”, and I wasn’t being sarcastic. Crazy, right? As many of you will know, I am TERRIBLE at writing lists. Typically, those lists that I’m terrible at are “Top 5” or whatever, but the good part about lists incorporating lesser known horror films is that they aren’t generally ranked. No matter who has written the list or how many entries there are, every single movie on there causes one of two reactions. The first reaction is that I haven’t seen the movie, allowing me to then add it to my queue and the odds of that movie being pretty good are better than all the other random garbage that I add. The other reaction is that I have already seen it, to which I feel like one cool dude for having seen a horror movie that the list writer thinks most people haven’t. I was recommended to watch Home Movie by this list on ShockTillYouDrop, written by Tyler Doupe. Out of the 20 movies listed, I think I had only seen about half of them, so don’t be surprised to see reviews in the coming weeks of some of the other movies on the list! This review is going to be kind of vague because I didn’t know anything about the movie going into it and knowing nothing made the movie more enjoyable for me.
Oh, so the kids are Asian are something? That explains it!
After having recently moved his wife and two kids into a new house in a more rural area, David (Adrian Pasdar) really loves making videos of his family. The first family celebration we see Halloween, and we get to see the whole family in costume. Although there’s nothing initially alarming about anything happening with the family, you do get the sense that maybe the kids are troubled in some way, based on the fact that they rarely speak. Other than that, you mostly see the family hanging out in the backyard, David joking around with his wife, but things take a strange turn around Thanksgiving. In addition to the kids throwing their food on the floor, we also see what they’ve done to one of the family pets, and it isn’t pretty. With their mom being a child psychologist, she tries to take a more scientific approach, but with David being a pastor, he thinks some supernatural forces might be at play. Both parents handle things in their own ways, and as the holidays pass, the kids seem to have returned to normal. They are more talkative, more affectionate towards their parents, and even invite over a classmate that they had attacked when they had been “acting out”. Sadly for their parents, we learn that whatever had been affecting them has come back, whether that be a supernatural force or some other psychological trauma. Whatever the cause of the problem might have been, the parents realize the severity of the problem, but unfortunately for them, they learn of the problem far too late. THAT’S IT! THAT’S ALL I’M GONNA SAY YOU DOPES!
Did I forget to mention that the whole thing is a loose remake of A Christmas Story?
One of the biggest problems with the found footage style of horror films is having to justify why this filmmaking style is being used for this story. There are typically only two reasons for filming, either people were filming their asinine activities for no reason when suddenly weird things start happening, or people have an idea that something weird is going on and the characters set out to prove or disprove the weird things. Both of these approaches have examples where it works or doesn’t work, it’s just kind of amazing how 99% of these films take one of these two approaches. Home Movie falls into the category of arbitrarily filming stuff when weird stuff breaks out, but it works pretty well in this instance because it’s very clear that this is, well, a home movie. Another reason it works is because when people are filming things for arbitrary reasons and weird things start happening, the events generally transpire over the course of a few days or a few weeks, but things felt more authentic by having the footage span six months and not really having any blatantly insane behavior being filmed. Another one of the film’s strengths was casting Adrian Pasdar as the goofy yet charming dad who always kept his hopes high that his kids weren’t inherently evil and were just going through their adolescence. Although I thoroughly support ambiguity in movies, as I like the viewer to be able to have to figure things out for themselves, I think the final shot is what prevented me from liking this movie more. It either should have been a minute shorter, or 30 seconds longer, because it was a little too confusing for me. I’d say the best ending of a found footage movie that gave equal parts resolution and mystery/ambiguity would be The Blair Witch Project. Without giving away that ending, the resolution we got in that final shot was because of information given to us earlier in the film, but the film still left you with a good amount of questions. The last shot/sequence of Home Movie was weird and creepy, but I felt I had missed some important information in regards to the significance of why we were seeing what we were seeing. I’d recommend checking the movie out if it’s available to you, if for no other reason than you being able to explain what it was that I had missed.
Wolfman Moon Scale