ALWAYS WATCHING – A MARBLE HORNETS STORY – review

Found Footage Review

As we settle into this film it’s worth noting that this is part of a larger mythological universe of storytelling. The ‘Marble Hornets Story’ reference is noting that this is connected to the webseries called Marble Hornets that ran for several years and sorta spawned spinoffs. Marble Hornets popped up during the Slender Man hey-day and this is a story inspired and influenced that by most famous of creepypastas. While the core tie of the movie to the bigger universe is the ‘Operator’, AKA Slender Man, there is another small tie that fans will find. So while newbies don’t really need to have any sort of knowledge of the webseries (and reading comments, fans may just be frustrated by the lack of connetions) {PS – I dipped into the web series and it was pretty fun but takes a while to get going and brother, as fun as it was, I dunno that I have nearly ten + hours that I want to invest into this show, sorry).

ALWAYS WATCHING begins with footage of two people running for their lives from something barely seen. The mysterious footage ends with the two people befalling what we can only assume is a dire fate. The story then picks up through the lens of a man chronicling a New Year’s Eve party with his video camera when he happens upon a young woman doing drugs in the bathroom. It turns out the two are soon to be coworkers but even sooner thy are to be, well, invovled in the bathroom.

Flash ahead and the cameraman is working with the young woman, a reporter for a local news station and they are meeting another new coworker who is setting the two onto a new story where they’ll follow a repo crew as they repossess homes. Everything goes well until they happen upon a house that looks like it was just occupied minutes before but there is no sign of the family. A box of home movies are found and the cameraman is tasked with going through them to see if there’s more story there. What he finds is that this was a family that seemed happy until a change happens and the husband starts filming more and more and seems to become paranoid that someone is stalking them. With this repo story turning into one of a family that has disappeared into thin air. As the news teams digs deeper and deeper they find that the father’s paranoia may not have been as offbase as they thought when slowly they realize that whatever or whoever was following thhe family is now following them.

The set up here is great. We get the tease without context, we get the pseudo-doc that opens the door, and then things get dangerous when the film turns to solely found footage. This is a great set up. The news stuff is fantastic. The problem comes into some weird background story stuff like the fact that the cameraman was stalking the reporter a bit after their hook up. It’s meant, I think, to mirror the idea of ‘watching’ that the ‘Operator’ (I guess that’s what Marble Hornets calls the Slender Man) will be doing to him soon enough. It’s a gross plot point and aside from just showing him as an obsessive creep it doesn’t serve the main plot. As much fun as the film is the fact that we get nothing in regards to what the ‘Operator’ is, what he does, what he wants, and why he does what he does becomes an issue. They just give him abilities with no one knowing anything about him and it reaches a point where, shrug, OK, I guess. Like, they try to set up that he is a dangerous adversary, but again, without having ANY point of reference of how he operates or why he mind as well be a big, mean dog they are trying to get away from. There needed to be more work done to establish SOME sort of internal mythology so we can better connect with the terror. The dynamic with the cast is weird as well, as it’s clear there’s tension but it comes and goes like the passing wind and while it’s always ‘there’ it also sorta waxes and wanes as they decide they are in the same ghoulish boat of doom.

Overall, this is a fun, creepy movie. It takes what we know about Slender Man and plays with it and they do a good job of making sure he is creepy and mysterious. The movie goes a little off the track as the characters try to figure out how to deal with the ‘Operator’ and how they can escape it. Things don’t so much ramp up as just run out of road. The climax is intense but feels random and rushed and it’s here that the film apes the found footage tropes too much. I liked the movie, it was a hoot, but it has its issues. It’s definitely better than most of what’s out there but it doesn’t quite overcome its issues to be wholly successful.

Worth a look if you’re a found footage fan but not necessarily something you’ll remember long after you’ve seen it.

2.5 out of 5

Hey, I am a writer too, go get you some books!

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