HERE) would give the genre a little more traction with hardcore fans, that was not to be the case. Which is really a shame to the folks releasing and promoting Matt Stuertz and Adam Hartley's similarly themed RWD. Of course, RWD being halfway decent would have helped even more than trying to rife the Blair Witch money train.
Chris and Ricky are the brains (and I use that term very loosely) behind a television/internet show dubbed "Ghost Goofs." The point of their show seems to be that they find ghosts and pull pranks on them? It's about as stupid as it sounds. They get a tip that the Brut Woods may contain some pretty gullible ghosts, pack up their gear and start shooting. However, what is happening in the Brut Woods is a lot more metaphysical and less paranormal, and that's where Chris and Ricky fall apart.
If you've seen any incarnation of the found footage/paranormal mash up, then you are already familiar with the first act of RWD. You get some fake jump scares, some terrible camera moves, a ton of shaky cam, and less than zero ability to focus a shot for more than three seconds. That's not a knock on Stuertz and Hartley, it's the inroad for these types of films, whether it be Blair Witch or Grave Encounters. It's the fastest way to get to act two, so why not take it.
Act two is an interesting concept for RWD. Chris and Ricky discover an abandoned silo in the middle of the woods. It's not on the maps and is creepy as hell. Okay, it's thin, but we're in. Even through the subsequent underground abandoned school, which makes little to no sense but is creepy enough to add a dash of tension and keep you invested. Then Chris and Ricky meet timeline shifted doppelgangers of themselves and shit goes way off the rails. Instead of actually dealing with the realization that there are multiple versions of themselves and timelines (think Cube 2: Hypercube), Chris and Ricky decide to prank themselves. For 20 minutes we watch the two characters we've developed a relationship with destroy any good will they've earned by acting like two obnoxious douchebags.
By the time Chris and Ricky realize that they are in actual danger, we don't give a shit, which is a shame because there is some redemption offered in the films third act. Stuertz and Hartley desperately try to claw their way back with some interesting permutations on the interactions between the same individuals an it's relevancy in the space time continuum. In the end though there is not enough good will left for the characters to try and make sense of what is going on in the films final fifteen minutes, Conversely, a film that plays with similar milieus, Cube 2 keeps the viewer invested positively enough in it's characters that when the film gets wonky with the time stuff you stay invested. While I wouldn't call Cube 2 a great film, it's barely a good one, it is still satisfying. After its second act, RWD has no hope of getting back to that plateau.
RWD is a very interesting film. Putting aside the obvious conceits that you have to accept with a found footage film, the concept is pretty cool. The film is done in unfortunately by an inane second act that leaves such a bad taste in your mouth that nothing short of a miracle could have redeemed the film. Stuertz and Hartley are talented filmmakers, but their talent is hamstrung by certain character decisions they make in RWD, The film is currently available on various VOD platforms via our good friends at Osiris Entertainment, check it out and support independent horror.
** stars out of *****
That's it for me. As always, thanks for reading and "enjoy every sandwich."