GORE IN THE STORE
REVIEWS BY FANS FOR FANS
5 STAR FAB - 1 STAR RUBBISH
TAPE 407 - **
Release date 2nd July 2012. RRP: £15.99
Remember when the pilot of LOST aired and it seemed that TV had served up a tasty horror treat, but then it threw out a whole leftfield’s worth of time-travelling polar bears? Well TAPE 407 more or less picks up those pieces with a premise very similar to that which JJ Abrams’ twisty-turny TV show teased us with - a plane crash, frightened survivors and something big snarling in the dark. With its harrowing plane crash segment and believable, squabbling survivors there’s reasons to suspect that TAPE 407 might tread ground that LOST never did. Unfortunately that’s where the similarities end and when the hapless survivors go pitching off into the inky black, Dale Fabrigar and Everette Wallin completely let go of the directorial reins, allowing their film - and characters - to quite literally wander aimlessly.
It’s worth mentioning that this is yet another entry into the oft-derided found-footage genre and once the déjà vu subsides, everything starts amicably enough. The two camera operators (teenage sisters, taping their trip home) are irritating and unpleasant off the bat, squabbling and filming everyone and everything (it’s a wonder they made it as far as the crash without being taken down by the crew) - but it still feels relatively authentic. Plane crashes in films are always going to be frightening to a modern audience but it’s this innocuous build-up that weights the front-end with a good deal of dread. However the chaos and confusion that follow are, alas, good analogies for the loose direction of a film which falls apart at more-or-less the same time as the fuselage.
It’s at this point that the actors shift from “believable panic” to “overwrought, patchy melodrama” and it’s most notable in the cringe worthy flailing of Melanie Lyons: Antipodean gunslinger and campy hand-wringer. That said, it is worth noting that the effects and sets are above-average, even chilling in their devastation when set against the desolate mesa. However it’s clear that the budget was pushed, perhaps rightfully, into this opening sequence which suffocates the rest of the film - meaning that characters are either in empty expanses, or abandoned shacks; and as one character puts it “it looks like a meth lab”. It does and it isn’t remotely atmospheric. Of course it doesn’t take too long for the distant “what-the-hell-is-that” growling noises to turn into a full fledged attack as one-by-one the group are picked off. Despite the obviously unsettling nature of the setup the film manages to be terrifically dull; devoid of all but the most rudimentary of scares. Don’t expect your posterior to leave the seat a lot as the film’s characters run around aimlessly, seemingly into the arms of something nasty to be axed off-screen.
To add insult to an already injured film, the mysterious assailant isn’t really seen until the film’s final moments - in what may be the worst “twist” ending of the year. Unintentionally hilarious, it responds to hitherto unanswered questions with a poke in the eye. Where a kitsch sci-fi plot could have been played out against a harrowing scenario, there’s merely a vast expanse of boredom and a few scant allusions to shady government shenanigans. Apparently to Fabrigar and Wallin this (coupled with a lot of running, shouting and tripping over) is enough to provide momentum. It’s not and it’s a lazy, cheap attempt at a few chills.