Friday, October 14, 2016

Film Review: The Presence (2014)

The Presence (Review)
Germany/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No
*A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review

"Like most found footage movies, this one would have been better if it were a short film."

A group of friends stay in Hohnau Castle, which is said to be haunted by a malevolent spirit...

Is there really anything else I can say about this plot? It's pretty much your basic found-footage horror movie. Markus drags his girlfriend, Rebecca, and his friend, Lukas, to Hohnau Castle. He wants to capture proof of the supernatural so he can write about it for his Anthropology class – something like that. They go to the castle with one camera – they don't set them up everywhere – and they experience strange things. A few bumps in the night, some furniture moving, and so on. It is a very predictable movie, following a path we've seen a million times by now.

There were a few things I liked about The Presence, though. It is, at times, atmospheric. It has an eerie vibe to it, especially early on in the film. It reminded me of those old ghost hunting shows I'd watch on TV around Halloween when I was younger. I suppose I really enjoyed the setting more than anything. It also has some decent visuals here and there, though. It's stuff we've seen on YouTube already – a person moving, but her reflection remaining the same – but it's still fairly effective. Unfortunately, that's all this film really has going for it.

The pacing is slow. During a few moments, it allows for a slow-burn feel; during most moments, it allows for plenty of boredom. In other words, it is fairly uneventful. It's not as bad as Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, but it still suffers from that empty feeling. When it's not uneventful, it feels downright repetitive. Something strange happens, the group bickers, they calmly go to sleep, and repeat. It does this until the end of the movie. On that point, the ending is disorienting and disjointed. It feels like all of these horrible ingredients were tossed into a blender and served to the audience. It's a combination of loud noises, camera glitches, running, and... well, nothing. It doesn't resolve itself.

The acting was at least decent. There are only three cast members, who I refuse to name because I'm already getting bored writing this review. Anyway, they are fine. The camerawork is not so fine. The shaky cam is annoying and the poor lighting made my head hurt. The loud camera glitches were not scary, they were just annoying. The film was written and directed by Daniele Grieco. Grieco crafts a movie with a beginning, middle, and end (maybe), but he fails to conjure any effective horror. If it weren't for the setting, this film would have fallen flat on its face. I'd advise Grieco to stay away from found footage movies and try again. I can see he has promise. (He made this movie with $40,000, so he has what it takes. I know it.)

Overall, The Presence is a bad movie. It's better than Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, but it still suffers from many of the same flaws. It's dreadfully slow, it's uneventful, the plot is predictable, and it uses the same type of horror over and over – jump-scare after jump-scare. The setting is great, but the film just isn't there. Like most found footage movies, this one would have been better if it were a short film.

Score: 3/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood.

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