The Dark Tapes Movie Review
Written by Greg Fisher
Released by Epic Pictures
Directed by Vincent J. Guastini and Michael McQuown
Written by Michael McQuown
2017, 98 minutes, Rated R
Released on April 18th, 2017
Brittany Underwood as Amanda
David Hull as Josh
Cortney Palm as Nicole
Emilia Ares Zoryan as Caitlin
Anna Rose Moore as Sindy
Shawn Lockie as Karen
David Rountree as Martin
Found footage has become a double-edged sword in the horror genre. The concept has enabled first-time directors a chance to make their name in the industry. This has also allowed directors with little to no talent and casts of the same ilk to glut the market. For every Devil's Pass and Paranormal Activity, streaming services are slogged with movies made by and featuring people who couldn't hack it in community theater and scripts so poorly written that they negate Darwinism. Watching a movie such as The Dark Tapes makes it easier for viewers to sit through the other dreck.
First time directors Vincent Guastini and Michael McQuown work off McQuown's script, which features three vignette stories loosely encased within a wraparound. Guastini, who works mainly in special effects and created the creature costumes for the movie, directs the wraparound, called "To Catch a Demon". The story starts with a man and a woman finding a camcorder, which leads them into a building where the find a trashed room with blood spattered around. Cut to the footage from the camera, where physicist Martin, his assistant Nicole, and cameraman Jason attempt to prove that night terrors occur because, at the time they happen, a person is able to see transdimensional beings due to their brain state. They attempt to prove this with the help of a special slow motion camera.
Next comes "The Hunters and the Hunted", which brings a new take on the haunted house found-footage flick. David and Karen, who recently lost their daughter, move to a new home. Of course, paranormal knockings, sounds, and occurrences terrify them to the point where they call in paranormal investigators. Things take a quick turn once the house is under investigation, making this perhaps the best vignette of the four.
"Cam Girls", the weakest entry of the lot, follows. Little needs to be said about this other than it is filmed as two Skype screens as two cam girls talk with one of their viewers, and things aren't as they seem.
This leads to the final entry, "Amanda's Revenge". Amanda confides to her friend that she knows that aliens are abducting her at night. She has tried to capture them on film, but they use something to disable all the technology in her house when they arrive. She decides to rig up some analogue cameras and see what she can find out.
Overall, I applaud the work done with this film. McQuown has done a fine job with the script, crafting believable plot elements, action, and dialogue. It is better written and more believable than most movies I've seen in the genre. The acting is solid as well, feeding off of the script. While there are no bad performances in the bunch, there are also no standouts, which still lets the viewer enjoy the ride without focusing on any one thing in particular. The best takeaway from the film is the use of practical effects for a base, only using digital effects to augment the scene. The costumes for the demon and the alien in the movie are very creepy and also fun, and create a better atmosphere than any CGI entity would have a hope of doing.
Should the filmmakers use this experience to refine their next endeavor, they have a great chance to make something memorable and interesting in the future. As it is, they've done a fine job of this so far.