One more teen angst flick, this time supposedly presented in the “found footage” format, ushered in by The Blair Witch Project (1999). I say “supposedly” because helmer Josh Trank makes little effort to promote this concept, except for occasional references to TV and security cameras, and the fact that protags are constantly filming everything. Editing is tight, perhaps further betraying the fact that there is little story here. The special effects are quite good for this low budget project.
Andrew Detmer (Dane DeHaan) has a pretty crummy life. His mother is dying, his father is an abusive alcoholic who’s always home because of an occupational injury, and he gets picked on at school. His only friend is his cousin Matt Garetty (Alex Russell). Matt persuades Andrew to go with him to a rave, and there they hook up with cool guy Steve (Michael B. Jordan).
The trio discovers a large hole, and climbing inside gets exposed to something odd. Before long they realize that whatever this was, it has given them what first appears to be the power of telekinesis (the ability to move objects with your mind). Within a few days, though, they now have superhuman strength and the ability to fly.
One interesting scene has them playing catch with a football at around 30,000 feet, with Andrew saving Steve from an airliner that suddenly enters their space.
As their powers keep increasing, Matt stresses the need for some rules as to how they would be applied, but Andrew balks, apparently liking his new status as an “Apex Predator.” Not surprisingly, the situation deteriorates, ending up with some death and destruction, and a battle reminiscent of General Zod versus Superman.
***SPOILERS AND OTHER COMMENTS***
One wonders if there were originally a lot more to this pic, before it got edited out. For example, Casey (Ashley Hinshaw) has some screen time as Matt’s girlfriend, but serves little purpose other than to be another person constantly filming, and thus maintaining the ridiculous conceit of a “found footage” movie. Hinshaw is an attractive performer, and the film needed another sympathetic character.
No explanation is given as to why Andrew becomes the strongest of the three guys, and his sudden turn to the dark side is an unexpected and foolish character arc.
There is clearly some footage missing concerned with Steve’s death, even if this void sets up the funeral surprise sequence. I doubt whether this was intended at the outset of the project.
Given the movie’s PG-13 rating, the aftermath of the implied sex scene between Andrew and a party girl seemed to push the limits. Upon reflection, her yelling “You’re disgusting!” to him refers to the fact that he puked all over her. However, at first blush this vomitus could easily have been mistaken for another bodily fluid—as disgusting or even more so. The producers got away with one here.
Telekinesis with kids has been tried before, of course, but has really only succeeded with Carrie (1976).