Okay, so I was looking around on Hulu.com to see what horror movies were available and I came across this description; “In the early ’90s, a psychotherapist began to suspect that his small Arizona community was being taken over by a homicidal religious cult known as “The Bryans.” His entire ordeal was captured on camcorder footage and security tapes.”
It sounded promising I swear. It starts with an introduction by Candyman from the movie “The Candyman.” He is inexplicably hamming it up as he tells us the overview over the movie. He seems like he is on the verge of crying while simultaneous holding in a fart and having a minor heart attack. He tells us that all of the footage was found and edited to its most watchable parts. If we (me; the viewer) begin to feel faint or nauseous then we (me; the only viewer…possibly ever) should look at the ground to regain composure. You know, in case the movie gets too intense. He also advises we (sadly me) to find the nearest usher to locate the closest exit, as if this movie was ever screened in an actual theater and then we start.
Basically, the overall point is that Jonathan (Seth Landau-writer/producer/director of this film) is a psychotherapist living in Arizona and has two friends; Linda (Tori King); a teacher and local high school and Nicole (Candy Stanton) who doesn’t seem to have a job. Jonathan is given a camcorder by his uncle in New York who apparently used it as one of his own sessions which led to him being stabbed in the skull with scissors. We know this because random footage is spliced in from that very event. Jonathan decides he wants to film his neighbors; members of the famous Bryan Cult that happen to look a lot like Mormons when they are at home, church, or meeting in empty houses. (More on that later) Our first view of one of the members is as Jonathan is outside filming random houses (not creepy at all) and he runs into a member. Even though our main character greets him with a camera in his face the cult member has the nerve of not answering him.
It is worth mentioning right now that anything not captured on Jonathan’s handheld camera is captured either by security cameras that happen to be aimed perfectly at all times and were installed everywhere or one of two other handheld cameras held by various people.
So, we cut to Linda at school with a bunch of normal looking kids sitting in their seats. Once the morning announcements start, all of the students take out a creepy white cracked mask and put them on as the pledge of allegiance is said. One of the students asks Linda why she doesn’t wear a mask thus insinuating that she doesn’t love Bryan like the rest. As the argument reaches a boiling point some sort of alarm goes off and the students leave. Oh, except one long haired hippie that decides to bite her arm and flee. If you have never seen a horror movie, the first to get marked is the first to die. Johnathan later follows a group of the kids to some unfinished housing development where they put on masks and chant. They catch him indiscreetly filming them through a huge window and run outside to get him but he hides behind something mere feet from the door and they miss him. He runs inside, finds a creepy white mask and a picture of Bryan and then runs away when he hears a scream.
In the next scene we see that Linda is scared of the people of the town and then suddenly we are told that Jonathan and Nicole haven’t seen Linda in days. Nice jump, movie. They go to her house and see that it has been ransacked. It looks as though Linda was made to record her allegiance to the cult. Suddenly, she appears in the background and runs at Jonathan but Nicole clubs her to the floor and they escape as searchlights surround the house. What the hell? Why did she rush at Jonathan? who trashed the house? SPOILER ALERT: We never really find out. Jonathan decides to infiltrate the Bryan Church to see what he can find out about Linda’s death while Nicole records audio outside. Obviously Nicole is caught while Jonathan sits in on a sermon which ends with some weird backwards sounds and tongue-speak from a little old man. Nicole is kept in some back room and is interrogated before being introduced to a random girl who has a weird demonic roar. Not really sure what it was supposed to mean to the story but it happened.
We also learn from another spliced in scene the story of the Bryan Cult. A King and Queen’s son was murdered by “the devil”. The devil in this case is a man who lived in the town that didn’t share the same belief that the rest of the town did. To punish him no one would talk to him or even sell him any food or drink until he went mad and stormed into the castle by himself and decapitated the child. To punish “the devil” they tied him to a table and had horses tied to each arm and leg so that when given the signal to run they would rip off the limbs. Then (yes, there is more because someone would totally live through that) they tied up his head/torso and each towns-person (about a 100) got in line to slowly cut his head off with a dull knife.
Johnathan then tells us that he hasn’t seen Nichole for a while since that night and finally decides to head over. Guess who answers the door looking like a Mormon? She acts weird, Jonathan acts poorly and then walks away. I can’t remember who was filming this whole scene but it…it really doesn’t matter. We don’t see Jonathan really work with any patients until this point in the movie. We see him (in the smallest therapists office I have ever seen…because it was a broom closet) taking a night meeting with an obviously trouble man holding a doll. He kind of mumbles and rocks back and f…holy crap is that Norm from Cheers? Yep, George Wendt is in this movie. If you weren’t sure about the absolute bullcrapish-ness of this movie with the bad acting, forced dialogue, jumpy storyline, and Candyman narrator; Norm clinches it.
Jonathan heads to the local psych ward (larger broom closet) for a meeting about a patient. The joke is on Jonathan, he is the patient. He is drugged, thrown into a room and held hostage. It is worth noting that the movie is only half over. The rest of the movie takes place in this psych ward for the most part. All of the bad cliches are touched on; maniac ward manager, violent orderlies, and absurd patients. Basically the reason he is there is because he doesn’t believe in Bryan. He gets help from the outside by a sympathizer to the rebellious beliefs and helps to bust Jonathan out in one of the worst escape sequences I have ever seen. Against the rebel’s advice Jonathan decides to go his own way (back to his house…in the neighborhood…where he just was). The rebel gives him a loaner car (yep) and he heads home where we (an angry and disappointed me) can see that someone is also taping him from inside his house.
I have seen a lot of “found footage movies.” Some are great, some are horrid. This one is worse than “Paranormal Entity” but only just as bad as “The St. Francisville Experiment.” Either way, I need to watch a good horror movie to make up for it.