Movie Review: Area 407 (2012)

August 28, 2012

And so we return to the found footage subgenre, a wasteland where creativity goes to die. If you’re unaware, “found footage” flicks are the ones told through the viewfinder of a lost and found handycam. Cloverfield, the Paranormal Activity franchise, and The Blair Witch Project, to name a few good ones. But most found footage flicks aren’t good — infact they tend to be terrible, even if the idea of the films are fun. An example? Area 407

It’s very hard for found footage films to be good — to begin with it’s one of the laziest ways to make a film, and that never bodes well. One indication is that the viewer knows before the movie even starts that every main character dies — it’s not “given to the press by the cameraman footage”, it’s footage found in a shattered camera on the side of a road.

And another thing which is disaster on top of disaster is when filmmakers don’t successfully address why their characters are filming their demise on a handycam. Only a dumb character would film their doom instead of focusing on running, and no one cares about dumb characters. And if viewers can’t care about the characters, it’s tough for them to care about the film as a whole. Above all, it makes these films painful to watch.

Area 407 has every problem mentioned above and then some.

Edit: There ARE spoilers below, however what’s given away here is given away in the official trailer. I’m sorry nonetheless, but note I advise against seeing this movie no matter what.

Co-written and co-directed by Dale Fabrigar and Everette Wallin, Area 407 follows a group of airplane passengers whose plane which crash landed in some desert. The problem is, that desert happens to be the prehistoric version of Area 51, which the surviving passengers quickly find out. Picked off one-by-one, they have to set aside their petty differences and work together to survive. Oh yeah, and the entire ordeal is caught on tape by two young girls (Abigail Schrader and Samantha Lester).

I don’t even know where to begin. The acting is horrible, all done by a slew of actors I haven’t heard of before. I hate knocking people, but it’s clear that none of the budget for Area 407 went to hiring halfway decent actors. And the two main girls (Schrader and Lester) especially, the characters with the handycam? They’re so irritating, I kid you not, I wanted to throw my iPad across the room at minute three. The movie is basically 90 minutes of their perspective, and it’s a disaster.

The script is poorly written too. Infact it’s very noticeable that Area 407 was written by two people, every character has a split personality. I’m not making this up, I got the feeling that different scenes were written by different people before I knew that there were two writers. This is an awful awful movie. The sad thing is, however, that Area 407 would have been so much better if it weren’t found footage and the main characters weren’t those two girls.

At least to my knowledge the idea is unique. Plane crash, not unique… Secret military base, not unique… Dinosaurs, not unique… Put it all together though, and you potentially have a one-of-a-kind film. And all in all it’s a neat idea, replacing aliens at Area 51 with dinosaurs at Area 407. But it’s executed in the worst possible way.

Just so we’re clear, Area 407 is a masterpiece compared to Walther, which set the benchmark for gawdawful two Thursdays ago. That doesn’t mean that this film won’t make your eyeballs pop out of their sockets and your ears bleed, but if you’re ever required to choose between the two, choose Area 407 without question.

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