Tape 407 Movie Review
Directed by Dale Fabrigar, Everette Wallin
Written by Dale Fabrigar, Everette Wallin, Robert Shepyer
2012, 90 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
DVD released on 2 July 2012
Abigail Schrader as Trish
Samantha Lester as Jessie
James Lyons as Jimmy
Melanie Lyons as Laura Hawkins
Brendan Patrick Connor as Charlie
Ken Garcia as Tom
As if their aeroplane falling out of the sky wasn't bad enough, an unfortunate group of crash survivors are pursued by a vicious dinosaur (!) when they land in a secret military installation. Thankfully the passengers are able to record everything with the camcorder brought along by one of the film's annoying teenage passengers. Tape 407 is yet another found footage film, full of the non-stop screaming and shaky camera movement that defines the genre.
What distinguishes Tape 407 from the rest of its ilk (the dinosaur aside) is the fact that its dialogue is all completely ad libbed. This is completely evident in the teenage protagonists' early narration, which consists of such gems as “nice hat” or “that man is bald”. We should be grateful that Walt from LOST didn't have a camcorder with him when flight 815 made its infamous nosedive into the island. The post-crash dialogue is even more inane, however, since there are only so many ways one can say “aaagh, dinosaurs”. I suspect that the grown up actors constantly telling the kids to shut up was less an ad lib and more “no, seriously: shut up.”
Were it the only one of its kind, Tape 407 would be a perfectly acceptable bit of horror cinema. It's tense in places and has an original monster and genuinely intriguing story. But following the glut of found footage movies that have been released since The Blair Witch Project, it feels like a crashing bore. The format works well for these low budget features, but overexposure is truly beginning to take its toll. As ever, the usual questions can't be avoided: why are you still carrying the camera and where do you buy the batteries for that thing? The gimmick of its ad-libs only makes it seem more amateurish. That people scream hysterically and make no sense when terrified isn't a big revelation – that's what scriptwriters are there for – to make humanity's ugly foibles seem more palatable. If I wanted to see obnoxious children yelling like idiots and making banal comments about their fellow travelers, I'd catch a bus. I watch movies for the cool witticisms and one liners, not so as I can listen to idiots tell one another to shut up for an hour and a half.
I have reviewed a lot of found footage horror movies in my time, and have complained about the characters with almost every one. Come back Paranormal Activity's Micah, all is forgiven. Tape 407 features the loudest, most obnoxious pair of protagonists of all time. I hated the cruel bastards of Cannibal Holocaust less, and we all know what they did. The children yell and scream through almost every moment of the film. The other survivors aren't particularly likeable either, but everything seems five times worse with a teenage girl screaming over the top of it. Never work with children or animals, they say. Well in the case of Tape 407, the dinosaur displays positively exemplary behaviour by comparison.
Taking a less-is-more approach to filmmaking, the directors of Tape 407 choose to show us next to nothing of their prehistoric pest. It's never fully visible, and appears in glimpses in about two or three shots. What we see (a toothy snout and a long tail) suggests something like a Velociraptor, but there's no payoff. It's like Jurassic Park, if it was set entirely in the dark and Tim and Lex were actually as annoying as Doctor Grant thought they were. A dinosaur might seem like a goofy choice of monster to some, but I was left genuinely frustrated by the film's choice to never show it fully. If only they had been as sparing with their melodramatics as they are with their monster.
Tape 407 is an annoying, dull addition to a subgenre already stretched to breaking point. This is one found footage horror movie that could have done without being unearthed.
Video, Audio and Special Features:
Video, audio and special features will not be graded as this was a screener.