“The Gracefield Incident” is an attempted Canadian “Blair Witch Project,” and a veritable minefield of spoiler alerts waiting to happen.
It’s “Cabin in the Woods” meets “Signs,” a Bigfoot movie as imagined by M. Night Shyamalan.
And it’s, well, not terrible. The monster and lights in the sky effects are first rate. The shooting — little pools of self-sourced light in the dark gloom of a Quebec forest — and editing (characters yanked out of frame, willy nilly) is fundamentally sharp.
It’s just so silly, so very derivative, so predictable — despite over-explained moments, laughably illogical means of getting overhead GoPro camera shots of the setting.
But that’s what happens when you sentence yourself to first-person/shaky camera narratives. You waste screen time explaining the various angles and point-of-view shots you’re getting, when of course you’re going to have to break your own rules, at some point.
The video game editor Matt (writer-director Mathieu Ratthe) is so obsessed with cameras that he’s videotaping his pregnant wife (Kimberly Laferriere), while driving, with a helmet cam. And crashes and almost kills them in the opening scene.
They lose the baby, and amazingly, she doesn’t ditch him. Even though he’s replacing the eye he lost in the accident with a miniature eyeball cam-corder.
After recovery, they join two other couples for a weekend getaway at a chateau on the woods — hot tubs, drinking, French-Canadian accented banter. Oh, and by the way, the boss who loaned them the cabin is a Bigfoot cultist.
Events then conspire to make this motley, tipsy crew believers.
Dialogue writing is a dying art in North America’s film schools. Apparently. The inanities blurted through here include “Do you have to film EVERYthing?” to “Make sure you record EVERYthing because NO ONE will ever believe it!” to “OK, night vision’s on, now.”
When somebody says, “I’m gonna go check it out, you guys stay here,” bad things start to happen.
There is another camera among the sextet, and of course there are cell phones. But mysterious things make cell service die and bumps and claws in the dark of night make characters disappear. Attributing all the various shots to those two cameras — and CCTV in the chalet — still doesn’t add up.
The over-familiar is displaced by the “Seriously?” silly entire third act. This comes after a character has reached into a newly-formed meteorite crater to pluck a glowing rock — with his bare hands and empty head.
The acting isn’t terrible, though the script at times makes the players seem that way.
More work should be tossed at the effects team. But if writer-director-editor star Mathieu Ratthe is sentenced to another decade before being allowed to film another feature (“Lovefield,” 2008), don’t expect me to look surprised. Of all the hats he wears in this production, editor is the one that seems to give him a future.
MPAA Rating:PG-13 for sci-fi action/terror, accident images, language and some suggestive material
Cast:Mathieu Ratthe, Kimberly Laferriere, Alex C. Nachi, Juliette Gosselin, Victor Andres Turgeon-Trelles, Laurence Dauphinais
Credits:Written and directed by Mathieu Ratthe. A Momentum/eOne release.
Running time: 1:25