Area 407 Reviews
I'll never understand what IFC Films sees in half the films they help distribute; especially the films that are a part of their IFC Midnight sub-chain, which specializes mostly in horror movies or movies of a darker nature in general. Once in a while, they'll help get a pretty good or even great genre flick out there but that feels like merely once in a blue moon. Most of the time, they're either assisting Tom Six in spreading his cinematic hate-letters (and I don't even mind the "Human Centipede" pictures thus far) or releasing stinking piles of pure dog-shit like "Area 407"; a dull exercise in found footage that the makers and the distributers would probably like to believe is way more artsy and entertaining than it actually is.
As it opens, we're introduced to a pair of sisters heading to their home of sunny LA, one of them an annoying brat who likes to play around with her sister's handheld camcorder. Once they've boarded the plane, the annoying sister starts filming everything and every passenger; including some poor middle-aged bald guy who both sisters believe is an alcoholic (so, yeah, not so nice to laugh at the guy's problems). When they're just about to reach their destination, the plane hits extreme turbulence and crashes in the middle of nowhere; certainly not Los Angeles. We assume that a lot of people die, but a lot of the crew also survives; including one of the flight attendants. Then we hear the combined sounds of human cries for help and animalistic roaring in the distance.
For the longest time, these stupid characters won't stop bickering with one another. It's not too long before we learn that poor middle-aged bald guy is not very "poor" at all, at least not in the sense that I originally thought he might be. His attitude is certainly of no more or less that quality, I can tell you that. The group has to move whilst staying together in order to find shelter; since something is stalking them nearby in the darkness, and that something happens to be some sort of dinosaur (a raptor perhaps). Well, you can't say they've done everything with the found footage genre!
The film offers up as little characterization as possible, and that is where it is most dreadful. We don't care for these people in spite of their dilemma, and even though the first fifteen minutes of the film are decent if not in an empty, soulless sort of way; the whole thing is mostly kind of joyless. I've seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of found footage; and you can guess where this one belongs. The film doesn't even make good use of its villain; instead resorting to techniques that we've seen so many times before and utilized much better. Plus, the dino effects are bad, so...yeah. And the explanation for their presence (the plane crashed in the titular area 407, kind of like Area 51), while not illogical, is even more disappointing.
I find it insulting that just about any old idiot can buy a cheap camera and make a cheap movie. I miss the days of "Cannibal Holocaust" and "The Blair Witch Project" where the found footage was not a gimmick but a style; and an innovative one at that. "Area 407" has zero suspense, zero characterization, and zero entertainment value. It's boring, dumb, and genuinely unimaginative. Who thought it was a good idea to make this thing let alone give it a theatrical release? Why must the filmmakers lacking in all talent get noticed while the ones with actual skill sit in the corner, with their works unreleased? You could literally go to Youtube and find a found footage film or short film (like the "Marble Hornets" webseries) more worthy of attention and praise than this piece of crap. Avoid at all costs, for the taglines lie. "Area 407" is too lame for reality and too disturbingly bad for fiction.
One line summary: The worst in found film; lots of closeups of bloody faces; not much plot.
Trish and Jessie travel by jet from New York to Los Angeles for New Year's Eve. Trish is video recording. Trish's high-pitched elf voice is incredibly irritating. The new year arrives during the flight; this was quite the anticlimax until the heavy weather hits.
The plane crashes in a desert area. Trish and Jessie survive. Jessie takes over filming after Trish is incapacitated.
After seeing this film, not hearing the word 'okay' for about 8 years would be fine. The characters kept repeating 'okay' while examining bleeding, broken limbs, no food, no shelter, missing people, and so on. The anger at the intrusive camera seemed quite understandable. The only use I could see for the camera was as a torch (flashlight). Jessie, who is even less skilled at operating it, took over. Jessie zooms almost continuously, concentrates on bloodied faces, and almost never focuses well.
Something goes bump in the night, kills several survivors, and routs them from the leftover fuselage. Six survivors find a nearby cabin. Eventually a car comes by. The surviving air marshal has a conversation with the driver, who proceeds to drive away. The bump in the night returns and scares them out of the cabin. The ever-useless, petulant Trish holds half of them back.
They find a working two-way radio in the second cabin. The initial 'replies' are indecipherable. They keep trying and eventually contact someone who will try to triangulate their position. The voice tells them to go back to the plane where the bump in the night killed people.
They obey this direction. Will anyone survive?
Cinematography: 0/10 Hand-held nonsense. All the usual failures are there: continuous and unnecessary zooming, bad focus, bad framing, settling on a subject who is doing nothing other than zoning out.
Sound: 5/10 Varies wildly. Trish's high pitched voice rates a good minus four.
Acting: 0/10 The hand-held camera trumps acting.
Screenplay: 2/10 Is there a story here? Way too much time is spent on the camera zooming and re-zooming and focusing on characters who are basically not moving, not talking. So far it is: plane crash, deaths, scramble, hope for rescue, then hopes dashed. Looks like a nice ten minute short.
The actors played very well, the spooky sound covering the whole film evokes the brilliant scary athmosphere and the end is some sort of kafkaesk.
It's not that good as let's say V/H/S or REC - but definitely one of the best horror movies I've seen in the last couple of years.