Combining “Big Brother” with The Blair Witch Project, Welsh filmmaker Marc Evans (“Resurrection Man”) comes up with far superior horror movie that could really catch on if a distributor would just put some faith in it. It’s about five young people (Sean Cw Johnson, Laura Regan, Kris Lemche, Jennifer Sky and Stephen O’Reilly) who respond to an internet advert and join a “Big Brother”-like webcast, locking themselves into an isolated and scary old house that’s full of cameras and microphones. In order to win $1 million, they all must stay for the full six months. But near the end of the time period, things start getting very strange, with creepy messages from the outside, sinister “care” packages and even a suspicious stranger (Bradley Cooper) who shows up at the door.
Shooting on digital video and making full use of the premise and Nova Scotia setting, Evans cranks up the tension from the beginning with invasive camera angles, atonal music and the incessant soft whirring of the camera motors. He also plays with image quality, lighting, sound and even night vision photography, which makes the actors look like demons with green-glowing eyes! And amid the black humor and grisly surprises, there are echos of other horror films–a glimpse of an axe here, a bullet there, a shower curtain, urban legends, ghost stories. The fresh-faced cast is terrific, almost too authentic as characters that never become stereotypes. They are everyday people, self-absorbed and self-righteous and pushed into very nasty corners.
The whole thing has an improvised feel to it that makes it hard to suspend our belief; it really is like we’re voyeurs watching what we should not be seeing. On the other hand, the film has a disturbingly misogynistic streak, as only the women ever appear naked or helpless. And to be honest, there’s not much to the film, really. It’s a lot of style over very little substance. But there are just enough twists in the tale to make it far more satisfying than almost any horror film in recent memory.