I often ‘harp on’ about the about the obvious lack of originality in the Found Footage genre due to it’s reliance on dark woods and haunted asylums. Directors of these films seem to locate a plot success then simply jump on the bandwagon.
It’s a shame really because original Found Footage plots seem to make their own way through cult followings. They don’t really need that much promotion as Found Footage fans sort of seek them out!
This brings me to the rather long title of The Video Diary of Madi O Final Entries. Low budget, poor camera work and extremely raw acting talent from New Zealand.
Surely this film had nothing new or worthwhile to offer the Found Footage genre?
I’m not going to lie to you – the first forty minutes or so of this film made me want to pour bleach in my eyes. It’s safe to say I was less than impressed but I knew I had to persevere for reviewing purposes.
The two lead female characters ground on my very soul and I found myself continually huffing an puffing at their rather putrid behaivour.
Then all of a sudden something special happened, something that made me sit up suddenly feel a twinge of interest.
It’s safe to say that first impressions DID NOT last…
The film follows two delinquent teenage girls that are experiencing problems within their family life. For some reason ( which I never really figured out! ) they decide to break into an abandoned villa and start squatting there for a few nights.
The first handful of nights go by without incident but all of a sudden another rather strange squatter turns up and the girls decide to share their illegal abode with him.
The teenagers take a liking to the peculiar ways of this stranger and begin to strike up a rather twisted friendship with him.
But who is this dark stranger and what really goes on behind that stapled, twisted smile…
The cinematography in this film was basically completely overlooked but that seriously worked in it’s favor. The camera work was so bad in places it sort of lent itself to the overall authenticity of the film.
Madi’s trusty camcorder spent more time out of focus than in focus for large periods of the nighttime scenes. This seemed to add a considerable amount of creepy atmosphere and claustrophobic tension to the film’s plot.
It was quite possibly the rawest Found Footage I have come across from a filmmaker’s point of view but it still managed to work on various levels. They seemed to get the mix just right.
The first half of the film was not a pleasant experience due to the hideously annoying female actors. I found their attempt at humor dull and their personalities even duller.
But as the film progressed I realized that the irritation caused by these two teenage idiots was all part of the film’s build. I didn’t care what happened to the main characters and I couldn’t relate to them but I still remained engrossed in the film’s strange plot.
The stark and intimate style of the film manages to work and work well – I’m not sure the plot would have worked with a higher budget thrown at it!
Please don’t go into this film expecting something spectacular – just go into it expecting something very original. It’s just a deceptively quiet and low-key Found Footage film that benefits from an interesting climax.
Don’t be fooled by the first half of this film – a definite thumbs up from me overall!