sx_tape (London Film Festival 2013)
As far as I know, sx_tape is still without a distributor. The found footage horror could take a future life as a VHS tape left around abandoned hospitals in 2014 to build further buzz. Otherwise, the takeaway from the London Film Festival screenings, where it received a world premiere, is that Bernard Rose has helmed a very ordinary scare-a-thon with flimsy characters – only to redeem itself with a glorious WTF ending in the last few minutes.
However, I’m unsure as to how many viewers will have the patience to reach that finale, which is an amendment that doesn’t apologise or explain the dull inanities that take up the majority of sx_tape.
The unoriginal premise involves a horny couple, Adam (Ian Duncan) and Diana (Caitlyn Folley), who film themselves having sex in locations that escalate in daringness: a bed, in a car, and then an abandoned hospital. Adam holds the camera most of the time, while Diana flirts extravagantly in minimal clothing; her provocative behaviour is coordinated with eye contact into the lens, as if her demeanour is designed to guilt the viewer.
Inside the deserted hospital, where most of sx_tape is set, the creaky corridors are haunted by a wandering spirit: a ghostly woman who pops up unexpectedly, much in the vein of every other found footage film. If anything, Rose might be parodying the genre as every character and plot beat is so unimaginative. At least, I think he is, even if it’s impossible to tell for the majority of the running time.
The only original comment emerges from a turnaround of Diana’s character, from a male fantasy (underdressed and underwritten) into a possessed shell who informs her boyfriend, “You raped me.” She is speaking psychologically, but also to the audience in an unexpected role reversal that tackles the genre’s tropes – a message likely to be missed by the number of viewers who switch off along the way.
United States of America
85 mins approx