'Always Watching' is always failing to make sense
Mini-review: 'Always Watching: A Marble Hornets Story'
A TV news station in the horror film "Always Watching: A Marble Hornets Story" uses the call letters WZZC. It would be more accurate to have used Wzzzzzzzzzzzz.
James Moran's low-budget thriller marks the most boring and ponderously paced entry in the "found footage" genre I have seen so far. It brings nothing new to the trend originated by "The Blair Witch Project" and kept on life support by occasionally intriguing additions such as the first "Paranormal Activity" and "Cloverfield."
Here, the cheap and bumpy "V/H/S" plays a major inspiration (as does the YouTube web series that Moran's movie's based on) as three news reporters discover some old home movies of a family that mysteriously vanished from their foreclosed home.
"You never know what you're going to find behind the front door," a bank-appointed custodian says.
Studly news boss Charlie (Jake McDorman) orders staff shooter Milo (Chris Marquette) to sift through hours and hours and hours of torpid home tapes (because TV news crews have that kind of time) until he discovers a mysterious figure lurking in the backgrounds of several scenes.
The figure, called The Operator, is played by Indianapolis native Doug Jones in a spiffy suit, with his head covered by what appears to be industrial-strength pantyhose.
Charlie, Milo and reporter Sara (Alexandra Breckenridge) try to run, but can't hide from The Operator, who statics up the visuals in Milo's omnipresent cameras and even kills the sound sometimes. Significantly, we don't even miss it.
Moran, aided by Ian Shorr's perfunctory screenplay, mistakes meaningless minutia for telling details. Using "live" cameras to tell a story is always a problem for these movies, because they beg the question "who edited this mess?" and some of the camera placements simply defy common sense. (No matter how scared they might be, the characters never drop their cameras and run for their lives.)
Early in "Always Watching," one reporter mentions that their report should emulate the PBS TV series "An American Family." Except that show was infinitely scarier.
"Always Watching: A Marble Hornets Story" opens at the Woodridge Theater. Rated R for violence. 82 minutes. 𘆭