Starring: Mark Duplass, Partrick Brice
Director: Patrick Brice
Videographer Aaron (Brice) answers an ad on Craislist to video the last messages of a dying man, Josef (Duplass), at his cabin in a remote location. But something is very off about the Josef and his story. Initially just really awkward, things soon take a dark turn.
This is a simple film, with just two actors, and functions as a found footage film, but without the irritating shaky camera work. Or not that much of it, anyway. It’s a film in which you get the impression that Josef is really lonely, and that Aaron really needs the money, two people drawn together by circumstance, and then you are slowly made aware that that’s not what’s happening at all.
There are some moments in this film, especially at the start, that made me laugh. Mark Duplass as Josef feels naturally awkward, and he never overplays it. He’s almost like people that you might know, someone at the office or high school who’s lonely and trying to fit in but doesn’t know how. He makes you cringe for Aaron, who has to go along with it. And yet… part of you does think, Aaron, you should really just get in your car and leave.
The film is really nicely paced in that way. It builds slowly but evenly, as Josef tests his new friends credulity and patience, and though you might see that it’s going somewhere dark, it takes you there at just the right speed to keep you interested and engaged. It’s a really entertaining film.
I think there is a moment or two where you’re going to judge Aaron as a character for not just leaving or for not taking enough action, but these are not major moments and don’t spoil the film. I think it poses interesting questions about the way in which predators “groom” people, playing on their sense of “it would never happen to me”, and the way in which the average, nice person often doesn’t know how to extricate themselves from situations with sinister people. In that sense, there’s something very psychologically realistic about this film, even while it’s also a fun horror thriller.
It’s a great small film that entertains and has an excellent central performance from Duplass, which keeps you guessing as to where it’s going and what will happen next. It’s darkly comic in places and chilling in others, all leading to an interesting ending… and a sequel.
See It If: you’ve ever wondered about those unusual ads on Craigslist or Gumtree… A film that should please horror and thriller fans, it’s dark without being overly grotesque, but might also interest true crime fans, even though it’s fictional.