DIRECTOR Dale Fabrigar; Everette Wallin WRITER Robert Shepyer; Suzanne DeLaurentiis; Stephen Fiske; Jude Tucker STARS Abigail Schrader; Samantha Lester; James Lyons DVD 2 July
Another week, and yet another entry into the wildly overpopulated found-footage genre. The basic premise certainly has ambition, as we see through the video lens of two sisters flying home from New York to LA, the crash of their aircraft and the subsequent fate of the handful of survivors stranded in the middle of nowhere, hurt and lost in the darkness, who find themselves being attacked by unseen creatures. The problem Tape 407 has is that the idea is the only thing that works; everything else is handled so ineptly, you may struggle to make it through to the credits.
For this type of film to work there needs to be a reason for the camera, be it a TV crew trapped in a building ([REC]) or a documentary team following a subject (The Last Exorcism). One would think an air crash may deter the girls from filming the last day of their vacation. The excuse is that their camera has a powerful light, but as they then find a box of torches, what’s the point? The film also suffers from a micro budget; the crash is depicted as a few electrical sparks and strobes, the downed plane a small section of fuselage and a single fire, and as such the vast majority of the run-time is spent following deeply unlikeable characters around until they’re picked off by a monster the director can’t afford to show. Much running and screaming leads to a twist climax you’ll have seen coming from the moment the group find an old army radio, and a final CGI shot that will have you covering your eyes in embarrassment, not terror.
This style of film has long overstayed its welcome, particularly as it now appears to be an entry level for filmmakers unconcerned with any form of production values, pacing, script, effects or cast performance, believing that the supposed ‘being-there, point-of-view’ element is all that’s required. It isn’t. When done properly found footage is an effective medium, innovative and frightening. When not it’s excruciating to sit through. Tape 407 is one of the very worst examples yet, and should be avoided at all costs.