Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Entity: Found Footage Sight-Seeing in Peru

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition, especially not last year in Peru. Of course, surprise was one of its chief weapons. A group of Peruvian college students are about to be deeply shocked by the Inquisition and a vengeful spirit still holding what you might call a grudge. Found footage gets the Latin American Catholic treatment in Eduardo Schuldt’s Entity (trailer here), which releases today on DVD from Omnibus Entertainment.

Why do college professors keep assigning documentaries as their final class projects? Inevitably, somebody decides to lock themselves in the old spooky house where a serial killer used to live, awakening the evil that lurks within. In this case, Carla’s initial proposal starts out more observational and less participatory. She proposes a film about online reaction videos: posted footage of everyday people responding to disturbing imagery. Not surprisingly, her mostly ex-boyfriend Joshua and his buds, the aggressively annoying Benjamin and the nebbish Lucas, readily agree.

At first, it is just about the people watching. However, when all the documented viewers of a particularly unsettling reaction video turn out to be recently deceased, the fab four decide they should track down the video they were so upset by. With the help of the elder brother of the fellow Carla just happened to know from summer break, the kids follow their trail to one of the spookiest looking cemeteries you will ever see. Technically, they find the seriously evil Macguffin in the adjoining church’s archive. That would be what looks like Super 8 film of a Spanish Inquisitor’s torture session, circa early 1500, which most likely has something to do with the malevolent forcing stalking Joshua and his friends.

The whole found footage thing has gone well past the point of been-there-done-that, but the massively creepy, baroquely sinister mausoleums of the Cementerio Museo Presbítero Matías Maestro take the film to a much higher level. Frankly, if you cannot scare viewers there, you have no hope of making it in this genre.

Schuldt makes those gimme putts and also wrings a lot of chills out of the university’s not so well lit library. His locations are eerily effective, but the cast is just so-so. They are all largely playing stock characters, but at least Daniella Mendoza gets to do some memorable stuff down the stretch as Carla. Together, the kids bicker relentlessly, but it is never remotely as sharply written as They’re Watching.

Yes, there is definitely something out there nursing its resentments against all Catholics. The good news is our Buddhist friends are completely off the hook for this one. It isn’t perfect (some of those off-screen screams sound awkwardly fake), but it proves just how far atmosphere and location can go in horror films. In fact, viewers will either be eager to visit the Presbítero Matías Maestro or will avoid it like the plague after watching Entity. Schuldt’s character building is nothing special, but the design team and location really make the film. Recommended for serious horror fans, Entity is now available on regular DVD from Film Movement’s Omnibus Entertainment.