Another week goes by and another "found footage" movie rolls past my eyes, this time it's the potentially interesting Episode 50, a film that I was hoping could work as well as Grave Encounters. It couldn't. In fact, many of the flaws in this movie highlight just how good Grave Encounters was in many ways.
Episode 50 is all about a TV crew getting the chance to investigate a notoriously haunted area that people have been kept away from for many years. Once they get there, of course, it's not long until things start happening on camera that are hard to explain. We know, from the introduction to the footage, that something went wrong as this 50th episode was being filmed but exactly what is only revealed by watching from start to finish.
Joe Smalley and Tess Smalley directed this movie, and also wrote the story that was added to by Ian Holt, so we can easily blame them for a number of the bigger mis-steps. There is some good stuff buried amongst the rubbish here, with a few separate scenes in the first half being especially impressive, but as the film heads toward a finale everything just seems to get worse and worse. Dialogue, that wasn't that great to begin with, becomes laughable. The effects become more prominent and exponentially less frightening. All tension starts to drain away. Then we have what may well be the cardinal sin for a film of this type - lazy camera set-ups and improbable shots. The footage may well have been "edited" for the TV episode it never became but that doesn't excuse the many instances that feel far too staged or well-covered when they are supposed to feature characters reacting to something that's making them afraid.
We can't blame the Smalleys for the acting, though they should have worked harder to draw better performances out of the cast, so for Josh Folan, Chris Perry, Natalie Wetta, Keithen Hergott, etc, it's a case of them being left onscreen delivering poor material in a poor fashion.
It's a shame that Episode 50 falls apart so completely by the time the end credits roll because it does have some good ideas and one or two moments of subtle, atmospheric chills. However, it's completely missable and you'd be better off watching Grave Encounters instead.