Sunday, October 24, 2010

There's an Extracurricular Activity for Everyone

Yup, another found footage horror, that’s what we have here. Take your dramamine and hop in the shaky camero!

Quick Plot: Three dark-spirited college students decide that the only way to be significant is to murder someone on camera. I’ve only been out of college six years, but did it take that short a time to finally kill off mock trials and a cappella groups?

Ringleader Travis (Connor Thorp) is a sadistic young man eager to start, while creepily emotionless Stephanie (Michelle Roe) offers monotoned support. Cameraman Ryan (Michael Downey) is the wild card, a quiet and lonely student who just may have a conscience. Together, they decide the best victim is their age and should be buried alive on camera with a microphone nearby to converse with the filmmakers during the shoot.

Stephanie pinpoints their target, a friendly music major named Kayla. Ryan is charged with cracking into her deepest fears by interviewing her on camera as part of a mysterious school project. Open but a little hesitant, Kayla admits she’s afraid of spiders and dying alone. Notes are taken.

Meadowoods is something of a miserable experience, but unlike a film like Broken, it ultimately feels as if it were made with a purpose. Much like Deadgirl, it follows unlikable young people doing despicable things to an innocent girl. In this case, there’s nothing sexual about the violence. Stephanie simply feels nothing for people and wants something to do, while Travis is all too easily excited by the power he feels deciding someone’s life. The film wants to do more with Ryan, the timid voice of reason, but perhaps due to the limits of its found footage style, Meadowoods never really expresses what it could. It's a little frustrating and ultimately keeps the film from being something truly memorable or lasting, but those who enjoyed something like Gus Van Sant's Elephant may still find it to be an effective use of 90 minutes.

High Points
As with 
Deadgirl, I found the performances and characterizations quite strong, a difficult feat considering how unlikable most of these people are. In particular, Michelle Roe sends out a chillingly restrained sociopathic stare that makes her incredibly unnerving

Low Points
I get that the ending is fitting for this kind of found footage film, but it ultimately feels so empty and brief considering the buildup, especially since it's not even crystal clear what actually happens to whom

There’s no reason to turn on the soundtrack at the film’s most intense sequence. The character's reaction to the situation is scary enough and gets buried under the artifice of scoring when in fact, this is presented as found footage anyway

Lessons Learned
Everyone remembers murderers

When being asked what you're most afraid of by a stranger making you uncomfortable, it's best to simply lie and say something appealing, like peanut butter, bulldog puppies and coconut

A great way to get discounts at your local hardware store? Always claim purchases for a school project

Meadowoods is a pretty miserable film-watching experience, but it’s written, directed, and acted quite well. Fans of nihilistic horror will probably find it enjoyable, and those who appreciate effective low budget filmmaking will admire what Meadowoods accomplishes with so little. Since it’s currently streaming on Instant Watch, consider queing it up if (and only if) this kind of hard, quiet horror suits your style. 


  1. Sounds depressing, actually. But thanks for reviewing it!

  2. It totally is Wings, it totally is.
    But thanks for reading about it! :)

  3. Hmmm - another "found footage" horror film. I'm usually drawn to these movies because they tend to offer some kind of mystery (like Paranormal Activity or the upcoming Evil Things) but this just looks like some heavy stuff. That said, maybe it's taking "found footage" horror in different directions.

  4. The filmmaker was definitely ambitious in trying to use the 'idea' of found footage with the theme of his movie, this whole 'I exist only when my life is in some form of record and today's that's video' twist. I like that aspect and it's why I think Meadowoods has a lot of merit, even if it's not necessarily entertaining or enjoyable. It's a recommendation only if you're in the mood for something ugly.

  5. Wow--very depressing. But it looks interesting at the same time.

  6. That's precisely how I would describe it Sadako.

  7. I saw this movie on the FrightPix channel on my roku streaming device,and I definitely agree with you about the stare put on by Michelle Roe being very unnerving. I also noticed that same look in the arrest photos of the beauty pageant contestant from Utah,who was arrested along with a couple of friends for tossing bombs randomly from a moving vehicle.

    1. Zoolander's Blue Steel has NOTHING on that look!