FEBRUARY 27, 2009
While I usually bemoan the idea of casting known actors in “found footage” movies, it uniquely works to Home Movie’s advantage to cast Adrian Pasdar as the patriarch of the family that we spend 80 minutes (with one minor exception, the two parents and two kids are the only people we see in the entire film). Because Pasdar is usually a bad or at least morally gray guy, you will probably spend a lot of the movie wondering (ultimately off-track) when his character will go “dark”, an effect that would probably not work had it been someone unfamiliar in the role.
Of course, double edged swords and all, this means that you have to instantly buy Pasdar as the dorkiest movie dad since Clark Griswold. Not only does he film everything and do voices, but he also seemingly has a costume for every conceivable holiday (when he sits down to Thanksgiving dinner with a priest collar, I actually thought he was dressed as a pilgrim of some sort before I realized that his character was indeed a minister). So you get to see Jim Profit in a pink Easter Bunny suit, which is more unnerving than any of the killer kid stuff (well, almost all). I couldn’t help but wonder how different the experience of watching the film and trying to get ahead of its characters would be had they cast a guy like Daniel Stern or Vince Vaughn in the role.
But, as you can probably guess from the genre tags, the kids are the real antagonists, and unlike The Good Son or Godsend, these kids are fucking terrifying. The Poe family unfortunately seems to own every kind of house pet there is, and they are all offed in order of small (goldfish) to large (the dog). Of course, then they move on to humans, resulting in a surprisingly chilling denouement. Near the end of the movie, there’s a shot of the kids wearing paper bag masks and holding forks in the air which gave me legit chills.
As for what doesn’t work, mostly just the same problems as a lot of found footage movies, principally the betrayal of how “found” this is. Like in [Rec], we somehow watch footage being rewound and fast forwarded, which means we are seeing the camera, not what the camera sees. And there’s also occasional voice over, which suggests that the footage has been edited by a cinematically inclined mind. When Blair Witch came out, they had that whole “someone gave us the footage and we tried to piece it together to explain what happened” angle to explain such instances, but we are not given any sort of reason for it here. Also, the first half hour or so of the movie gets awful repetitive: Dad turns on the camera, acting all goofy and trying to make a nice family moment, and then discovers a dead animal. This process repeats 5 times, and you start to wonder when this guy will just give up and start smacking the kids around.
Another curious blunder is a really nonsensical scene where Pasdar teaches the kids to tie a rope and pick a lock. A. why would a father do this even under normal circumstances, and B. why would he do it when they’ve already displayed several signs of abnormal behavior? It comes at a point in the film where you’re starting to say “Why is he STILL filming this stuff?”, and it nearly breaks the tension and reality of the movie for good. It’s not long after that that the movie really takes off, but still, it teeters dangerously close to ridiculous for a 5-10 minute stretch.
Otherwise it’s a solid entry in the found footage subgenre, and one of the better killer kid movies I’ve seen in a while (I think Joshua would be the only other one of the past 10 years that’s worth a damn). The DVD only has a making of (zzzz) and the trailer, so don’t pay too much for it, but definitely check it out.
What say you?