DVD Review: Tape 407

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DVD Review: Tape 407 (18) / Director: Dale Fabriger, Everette Wallin / Screenplay: Robert Shepyer / Starring: Abigail Schrader, Samantha Lester, James Lyons, Melanie Lyons / Release Date: May 21st

Look, in theory - and even now, when the novelty’s not just worn off it’s become almost undetectable - I’ve got no real objection to the ‘found footage’ genre. Hollywood still loves it, of course, because it offers the chance of a filthy profit for a tiny outlay. And when the results are as good as, for example, Chronicle, we can all agree that maybe there’s life in the old dog yet. But when something as rank as Tape 407 crawls out of the woodwork, it seems that not only is the old dog dead it’s in an advanced state of decomposition.

Tape 407 is a real stinker. Even by found-footage standards this one looks cheap and exceedingly nasty - and not in a good way. In case you’re interested - and to hopefully deter you if you’re tempted - a passenger plane hits turbulence mid-flight and eventually comes down in a remote and apparently-deserted wilderness which is, in fact, a Top Secret Government testing area. Gasp! Before long the bloody (and bloody irritating) crash survivors are blundering about in the dark, their every movement recorded by shaky wobbly-cam as they’re hunted by some monstrous, barely-glimpsed predator.

Tape 407 really has very little going for it apart from its mercifully-brief running time. ‘Found footage’ stuff can be a tough sell because, all too often, it’s hard to imagine how someone in such an extreme situation would remain fixated on recording everything going on around them when, in reality, they should be in a state of extreme and abject terror and running for their lives. Tape 407’s cause isn’t helped by its footage being recorded by pre-teen brat Trish (Schrader) whose shrill, high-pitched whiney voice is only marginally less annoying than very sharp fingernails being scraped repeatedly up and down a blackboard. I guarantee by the end of the first scene in the movie, where Trish gets on everyone’s thrupennies by waving her camera around in the confined cabin of the aircraft aboard which she and her sister Jessie (Lester) are travelling back to LA from New York you will want to wrench the camera from her hands and shove it where footage has never before been found. Jessie and the rest of the plane’s passengers seem to put up with Trish’s shrieking voice and intrusive camera with good humour and when the plane starts to come down with Trish still filming it all my fingers were crossed in the desperate hope that she’d be the first one sucked out through a blown-out window. Sadly this was not to be…

Once on the ground and staggering from the rather cheap-looking plane crash debris, Tape 407, already not amounting to much, goes all to Hell. At this point I imagine that the script has abandoned any sense of narrative or character development as the cast of clichés (irritating bald fat bloke, the kids, macho man, helpful stewardess etc) babble incoherently at one another, over one another and then repeat what one another has just said. Meanwhile young Trish is still filming but most of her efforts appear to consist of running feet and a soundtrack of people breathing heavily and shouting “Oh my God, oh my God”. There’s a brief bit of excitement as the unseen predator sweeps past occasionally - we see a swishing tail or a snuffling snout - but the film finally lays bare its budget deficiencies by unwisely revealing the creature at the climax of the film after an admittedly-unexpected downbeat ending.

Dull and visually-uninteresting, Tape 407 is a real chore to sit through. Ironically, it clearly doesn’t have the budget even to pull off the ‘found footage’ trick with any real guile and just ends up looking random, aimless and boring, full of pointless cardboard cut-out characters who do nothing but run around making a lot of noise before they’re mercifully bumped off. Rubbish.

Special features: None. Thank God.

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