Thursday, 18 October 2018

Hungerford (2014)

There are two things I try to remember when writing movie reviews. One, found footage is a style, not a genre. Two, personally insulting anyone who has made a film is neither big nor clever. I may have slipped up once or twice, especially when discussing found footage movies, but I don't think I have ever used a review to launch into a personal attack. I'm not going to change my ways now, but Hungerford made it very difficult.

It's all Drew Casson's fault. He directed Hungerford. He also co-wrote it, with Jess Cleverly and Sarah Perugia. And he gave himself the lead role. And edited it. And did the visual effects. All of those things are commendable, especially when I think of how tough I find it to manage the most minor photo editing tasks on my laptop. It is also often, for micro-budget movies, necessary. If you can wear so many hats at once then that is a few less people who need to be on the payroll. But I can't help thinking that Hungerford is a film that came about because Casson thought he could film him and his other cast members having a lark, use some basic computer knowledge to add to the footage, make up a slight plot that wouldn't need any logic or believability, and then fob it off to undemanding horror fans who will watch any old nonsense. Which wouldn't be so bad if he was good enough in any of his main roles, but he really isn't.

The plot itself is really quite simple. Basically, some young residents of the city of Hungerford get a bit of a surprise when some really bad weather strikes all of a sudden and people start acting odd. The main characters are Cowen (played by Casson, and even the fact that the main character is called Cowen keeps making me irrationally angry, for some reason) and his mates, Adam (Tom Scarlett), Kipper (Sam Carter), and Philippa AKA Phil (Georgia Bradley, the best person in the cast). There's also Janine (Kitty Speed), a young woman Cowen likes. Y'know . . . LIKES likes.

Let's start with the acting then. Bradley does well, but she's the only one. Speed, Scarlett and Carter never seem naturalistic, or even remotely believable, in their roles, and Casson is even worse, because he manages to act badly while also trying to give himself as many heroic shots and flattering angles  as possible.

But even the best actors may have struggled to elevate such a weak script, another area in which Casson had a hand (as mentioned), and another area in which he proves to be, well, just not up to the job (although Cleverly and Perugia can share the blame there). And the material also isn't helped by the direction (Casson), editing (Casson), or VFX (Casson, who shows some potential here, but really should have worked with some minor, unsettling, details to build a bigger picture instead of stretching things too far beyond his reach).

You also get that usual pitfall of many found footage movies; the moments in which you can't believe that someone would keep filming. There are gore gags of varying quality, moments of violence that lack any shock or tension, and a feeling of randomness to almost every aspect of the storyline, from who could end up in peril to trauma from wounds, even right down to the perceived essence of the main characters.

Yet, despite Casson simply not being up to the jobs that he gives himself, I have still decided to bite my tongue and grudgingly give the guy a point for at least getting his film made. In fact, this even has a sequel, which I know I will end up watching some day. There's a slim chance that Casson could deliver some better results with some more money to play with, especially if he utilises different people to write, edit, star, and deal with VFX.


Here's the site for the film.

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