Saturday, October 10, 2015

Classroom 6: Found Footage on Campus

1960s institutional buildings are basically what they look like—projects designed and constructed by the lowest bidders. They are pretty horrifying from an architectural perspective, even without a portal to Hell. Rumor has it that is precisely what has led to a series of mysterious disappearances tied to a shunned college classroom. For the sake of journalism, an ambitious local reporter locks herself in the creepy academic building, but all that remains of the ill-fated crew is the surviving video that ostensibly makes up Jonas Odenheimer’s found footage horror film Classroom 6 (trailer here), which is now available on iTunes.

We are watching the disturbing tape recorded before Annie Monroe’s disappearance, because that is what she would have wanted. At least, that is what the station manager claims and she isn’t around to contradict him. Like the missing student and professor she came to investigate, Monroe and her team vanished without a trace—as in no bodily remains. Prof. Harrold Thomas used to teach a class on witchcraft in the notorious room six, which really seems like he was asking for trouble. Since then, the administration decided to close off that room to any further use, merely out of sensitivity mind you, but they do not seem to be doing a very good job of securing it.

To get to the bottom of things, Monroe and her skeptical crew will lock themselves in the building overnight. For expert advice and commentary, she also brought along the campus psychic Jack Doggett, who immediately starts getting bad vibes. However, he cannot put his finger on what exactly he is sensing. Unfortunately but predictably, the media morons disregard his warnings until it is profoundly too late.

This should go without saying, but if you plan to lock yourself into some spooky old building as some kind of PR stunt, you really ought to have an escape route scoped out, just in case. Seriously, haven’t they seen reality TV crews do the same dumb thing in Hollows Grove and Grave Encounters, with the same grisly results? At least the location scout found an impressively crummy, cut-rate International style-looking building for everyone to die in. The creepy New Agey mural is also a particularly nice touch.

You know things are bad when the psychic is the voice of reason, but Monroe and her colleagues are from the old media, so what can you expect? It is hard to really develop character within the found footage conceit, but Mike McLaughlin’s Doggett still comes across as a smart, intense cat. As Monroe, Valentina Kolaric wrings a few laughs out of her shallowness, but the rest of her crew is rather bland and featureless.

To his credit, Odenheimer takes his time establishing the ominous atmosphere and physical layout of the infernal building. He seems to understand simple things, like McLaughlin’s business with a tennis ball, are often much creepier than big swirling special effects. However, we have just seen this sort of thing too many times before. Odenheimer does not add enough fresh wrinkles to withstand comparison to the original Grave Encounters, in whose conspicuous shadow C6 so obviously stands. Still, if you cannot get enough found footage horror, Classroom 6 is arguably somewhat better than average. For hardcore subgenre junkies, it is now available on VOD platforms.