Daylight (2013) Review

Daylight posterDaylight (2013)

By: Joey Keogh

Dir: David McCracken, Joel Townsend, KaidanTreiman
97 mins.

UK release:24 August 2013 (Frightfest)

The found footage subgenre is currently more than slightly overpopulated, and ‘Daylight’ wasn’t the first, or indeed the last, of its ilk to be shown at this year’s Frightfest. Likewise, the idea of demonic possession was popular, so ‘Daylight’, though highly derivative on both counts, boasts at least some of its own ideas and, to its credit, it does try a bit harder than the likes of, say, ‘Dark Touch’, which was pretty much just ‘Carrie’ but Irish.

The premise of ‘Daylight’ surrounds a group of Child Protective Services workers, and a particular case study of theirs involving a young girl who appears to be possessed by some sort of demon. As the film deals with certain religious elements, there are several, heavy-handed hints that the local parish priest may have been abusing her, but this, along with every other narrative strand (and there are A LOT) is quickly dispensed with, in favour of the typical, by-the-numbers, ‘Paranormal Activity’-esque cheap tricks to which we’ve become accustomed.

daylight1‘Daylight’ is not a bad film per se. It is light-years away from some of its contemporaries, such as the dreadful ‘The Devil Inside’ – this may not boast the best or most consistent ending in the world, but at least we get an ending – and there are some decent ideas, interspersed within the muddled, confused narrative. The central story, involving the seemingly possessed teenager, is strong, and it elicits the biggest shock of the film, when the child in question is found after having slit her wrists.

This, and several other, key moments benefit from the found footage format, because the fear, surprise and confusion of those operating the cameras can be felt in a much more visceral sense, and, at least for the most part, it’s easy to understand why certain things are being filmed. However, there aren’t nearly enough scares to facilitate such a weak, confused narrative, the dialogue doesn’t feel real at all and the three central performances are noticeably stiff, especially towards the end, when everything goes a bit mental.

The main issue with ‘Daylight’ is that it isn’t quite sure what kind of film it wants to be. On the one hand, it tries to tell a rather interesting story about a troubled young woman who may or may be being influenced by a person in a position of authority. On the other, there’s something to do with time travel and a trauma that one of the social workers dealt with in her childhood. It’s all just a bit too much, and there’s a sense that the filmmakers, in a rush to create something amazing, tried to include too many of their own ideas, without first taking the time to really think about what would work onscreen.

daylight2The ending must be seen to be believed, as it is so completely overblown and bizarre – not in a particularly good way – while the journey it takes to get there doesn’t seem to make even close to as much sense as those onscreen would try to have us believe. The strongest plot strand is dismissed without another thought and any potential scare factor is squandered in favour of slamming doors and shifty priests. Nothing of note really happens, and even the biggest scaredy cats will be left scratching their heads wondering what the hell is going on half the time.

‘Daylight’ boasts a decent premise, and a clever setup that will hook the viewer in early, but it ultimately unravels thanks to far too many plot strands vying for attention. A wasted opportunity that is, at least, to its credit, still far more genuine, and brave, than certain other, similarly-themed outings.

Rating 5/10

Snap (2013) Review

snap1Snap (2013)

By: Joey Keogh

Dir: Youssef Delara, Victor Derran

UK release: Monday, 26th August 2013 (Frightfest)

The world of underground dub-step is, rather strangely, considered a great basis for a movie in ‘Snap’, a thriller involving a well-meaning young man named Jim (Jake Hoffman, basically a poor man’s Jason Biggs, but moodier) who, following a childhood trauma which we only get a glimpse of through flashbacks, now suffers from schizophrenia – but it’s totally cool, because he just so happens to be a bad-ass dub-step composer too.

After falling in love with a beautiful social worker (‘Twilight’s Nikki Reed), Jim realises that he must get his life in order, and decides to finally rid himself of his manipulative older brother (Thomas Dekker) who always seems to be around, giving him shit at the worst possible moment. Add to the mix his kindly, ex-therapist (Scott Bakula) who is trying to figure out what exactly happened to Jim, and ‘Snap’ turns from a simple study of a man struggling to keep his demons in check, to a bizarre relationship drama with some horrible dub-step thrown in for good measure.

snap2‘Snap’ isn’t exactly what one might call an original film – it’s basically ‘Fight Club’ but with less fighting, far less charismatic leads, and lots more shouting in public. The dub-step angle is fairly new, but it also isn’t terribly exciting or even exploited as much as it could’ve been. Hoffman isn’t a strong enough screen presence to carry the film and Reed, though she tries her best, isn’t given a whole lot to do here either. A climactic sequence, involving a hostage situation at a dinner party, is incredibly ill-judged, and makes little sense, even when taking Jim’s deteriorating mental health into account.

Likewise, his childhood trauma, which is harked back to constantly throughout the film, doesn’t ring true, and to suggest that it’s the cause of his adult schizophrenia is an oddly ill-informed judgement on the part of the filmmakers. ‘Fight Club’ did this twist to death, and since its release, audiences have been able to spot it coming a mile away. Earlier this year, ‘Girls Against Boys’ made the same mistake as ‘Snap’, by making it incredibly obvious, from the outset, that the main character is talking to herself which, when it is ultimately revealed, renders everything that’s come before it completely irrelevant and inconsistent.

snap3‘Snap’ tries to go with the shock factor in the final act, revealing that a second character is schizophrenic, but if you haven’t guessed it from the moment this person (and their “friend”) first appears onscreen, then this may be the first film dealing with this theme that you have ever watched and, in this case, it may be best to see something a bit smarter and more effective, like ‘Shutter Island’, before your brains completely turn to mush. Otherwise, there’s nothing to recommend ‘Snap’. It’s diverting enough, for the most part, but it falls apart in the final act and the dub-step is really irritating – surely Morrissey didn’t sign up on the retooling of ‘How Soon Is Now’ playing over the end credits?