OK, I'm gonna be pretty blunt here. The only thing anyone really cares about when it comes to these found footage films is the ending. Go out there and find someone who doesn't like Paranormal Activity or The Blair Witch Project or The Last Exorcism, and dollars-to-donuts they'll probably mention the ending. Last night, when I kickstarted a copy of Area 407, I joked that I was watching another found footage film because I didn't know how this one ended abruptly. (OK, I was only half joking.)
You guys know I'd never go Mr. Spoilerman on you - I'm not about to throw any kind of plot details at you - but I'm gonna start out this review by talking about the ending. Not the ending itself, but my reaction to the ending.
Basically, here's what happened: I'm sitting here, watching Area 407, having a good enough time with its standard found footage cliches, when the ending happens. As soon as the sudden final reveal happened, I screamed out a profane exclamation...and I kind of started doing one of those wimpy "get away from me slap fits" that people do when they're kind of scared but mostly excited. You know, like when a cute girl gets you in a tickle fight when you're in grade school and you "fight" back in a manner that wouldn't harm a pillowcase. I'm not proud of my response to this ending, but it was so unexpected and unlikely that I was basically giddy about how silly it was. I think maybe that should be an insult, but I was honestly kind of thrilled by the utter ridiculousness of this ending. Like, the fact that this movie dared to go where it went was so welcome to me that I've been randomly laughing about it - and my extremely ridiculous reaction to it - off and on throughout the last 24 hours.
Let's back up a minute, before my silly smirk about this ending overtakes my mind entirely and sends this review into a massive derailment. The plot! Ah yes, the plot....
Area 407, from directors Dale Fabrigar & Everette Wallin (Why do these movies always need two directors? They already make the actors hold the camera!), follows a few folks with awful bad luck as they're involved in both a plane crash and a good old fashioned night stalking. Thanks to two vociferous teenage girls, there happens to be a camera on the plane/crash site, which means the night of tension and drama is documented for our viewing pleasure.
To be perfectly honest, there's not a lot of original stuff going on for Area 407. It's got a few well drawn characters - the angry fella played by Brendan Patrick Conner stands out - and plenty more that are boring and standard. The fact that the film is controlled, at least in storyline, by two young girls who aren't old enough to drive will certainly grate on some viewers, but I was less annoyed by them than the other dull survivors. There's adequate amounts of shouting and everyone is covered in blood and shadows and darkness are used as well as they are in other found footage films, but none of it's really unique.
And yet, I found myself having a lot of fun as I soaked up what was going on on screen. The formula has usually worked for me, and I was very receptive to another go with them as Area 407 went on. It didn't do anything with incredible flair, but it never felt inept either. I shouted at the screen a little bit, trying to figure out just what the creatures that were chasing the plane crash survivors were, and primarily found myself interested in finding out what would happen next.
Area 407, to me, played like found footage comfort food. It's got more faults than it probably should, but it gave me the thrills I needed, all the way up to that ridiculously enjoyable - or maybe just ridiculous - ending. This isn't a best of the year candidate by any means, but I'll gladly watch it again. If you're not looking for something earth shattering - and if you're prepared for an ending to a horror movie that will showcase things you loved in second grade - you might find yourself enjoying Area 407 like I did.
If you're interested in the film, you can check it out via IFC Midnight On Demand services, and other digital outlets like ITunes & Amazon. There are worse things you could do.
(PS - Don't look up the trailer, there's spoilers in there!)
The Mike began his youth by demanding ghost and monster stories, and was soon given three VHS tapes by his parents - The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Lon Chaney's The Phantom of the Opera, and 1958's The Blob.
Since then, he has embraced the wide world of cinema, and has always kept the bizarre, fantastic, and macabre close to his heart.