I like to think I’m normally pretty good at figuring out plot lines in movies, but The Levenger Tapes (distributed by Lionsgate and directed by Mark Edwin Robinson) has left me completely baffled.
Here is what I know for sure: while trying to find a missing child, police stumble across a camera. The police watch the footage recorded, hoping that it will reveal clues about the missing child. Instead, they watch as three college students, Amanda (Johanna Braddy), Kim (Lili Mirojnick) and Chase (Morgan Krantz) document their horror-stricken weekend get-away to Chase’s parents’ isolated mountain home.
As a viewer, this type of filming is refreshing. Because everything is revealed through the camera (and one of the three college students is holding the camera 95% of the time,) the viewer is effectively put into a first-person point of view. Being in the same position as the students – living through the experience instead of watching it – adds a layer of apprehension and paranoia that I’m not used to experiencing with other horror films. However, that is the scariest part of the whole film.
In terms of setting and general plot, The Levenger Tapes is as stereotypical as it gets and majorly underwhelming. Three college students are alone in the woods, they get piss-drunk, they decide (for some unfathomable reason) to go walking through the woods in the middle of the night, the land used to be a “sacred burying ground” for the “natives” and apparently it’s dangerous to go walking through a certain section but they do anyway “because it’s a short cut.”
Disappointingly, I’d say 62 minutes of the 92-minute film is spent with the students wandering through the woods and jumping at their own shadows. If you’re a fan of listening to heavy breathing and whiny girls for an extended period of time, then this movie is perfect for you. Otherwise, there is a lot of tension and suspense built up through the first two-thirds of the film with nothing remarkable to show for at the end. Think of The Forest meets Scary Movie 3.
My last criticism of the movie is the rushed and unexplained ending. I re-watched the last 15 minutes at least five times and I’m still not sure who the “bad guy” is. The film spent over 80 minutes trying to lead the viewer to believe that one person is the “bad guy” only to suddenly change everything at the very last minute. At this point, I’m inclined to say there are two “bad guys,” but one is more bad than the other. There is clear evidence that points to both, and while the movie threw in a monkey wrench at the last minute, I don’t believe there is room to argue for an “anti-hero.”
I don’t think I will be re-watching The Levenger Tapes anytime soon. While I loved the acting and the first-person point of view, the “horror” aspect of this film is mediocre at best. I recommend this film to people looking to gradually ease into the horror world. Don’t let the R-rating scare you away: this film is a walk in the park.
The Levenger Tapes arrives on DVD and VOD on July 5, 2016.