Directed by Georgia Lee

It’s a bit unfair to review Capture based on it debut at Overlook – it was the first test screening. While it’s ostensibly a found footage film, the whole reason for its existence is that it’s supposed to work in conjunction with a mobile phone app.

Yes, you were supposed to take your phone out during a movie (sacrilege!), and it would react to various things happening on screen and supposedly scare you. It’s like a 21st century William Castle film. The only problem is that they didn’t take into consideration how loud the projectors would be at the Overlook Film Fest. Since the tech used is similar to apps like Shazam, it needs to be able to hear the film and react to what’s going on, and it simply wasn’t able to. Only a portion of the phones in the crowd seemed to work, and big moments, such as one where every phone in the audience was supposed to ring at once, failed to land.

You’ll notice I haven’t spoken about the film itself and that’s because there isn’t much to it. Like the worst 3D films, seeing it without the gimmick made it fairly pointless. Capture tells the story of a lady who moves back home to Hong Kong to take care of her sickly grandmother and the whole film is from the POV of her fancy new phone, which she uses to send vlogs to her boyfriend back in the States. There’s something else at play, and soon her camera starts having weird glitches, turning on and recording her at night.

Done well, this is a creepy enough premise, but the scare scenes are amateurish and it’s not frightening in the slightest. I’m sure that if I had a working app that kept making my phone glitch out and show spooky clips, it would have at least been entertaining. However, without a good movie backing it up, it can’t be anything more than a curiosity. If they can get the tech to work better with a decent film, it will be interesting to see what they can do with it. Until then, power off.

/Film Rating: 4 out of 10

Boys in the Trees

Boys in the Trees

Directed by Nicholas Verso

Nostalgia is often dangerous for film fans. It’s what makes returning to our childhood favorites so dangerous. Many times, you either find out that you had terrible taste as a kid, or choose to keep loving it despite its many, many faults. It’s why The Goonies is still so beloved.

Boys in the Trees is the kind of look back that you want, though. Set in Australia in the 1990s and full of songs I never expected to hear again in a film (Rammstein’s Engel? Dinosaur Jr.’s Feel the Pain? Live’s Lightning Crashes? Are you kidding me?), it concerns a group of skater kids at a major turning point in their lives: that last year of high school. Corey (Toby Wallace) seems to have more going on for him than the rest of the dummies he hangs out with, but still feels guilty about leaving behind his friends, as he wants to move to NYC to be a photographer. He just takes pictures of his buddies skateboarding and bullying a local kid, Jonah (Gulliver McGrath), a weak little kid they torment for acting like a “fag.”

The majority of the film takes place over one Halloween night, where Corey and Jonah meet up and hang out, and here the magical realism starts to set in. The two were friends when they were little but Corey started hanging out with a tougher group of cool kids, while Jonah never wanted to give up on his imagination, on dreaming big and living a life full of wonder.

Jonah leads Corey on a trip through his childhood, one where you’re never sure just what’s real. It makes for a delightful movie that’s absolutely soaked through with nostalgia. Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt to live in the past, just for a little bit.

/Film Rating: 8 out of 10


Blood Drive

Created by James Roland

SyFy showed up on the last day of the fest to screen the first two episodes of Blood Drive, a strange mashup of Death Race 2000, Blood Car, and Danger 5. And when I say mashup, I mean ripoff.

Blood Car is the most obvious influence, of course, as the 2007 cult classic has the same basic plot. It’s the future and gas prices have become obscene. But rather than find some other mode of transportation, people have figured a new source of fuel: blood. The engines are glorified grinders and the only way to keep them going is to lubricate them with that red stuff.

We follow a cop who is thrust into a Death Race-style race across the country against his will, and he has to team up with someone immersed in the crazy world of these racers. All the while, his partner is exploring a corporation that’s in charge of this whole thing and contending with dozens of drive-crazy killers.

It’s not a terrible plot and the budget is big enough to make for impressive production values. It’s also cool how the show goes for a different exploitation flick feel each episode (the second is a cannibal horror movie). That all sounds like a recipe for success and it certainly has its moments, but it’s trying way too hard. The wooden, corny dialogue and one-note characters (with names like Rib Bone and Clown Dick) are all groan-worthy, and any bit of fun that can be wringed out of it is often thrown away with some new stupid moment.

It’s a shame, because SyFy has been on a roll with their original shows once again (The Expanse, The Magicians) and could have certainly used a cheesy and ridiculously blood-soaked homage to exploitation films. This just ain’t it.

/Film Rating: 3.5 out of 10

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