22 June 2019 | david_rudy_lee
Solid Premise, but Falls Apart
This was a film that I really didn't know anything about, but a trailer did play before one of the movies I saw at my local theater. I then heard on a podcast that this film was coming out this month. I came in pretty blind and to be honest as the trailer doesn't reveal much. I tend to avoid them with fear that it is going to spoil the film for me. The synopsis is a group of teenagers unknowingly summon a paranormal presence during their weekend trip to the Joshua Tree desert.
We kick off with the rhyme that goes with the entity that is in the film. It transitions to Evan (Isaac Jay) who actually fits the description of white skin and green eyes, which I thought was really solid to kick this off. We hear him leaving a voicemail for his brother that he is going to visit, Peyton (Cooper Rowe). Evan has to leave the dorms for the break and we get his relationship with his brother isn't great. Peyton doesn't drink or do drugs, but he definitely loves nature and being one with it.
He arrives at the trailer his brother lives in and scares him by accident. He has headphones on and is meditating. The two decide to go for a hike and end up running into a group of people on vacation. Evan is attracted to Zoe (Ashleigh Morghan) the moment he sees her. She is kind of shy and likes to take pictures. Her friend Camille (Bevin Bru) breaks the ice by asking if Evan and Peyton want to smoke with them. Peyton goes off and is acting odd while Evan tries to integrate into this group of friends.
As it gets dark, Evan is faced with hanging out with this group or going with his brother. Peyton tells him to go with them and to have fun. There is kind of an odd dynamic here as it is 3 couples and Zoe. At a fire while they are telling ghost stories, Evan is up. He is told to go to a website and select one of them. The one he selects isn't scary, but more like an odd rhyme as it's the same from the beginning. The rest of the group goes inside while Evan and Zoe get into the hot tub. They get spooked when they think they see someone watching them from the dark.
From here, people keep thinking they see someone from their group but they will go into another room or outside and see them there. They aren't sure if they are going crazy with all of the drinking and drugs they are doing. Is there an additional person here or are they just partying too much? Evan notices a pattern of circles with items that mostly consist of five.
Now I have to say, I don't mind the concept of this film. I really like that they incorporated modern technology into a film that involves a supernatural entity. The website it is found on is essentially Creepypasta with a different name. It is interesting, because the film could definitely be from almost any era without that and I like that Evan doesn't know any ghost stories so that allows him to introduce this entity. We also get a bit of research as he is trying to figure out if something that is really happening or not.
Something else that I really enjoy about this film is the aspect of the doppelganger. This is really a terrifying concept in that there being a mimic of you out there where your friends might not realize who the real one is. This takes it even farther that they are drinking and doing drugs, so they don't necessarily know what is real and what isn't as their minds are altered. As some who partakes in the drink, I could see something like this happening to my friend's and me for sure.
The lore of the creature is something else that I found to be pretty interesting. I haven't actually looked into it to see if this is something that the film made up or if there is really something like this in urban legends. There is some symmetry to it and I like that everything lines up. Coincidences like this are something that I can sometimes be lower on, but for this I really did enjoy it. What it makes these people to do is something else I enjoyed, but it is something I wish they would have played on a bit more like introduce back-story to make sense as to why they would.
To move next to the pacing of the film, there are some good aspects and some that I had issue with. There's a good set up to this film. I felt it starts pretty creepy when we first see this entity. I don't even mind the couple of abrupt cuts we get from night to day either. My problem is that the film also cuts away from some major things that are happening at the climax and the conclusion of the film. It still builds the necessary tension, even though I did get bored as I wanted a bit more from it. I thought the ending of the film is also good symmetry with the implication.
As for the acting of the film, I think it is pretty solid as well. Jay brings enough awkwardness to his role, which actually makes sense during a reveal about midway through the film. His character does work well with Morghan, who is very similar to him. I like that Evan is an outsider that Zoe is attracted to. Most of her friends accept him, but not everyone. I was a fan of Bru and her quirkiness. Meade is solid as the person who is a jerk of the group while the rest of the cast rounded out the film for what was needed. No one blew me away, but I didn't have any issues with the acting.
Next I'll take a lot at the effects of the film, which I also thought were good. The look of the creature I enjoyed. We don't see it a lot, which I think is a strong move. It looks like it could have been practical with some CGI touch-up. That is probably why I didn't have issue. There are some other effects sprinkled into the film which looked fine. To be honest, there weren't a lot of them overall.
Now with that said, this film has some good aspects for me. I thought the concept of this entity was solid and the story that is presented is good. Not realizing there is an extra person with them is something that is unnerving for me and them not really realizing it due to drinking and drugs is solid. There are some issues with the pacing and cutting out some major aspects of the film. This actually makes it feel disjointed to me. The acting though is solid and the effects that we do get are as well. The soundtrack of the film really didn't stand out to me; the selections did seem to fit for what was needed. Overall I'd say this is a film could have been much better so I have to say that I feel this is slightly above average.