If there’s anything redeeming about the otherwise ordinary Chernobyl Diaries, it’s that it proves a film about tragic urban exploring doesn’t need to be “found footage” to work. It doesn’t work well, though Chernobyl does provide sporadic suspense and claustrophobia that is pulled off slightly better than found sootage [sic] disasters such as the Tunnel and Grave Encounters. Like those films, the characters knowingly place themselves in a hazardous situation. In Chernobyl, the danger is mostly wild dogs and radiation. Hell, one or the other would have been enough, right? The curious ill-fated group is later confronted by mutant humanoids–likely a result of radiation–who come out of nowhere. And there may have been ghosts in there too. This wasn’t clear with all the other distractions in this inept attempt at R rated horror. [rating: $3] –Kenyon
There’s found footage. And then there’s found footage brought to attention by the people in it who then use half the movie to comment about the footage. This flopped in the Fourth Kind and Lake Mungo. Unfortuntely, the Tunnel suffers from the same common mishap: melodramatic commentary up the ying-yang. Let the footage speak for itself. We don’t need an actor to explain everything, ad naseum So many fails with the Tunnel.
If the people in the “found footage” are commenting after it was recorded, then there’s no suspense because we already know they are alive and well. Which is strange, considering that a mysterious humanoid underground dweller easily spilled the blood of their companions. Speaking of that, the “reporter,” who so urgently needed to investigate the underground tunnels of Australia, should be held responsible for those deaths. Not that it’s even believable that they died. The Tunnel lacks authenticity, something most evident when the doomed crew’s camera lens has cracks yet the cracks do not move in unison with the camera movement. [rating: $0]
The Boogens (1981) Mostly mundane in its first hour, the Boogens suffers from several pot holes. Oh my bad, i mean PLOT holes. The “monsters” keep a low profile during that hour, only showing their tentacle grabbing people. When the mutants are finally shown full body (i think), it’s still a mystery as to the what, why, where and how. The “how” being this: how could they have survived in a mine tunnel cave for 80 years. And how about this for a why: Why do they kill one guy in the garage and then bring him down to the cave where he is found floating in the water, while they kill some girl and leave her in the basement. Just left there. Didn’t even bother to eat her. The two lead girls look straight out of most any other early campy 80s horror film, and in fact one of them was in the original Prom Night. At least the Boogens didn’t get REMADE yet! [rating: $4] –Kenyon
The Cavern (2005) Ruined by unlikeable characters and a ludicrous ending, the Cavern sets a new low for horror set in the underground. A group of adventurers, whose passion for cave exploration is hardly believable, find a cave that has never been explored. It happens to be a year after their friend DIED in a cave during one of their outings. But that doesn’t stop them from going into a big hole in the middle of nowhere! A creature–which we don’t see much of till the end–has apparently been dwelling in the cave, surviving for years without eating people, until now (just like the Boogens!). When its identity is revealed, the Cavern only digs itself into a deeper hole (ha!). Let’s just say that there’s no way the creature would have the strength to push large boulders like it does. [rating: $1] –Kenyon