I first came across Matt Johnson about a year back when I finally got around to watching his ‘school bully’ Found Footage flick The Dirties. Whilst it wasn’t exactly the best Found Footage movie I had come across it did have more than a few unique qualities.
I actually found out more about Johnson by talking to you guys in the comment section here…and these discussions landed me on the doorstep of Operation Avalanche.
So that’s two of his films ticked off the list now…and both of them offered qualities that are pretty unique to the Found Footage genre.
I’m beginning to like this guy…
In 1967, four undercover CIA agents were sent to NASA posing as a documentary film crew. What they discovered led to one of the biggest conspiracies in American history.
Super 8 and Smiles
If I’m honest with you, after watching the first 15 minutes or so of Operation Avalanche, I had no real idea how Matt Johnson was going to pull it out of the bag.
To me the initial Super 8 footage was pretty cool but the humour injected into the process left me scratching my head a bit. It was funny – sure, but it seemed a little bit out of place.
On top of this – Matt Johnson seemed to have no real idea about how men his age acted back in the 60’s. His dialog often slipped a little bit towards the more modern American and this started to get on my nerves…slightly.
But eventually, this actually turned out to be a master stroke – the humour and the actions/mannerisms of his character actually builds up a familiarity with the audience. By the time the ‘dark side’ of the story kicks in (i.e. the thriller) I was actually caring more about what was going to happen to the group.
I think this was largely down to the slightly slapstick introduction we get to the main characters.
Okay, this was pretty good, and Matt Johnson looks like he’s definitely going to make a name for himself in the Found Footage genre (let’s hope he stays in this niche!).
At one point, near the beginning, I definitely thought the film could swing both ways…but it stayed on track and managed to entertain me to a high level throughout.
Johnson’s created a group of likeable characters that really shouldn’t fit in the film’s era, but they do.
On top of this he’s also managed to keep the cinematography to a pretty impressive level of authenticity – effectively mining the special effects of the film with ease and without any obvious joins.
I still think that the most powerful element of this film is way it’s been split in two halves. There are laugh out loud moments initially but the film very subtly dives down into a tensely filled nail biter of a finale.
These final scenes work and work pretty well. They manage to capture the hopelessness of having a government after your blood…with nowhere to hide.
The Dirties was a straightforward plot that was handled with a considerable amount of style – Operation Avalanche was made up of layers and layers leaving it terribly evocative and effective.
I can imagine that the first twenty minutes or so may well turn a few audience members away from the experience but that would be a BIG mistake on their part.
This is one for all the conspiracy theorists out there who believe that we didn’t go to the moon (I’d throw myself in that with that bunch!).
This was a very good addition to the Found Footage genre – recommended watching.