Home Movie – review
It isn’t a modern notion certainly, but there is something about modern technology which makes home movies seems all the more prevalent than they were in the past. Sure, sure, people made them before but now it’s so much easier to document the life and minutia of the modern family that it’s harder to find people who don’t film or photograph everything they do than it is to find people that do. Such is the world of Home Movie, a film done in the ‘found film’ style that features the home movies of a family on the brink of Hell. And as with all things of this nature, the bitter irony is always that you the viewer can see too well how quickly disaster is coming while the people living it cannot.
Home Movie is the story of a family via its home movies. The family almost obsessively videotapes every moment of importance (and lots of incidental ones as well) they share, the holidays, the birthdays, and even the every day. This is a family trying desperately to create solidarity by forging moments that unite them while they are tearing themselves apart. The family consists of the preacher father, the psychiatrist mother, and an inseparable brother and sister. The family is attractive, well off, and there is no shortage of love in the hearts of the parents but something is wrong here. Something is wrong with the children. We find out during one of the videos that the children had done something at school that forced the parents to move far out to the country to try to restart their lives and to save their children from their misdeeds. It doesn’t take long though for the viewer to see that whatever is wrong with the children is still wrong. What seems like mere pranks and acting up takes on a darker tint as the film progresses and their transgressions and misdeeds get darker and far more deadly. Their mother and father try in their own ways to hold the family together but always the children are gnawing at their roots. Too late the parents realize how dangerous their children are as they turn their attentions on a fellow classmate and their games turn deadly. It will take an act of sheer will and love for these parents to save the family, but even their best efforts may be too late.
Wow, what en effective little creeper. I had never heard of this movie and it was definitely one that snuck up on me. I know a lot of people get tired of certain sub-genres and this is one of those that really rubs people the wrong way but for me, when they are done right, they are just so effective. So powerful. This is one of those cases. It’s flawed, for sure, but we’ll get to that.
There is a growing dread that begins as soon as the film does and doesn’t let up. The pacing is great here, and works very well to create a palpable tension. The acting too is very good and the adults make this feel like a family, like two parents trying to save their children. I also love the restraint shown by the filmmakers. We are definitely shown how evil these children are but never do things go so far that it becomes a gore show or over the top. Enough is shown to make the point but not to belabor it.
I think the biggest issue I had was that it does get a bit far fetched in these types of movies how it seems that EVERYTHING that happens is filmed. It happens, sure, but man, everything? But on that, they do a good job of making it seem that the camera either exacerbated things or just happened to be on. There is also a turn in the plot when the father turns to his faith to save his children and it’s a bit much. No, it’s a lot much. It does add an element to the film we had not considered – is the evil in these children something supernatural? – but the way it is handled is pretty over the top and takes you out of the film for a few moments.
There is good, there is bad, but overall, darn I really like this film. The end disappointed me in how it played out but I cannot complain with how it all comes together. It’s just one of those things where I cared enough about the film and the story to want to see something else – not a bad thing, just a thing. This is not a great film, and isn’t the best example of this genre (we forget Man Bites Dog a bit I think) but it’s an effective and chilling film that will scare the heck out of young parents. To tell you how much I enjoyed it, despite the score I may give it, I still shiver a little at how things play out. Yipes. That’s a heck of a film.
7.5 out of 10