Wednesday, 17 February 2016


mockingbird is a found footage film with a high concept premise. three people receive a box with a video camera inside. the camera is already recording and they can't switch it off. later, they receive a message that states keep filming or die. they are given clues to follow, and over the course of one evening they are manipulated by an unseen presence until all the characters finally cross paths with devastating consequences.

mockingbird is directed by bryan bertino who also directed the strangers. i really liked the strangers. i know it's a film that divided audiences, as i imagine this one does, but for me the idea that the home invaders weren't motivated by anything and possibly didn't really exist was really fascinating. it was an old fashioned horror film told with an art film aesthetic and i love anything that pushes the boundaries of the horror genre like that. mockingbird does exactly the same thing.

the closest comparisons to mockingbird are probably the saw films. here there's the same idea of a riddle with fatal consequences and questions around the motivation of the antagonist - are they trying to prove a point and how are the victims connected? at the same time, there is an atmosphere and a style to this film that makes it an innovative if difficult watch. bertino never breaks from the format, keeping us at arms length throughout the film with the only suggestion of someone driving the narrative coming from the title cards that divide each chapter. it's a hard film to enjoy because it never feels like characters are getting anywhere; the film is lead by the antagonist and at a certain point it feels like the characters as well as the audience simply have to wait to see what is in store for them. while unconventional, this lack of character arc or development is intentional and does succeed in putting the audience in exactly the same position as the characters. for me it works, but i can see how others may find it frustrating.

from a technical standpoint, mockingbird is one of the most accomplished found footage films i've seen. bertino does something really clever with music, in that the only music we hear is being played in the actual scenes themselves. at one point he cuts between three cameras in one location and the music jumps, showing that we're still listening to the music in the room, not on a soundtrack. it's a small detail, but it reinforces to bertino's conviction to the format and adds to the atmosphere.

of the films i've watched so far, mockingbird is the most challenging but also the most interesting. i really liked bertino's take on the format, and it shows that with a little thought and conviction there are endless possibilities for the found footage horror film.

the found footage blogathon will run throughout february in which time i plan to review as many films as possible and maybe throw in a few extras as well. if you'd like to be involved and post your own content, send me a link via twitter with the tag #foundfootageblogathon. i'll retweet your link and will include it in a summary post at the end of the month. you can find a full list of the films i'll be reviewing here.

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