SX_Tape Movie Review
Written by Ted McCarthy
DVD released by Well Go USA
Directed by Bernard Rose
Written by Eric Reese
2013, 82 minutes, Rated R
VOD released on May 16th, 2014 | Blu-ray/DVD released on July 15th, 2014
Caitlyn Folley as Jill
Ian Duncan as Adam
Chris Coy as Bobby
Diana Garcia as Ellie
In my HorrorTalk review of Ti West’s The Sacrament just a few weeks ago, I said that despite the genre’s overabundance of found footage films, the format doesn’t bother me if the films are engaging and well done. SX_Tape is not one of those films. Since the majority of these types of movies involves a person or group setting out to document creepy happenings with disastrous results, I’m always impressed when a filmmaker tries to tackle the subgenre from a new angle. Here the catalyst for ghostly mayhem appears to be, according to the trailer and synopsis, a sex tape, which is a newer, naughtier and increasingly popular kind of video documentation. It’s something we haven’t really seen in a horror film before, so I was intrigued. Would it be like The Ring, where lonely would-be web wankers watched the video online and died? Spoiler: It’s not like that. Much like Joe Swanberg’s 24 Exposures from earlier this year, it drew me in with lurid promises of aberrant sexual horror, and then promptly let me down.
The movie shoots itself in the foot in its opening moments with a poorly edited video of a police interrogation where a detective tells a woman that her boyfriend is dead and her two friends are missing (which, in horror movie language, means dead). So there, barely a minute into the film, and we know seventy-five percent of the characters don’t make it. Knowing the fates of your characters from the start isn’t necessarily a death knell, and can actually fuel interest in the events that lead up to their demises (see The Usual Suspects). That’s not the case here. From that awkward intro we see artist Jill (Caitlyn Foley) being filmed nonstop by her boyfriend Adam (Ian Duncan). Their hypersexual relationship eventually leads them to an abandoned mental hospital/women’s clinic that they want to convert into a moody exhibition hall for Jill’s art show. After Jill is, in no uncertain terms, attacked and possessed by one of the spirits of the hospital’s former patients, they escape the creepy building. As soon as they’re outside, however, in the bright light of day and safe from the evil inside, they turn and go right back in when met by Jill’s BFF Ellie (Diana Garcia) and douchebag Bobby (Chris Coy). From there, it’s a very, VERY cheap knockoff combo of Paranormal Activity (possessed girlfriend) and Grave Encounters (videotaping in an old insane asylum), with familiar running, gasping, screaming, and vanishing/dying.
This movie advertised two things: sex (explicitly stated in the title) and scares. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have much of either. The beginning of the film has a few awkwardly filmed scenes of Jill and Adam starting to get it on, but nothing titillating. There’s never the making of the actual eponymous sex tape. Adam just always, ALWAYS happens to be filming when they start to have sex (there is a difference, if you watch a lot of sex tapes…don’t judge). Then once the characters get lost in the hospital, it’s just an ineffective retread of the aforementioned and far superior haunted house/asylum movies, as well as elements from Session 9 and the House on Haunted Hill remake.
There’s not much sense in addressing the acting, though Foley gets the vast majority of screen time, and I guess is competent enough, splitting her time between moaning and screaming. As the boyfriend, Duncan is only seen in the last shot of the film, and I bet he regrets even that brief appearance. Garcia makes zero impression as Jill’s best friend (so little, in fact, that her character’s name isn’t even listed on the film’s IMDB page), and Coy, who isn’t even credited on the IMDB page, doesn’t do much besides act like a dick and look like a poor man’s Edward Norton.
The film’s bland tagline reads, “Some tapes shouldn’t be made.” Yeah…this is one of them. Seriously, watch an actual sex tape instead (whether it’s Paris, Kim and Ray J, Pam and Tommy, or just your favorite amateurs). I’m certain you’ll get more out of it.