The Tapes DVD Review
Written by Simon Bland
DVD released by Exile Media Group
Directed by Lee Alliston & Scott Bates
Written by Scott Bates
2011, Region 2(PAL), 80 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
DVD released on 3rd October 2011
Jason Maza as Danny
Arnold Oceng as Nathan
Natasha Sparkes as Gemma
Lee Alliston as The Farmer
So far, the UK has been slow to jump onto the ‘found footage’ movie bandwagon. Despite Spanish chiller [Rec] and its not-so-good follow up, the sub-genre has been mostly dominated by the good ol’ US of A. With The Tapes, Brit filmmaking duo Lee Alliston and Scott Bates throw their two cents, or erm, pence into the ring and come up with a mixed bag of a horror movie.
It’s February 2008 and wannabe filmmaker Nathan has been roped into shooting a Big Brother audition tape for Gemma, girlfriend of his mate Danny. Hungry for fame, Gemma decides to shoot anywhere and everywhere in snow covered Kent to make her show reel as unique as possible. After a run in with a local pub owner, the trio get tipped off that the grumpy landlord is in fact a swinger and quickly smell a better story.
Following the mysterious character to his remote farm, Danny, Nathan and Gemma embark on some investigative video journalism with hopes of making a quick quid by selling their voyeuristic sex tape to bemused locals. However, as day turns to night things take a sinister turn when the trio realise they haven’t discovered a swinger party at all. Instead they’ve stumbled upon a ritualistic cult bent on human sacrifice.
One perk of the hand-held-horror is its ability to create a feeling of edge-of-your-seat unease by doing very little at all. The Tapes relies on this free-dread advantage a little too long. As bemusing as our three tragic heroes are, after following them for forty minutes you’ll be begging for one of them to bite it. And there in lies the problem – The Tapes just takes too long to get interesting and when it finally does, chances are you’ve already guessed the grizzly outcome.
Alliston and Bates’ uniquely British ‘we’re shooting a Big Brother audition’ hook is nice and unique, but unfortunately works against them. Let’s face it, who hasn’t fantasised about butchering a Big Brother contestant? Gemma is someone who wants fame without the work, and unfortunately for audiences someone who’s easily hateable. When things start going pear-shaped, you might not actually care. What’s more, a pseudo-documentary opener is hinted at but never expanded upon, which is a shame; perhaps delving into the aftermath of events is where the real story lies. Here’s hoping the next time a UK filmmaker picks up a hand-held they have a better tale to tell.
Video, Audio and Special Features:
Not graded as this was a screener.