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First Look Review - P.O.V.

Horror movie told from a first person perspective.

Review by Benjamin Poole

Directed by: Richard Anthony Dunford

Starring: Tom Clear, Karl Kennedy-Williams, Tuula Costelloe




"P.O.V. has an earnestness, enthusiasm and eye for an idea that most films within this budget range would envy. However, the lack of pacing and plotting ultimately render this movie a two star film. Just my point of view, of course."



The press notes for P.O.V. describe the film as a ‘no budget indie horror’, and they’re not kidding. With further investigation placing the budget at under £9000, the found footage (of course!) style film is cheap and certainly cheerful, providing a novel-ish twist on the aesthetic by purporting to show events from the actual point of view of the lead character throughout, i.e., not a physically hand held camera, but a subjective frame of reference in the style of Lady in the Lake, or Adam Winguard’s Tape 56 in V/H/S/. Wingard’s short is probably the fairer comparison, being synonymous with P.O.V.’s wacky demon shenanigans plotline, and also sharing P.O.V.’s gleeful experimentalism with the form. But, at 84 mins, can P.O.V. sustain its gimmick for feature length running time?
The film begins with Zack (Tom Clear), from whose perspective we experience the film, moping about the house following his acrimonious split with ex Ramona. Suddenly (with a bag over his head and a black out screen), Zack is bundled out by his laddish mates, led by his bullish older bro Sam (Karl Kennedy-Williams), to a house party held in an abandoned residential home. Sam and co have been doing up this cavernous building, a truly excellent found location for a horror film, following its mysterious abandonment a few years previous. When the gang reach the location the party is in full swing, despite the ominous urban legends surrounding the building’s past: dodgy dealings with illegal immigrants, an arson attempt, and cursed residents turning into demons- yikes!
In the opening moments, P.O.V.'s screenplay (and, unlike most cheapie handheld horrors, P.O.V.’s dialogue has clearly been scripted with a care usually not afforded to the ersatz improvisational style of similar ilk) makes the most of the lad banter exchanged as the gang journey to the party; the dialogue seems so pointed that you figure the characters’ insane homophobia and chauvinism will lead up to a payoff later, that the discordant dynamics within the group (one is a womaniser, one is in a relationship, Zack is despondent, etc) will form a theme or develop the plot as the film endures. And when the party is a go - in fairness, this really does look like a party in an abandoned house; awkward, roomy, and with loads of people there! Check the cast list on imdb! - there are inexplicably friends of Zack’s ex in attendance, trash talking the poor lad, and you key in that they must be in situ for some plot purpose or another, that perhaps Ramona will show up causing some dramatic brink for Zack to surmount. But no. After 40 minutes of back and forth banter, Zack and co neck some sort of drug (they looked like tic tacs to this untrained eye), the point of view goes all double focus, and the demons attack; seemingly massacring the entire party (off camera) whilst Zack has a sexy sortie with one, and the film leads to a brutal showdown between the last brothers standing. Essentially, the two halves of the film seem disconnected, shifting from blokey balderdash to brutality in a hot minute, which is a huge waste of character development (Karl Kennedy-Williams gives his all to the role of bald bruiser) and plot potentials.
Ultimately, P.O.V. is frustrating. It’s shot perfectly well, with neat touches that sell the point of view gimmick - Zack’s head is dunked underwater, the camera twitches and jitters to match his nerves - and compared to recent big screen counterpart The Gallows, it fares far better (admittedly, that’s not setting the scaffold high), because at least P.O.V. knows where to point a camera, contains some startling scares and sees the ‘found footage’ approach as a style, not an excuse for not trying. But the issue is that the scares in P.O.V. come too late, and too fast - the gimmick of the first person perspective precluding us from seeing most of the damage they wreak (as we’re stuck with Zack throughout). There are scenes that demonstrate a clever visual imagination too; Zack entering a room where certain partygoers, gaping blood holes where their eyes should be, dance slowly and whisper for him to join them, is deliciously eerie, and a flashback scene where Zack proposes to Ramona, causing an entire restaurant to burst out in cruel laughter, is an especially well handled surprise; as is the twist, which provides a dark double entendre to the film’s title. But before we can get to these nasty pleasures, there is too much pulling and padding, bants and bravado. The film needs a more cohesive narrative - and the fact that P.O.V. was made for so little perhaps means that writer director Richard Anthony Dunford can develop the potential of this idea again at no great loss - cutting the excess dialogue and padding. He clearly has the smarts and the energy for it, but, on this showing, not the ability to organise them, yet.
P.O.V. has an earnestness, enthusiasm and eye for an idea that most films within this budget range would envy. However, the lack of pacing and plotting ultimately render this movie a two star film. Just my point of view, of course.

You can check out P.O.V. at thehorrorshow.tv/movie-display/pov-2014



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