The found footage subgenre has reached its saturation point. Every other week, there’s some new horror film featuring a (usually) twenty-something kid taping his/her friends doing something stupid, when all of the sudden ghosts/vampires/zombies/demons/aliens intrude, wreck havoc and mutilate the aforementioned twenty-somethings, all the while they — the kids — continue to record their own demise(s) for a completely inexplicable reason. It’s a formula so well-known and worn down it’s infiltrated non-horror genre films (Chronicle – superhero found footage) and straight parody (this year’s Wayans spoof A Haunted House).
Found footage, an already self-aware genre by its own mechanization, has now begun to acknowledge it’s very own self awareness. It’s not so much a snake eating its own tail, but a snake looking at itself in a mirror, acknowledging the tail as its own and deciding “Fuck it, I’m hungry,” and devouring itself anyway. Ghost Team One, the Slamdance graduate, is the latest evolutionary step in this newfound “looking-from-within-at-within” trend. It’s a found footage film where the joke is in the act of ‘recording’. For the full review, hit the jump.
Two simple-minded doofuses Sergio and Brad (Carlos Santos & J.R. Villareal) accidentally tape what they believe to be a ghost during a house party. Their ghostly proclamations draw the attention of the beautiful and highly superstitious Fernanda (Fernanda Romero). The two guys, attempting to impress the girl, decide to buy a bunch of cameras and put it around their ‘haunted’ home a la Paranormal Activity. The joke, of course, is that the boys’ stakeout has less to do with capturing any sort of spirit, but more-so an excuse to hang around Fernanda and hopefully get into her pants. Ghost Team One knowingly mocks the very premise of the Paranormal Activity films – that any idiot would put cameras around their house for the noble intention of capturing a ghost… because who the hell would want to know a ghost lives in their home? And if a person did suspect a ghost resided in their household, why not — just, you know, move? By basing its premise on perhaps the least noble of intentions (wanting to get laid), Ghost Team One renders all the so called ‘serious’ found footage films silly and more damning: unrealistic.
Found footage’s success is predicated on the mixing of reality with film. It’s the notion that what the audience is watching could very well be real. That the footage is not a film per se – but some guy or gal’s home videos. Which explains why people could believe Blair Witch Project to be an actual documentary about some doomed indie film-school kids or why there was a trial centered around whether or not anyone was brutally murdered and eaten during the making of Cannibal Holocaust.
Ghost Team One highlights the inherit ‘unreality’ of the found footage premise. It’s telling that the funniest moments in the film center around the two guys’ reactions when an actual ghost does make its presence known: they do what any normal person would do – run away. Further scenes involving a nonsensical spirit expert, a cross dressing possession and perhaps the worst attempted exorcism of all time only further drives the point across. Ghost Team One is intent on laying the found footage genre bare and nailing a stake through its heart.
Of course, Ghost Team One is also an R-rated comedy about two ‘bros’ — so you get the usual mixed bag of scatological humor and infantile attempts to be edgy. At times, the movie feels like it’s trying just a bit too hard. It’s comedic sensibilities fall most in line with the similarly uneven 2013 release Hell Baby, though Ghost Team One’s pointed commentary on the found footage genre seems more relevant than Hell Baby’s comedic takedown of exorcism films.
All in all, Ghost Team One’s surprisingly piercing analysis of the found footage genre trumps its own uneven frat boy humor. It comes highly recommended for everyone as sick of the Paranormal Activity/Last Exorcism/VHSs as I am.
Ghost Team One is currently in select theaters and on VOD.