The Levenger Tapes DVD Review
Written by Giuseppe Infante
DVD released by Lionsgate
Written and directed by Mark Edwin Robinson
2016, 92 minutes, Rated R
DVD released on July 5th, 2016
Johanna Braddy as Amanda
Lili Mirojnick as Kim
Morgan Krantz as Chase
Chris Mulkey as Stackman
John Rosenfeld as Rooney
Camden Singer as Finch
The found footage genre has been overdone; but that doesn’t mean one cannot create a cinematic masterpiece with this kind of design. Unfortunately, The Levenger Tapes fails in producing said work of art, although it does not sink in the mud like many of the others in the subgenre do.
Detectives in a small town discover some disturbing tapes in tandem with three missing college students and a young girl. As the police watch the footage with scrutiny, the case slowly unravels about the trio and their exploitive trip through a mountain vacation home and the vast wilderness. Linked to the case of the missing girl, the tapes become unsettling when the teens find a bloody dress in the forest and their getaway vacation becomes awry.
Writer/director Mark Edwin Robinson builds an atmosphere of suspense and panic, inducing eyes to shift away from the screen while anticipating a jump scare. One of the smart moves Robinson makes is not using the cheesy tactic and continuing with the story. The shock comes at the right moments, although this feeling alone cannot salvage a film, including The Levenger Tapes.
The pacing at times is slow, dreadful and anticipatory, which adds to the anxiety fabricated through the three main characters, Amanda (Johanna Braddy), Kim (Lili Mirojnick) and Chase (Morgan Krantz). This is bittersweet—it all depends where you stand on the slow-burn scale. There could’ve been more fleshing out of the conflict and characters stirring from the past, which arises throughout the movie. There are several scenes where all three main characters scuttle and scamper about the forest and the camera bounces between them. This is all too familiar and leaves a nauseating trail. Where are the up-close tear drops? But seriously, the cast’s performance is a major crutch next to plot-holes, VHS tapes and question marks.
The ultimate question: why is this account on a VHS tape? This is not the first film post-V/H/S to use video cassettes as a standard for narrative and not explain the significance of its use. It is 2016, and unless the footage needs to be on a VHS, there needs to be another medium. Couldn’t they have just popped the SD card into a computer? Maybe I missed the reasoning behind why the footage is on a video cassette tape and not digital footage on a hard drive, but regardless this is a poor choice. Maybe if the setting of The Levenger Tapes was pre-cell phones and other communicative devices, the recording choice would work well.
A major problem with The Levenger Tapes is after the credits roll and one takes it all in, the payoff isn’t profound and viewers will walk away gaining nothing more than a quick 92 minutes of fear, mystery, chaos and questions that are in the end forgettable. I’ll never watch this movie again, unlike Rec or V/H/S. The direction takes a few awkward turns, but the stunning scenery adds to the dreary tone and suspense. This statement describes the intertwined emotions; the mixed combination of quality (beautiful looking) and quantity (plot/storylines) overlap. These positives are not strong enough to overlook the negatives, but I can say the movie isn’t terrible. After viewing The Levenger Tapes, I’d recommend it to fans of found footage and folks interested in a head-scratching good time.
Video and Audio:
The Levenger Tapes is presented in 1.78:1 and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. The DVD’s picture looked Blu-ray quality through my PS4. The audio is crisp and background sounds do not overpower the dialogue, although there are several scenes of silence.
There are several trailers from Lionsgate and a digital download.