It’s never quite clear whether this is a discourse on science vs superstition (vs perception vs reality) in the guise of a mainstream horror flick, or a supernatural horror with the usual accompanying pseudoscience taken to pretentious levels. Taken as the latter, it’s a complete failure; tired, unmotivated jump scares flopping in every so often amongst two hours of “Did I mention that I’m a sceptic?” The critic revels in the opportunity to spew the usual patter: there’s nothing to make you care for the characters or their goal, no tension, no real stakes because everything is vague. And this is due to the other angle, the attempt to explore these ideas which could have sat well in a much better film. But they demand ambiguity – writer-director Rodrigo Cortés shackled, unable to play the big card til the very end, his film a snake eating its own tail to hide its secret. And like the rest of the film, the finale is pretty inconsequential anyway.
It’s disappointing that Cortés’s follow-up to the excellent Buried should be… basically a rejected Shyamalan pitch. The attempt to fuse an interesting meditation with paranormal inactivity is fatally flawed, and one is advised to try to ignore that side of things. I was, however, a big fan of how the film is shot. Where characters assure themselves that the “paranormal” is all hoax, for them to conquer, the camera – hand-held – is an unspoken subversive force. The TV debate scene in particular is refreshingly defamiliarising.