Tuesday, July 14, 2015

In short: Always Watching: A Marble Hornets Story (2015)

This tale of a trio of local TV news people (Alexandra Breckenridge, Chris Marquette and Jake McDorman) drawing the rather unwanted attention of a mysterious suit-wearing entity (Doug Jones) that will draw them into a nightmare is vaguely based on the mythology of Marble Hornets, a web series that quickly turned from a bit of slender man horror into something more individual. The creative connections are pretty loose, though – neither director James Moran nor writer Ian Shorr seem to be involved in the web series, and there are a nods in the direction of the series instead of an attempt to truly interconnect the two.

I’m not quite sure why that is, really, for I suspect Marble Hornets fans (which I’m not really, though I have seen about half of the series) will be disappointed by the looseness of the connection while audience members not clued in will probably be puzzled by the whole Marble Hornets thing.

Looked at independently, Always Watching is a competent bit of POV horror with somewhat more interesting characterization than usual in the sub-genre but also made out of a lot of the same beats and tropes most films of the sub-genre are made of. Moran’s perfectly capable of making a threatening little suspense scene now and then, but never manages to really do something with a central monster that is basically an infectious meme you can only see – and be seen back by it, the film suggests – through the lens of some kind of camera. This central idea isn’t just inherently creepy but could also be meta as hell, with the audience watching recorded scenes of characters watching recorded scenes, yet the film never does anything with this. Nor does it use the obvious possibilities for some kind of social commentary inherent in the omnipresence of cameras and the idea of a thing acting through them, as if the film went out of its way to only be a competent POV horror film like dozens of others, even when the opportunities for more are so obvious.

No comments: