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Director: Rob Savage
Writer: Gemma Hurley, Rob Savage and Jed Shepherd
Starring: Haley Bishop, Jemma Moore and Emma Louise Webb
This was a film that I kept hearing a lot about and was intrigued to check out. It seems that some people really liked it while others not so much. Since it was a 2020 film and had a short runtime, I decided to give it a viewing on Friday night with Jaime. I’ll get into it a bit later how it effected us later. First though, the synopsis is six friends hire a medium to hold a séance via Zoom during lockdown, but they get far more than they bargained for as things quickly go wrong.
We start this movie off with Haley (Haley Bishop), starting a Zoom meeting. She invites a bunch of her friends and we follow as she gets herself set up. While she is away from her computer, someone tries to join, but needs to be accepted. Haley hears things being thrown at her window and she checks to see it is Jemma (Jemma Moore). She then accepts her and Jemma goes home to get on her computer as well.
The rest of the crew starts to join of Emma (Emma Louise Webb), Radina (Radina Drandova) and Caroline (Caroline Ward). We get to learn a bit about some of them through these early interactions. Jemma is a bit of a prankster. Radina just moved in with her boyfriend at the start of quarantine, Alan (Alan Emrys). Things aren’t going great as they really don’t know each other. Caroline lives at home with her dad and we see she also has set up in Zoom a background that is her walking into her room, opening a drawer and brushing her hair.
Someone who also joins is their friend Teddy (Edward Linard). He has also moved in with his rich girlfriend, Jinny (Jinny Lofthouse) at her parents’ place. Finally Seylan (Seylan Baxter) joins who is their medium. She tries to get them to take this seriously, but it isn’t going well from the start. Teddy leaves when Jinny interrupts and closes his laptop.
When they finally settle in, Jemma is spooked by something. She claims someone grabbed her neck and that his name is the same as someone she knew when she was a child who was nice to her. She is shaken up and something weird happens on Seylan’s screen. She is removed from the Zoom meeting. After she disappears, Jemma reveals the truth. The problem though is that something really starts to happen as each of the women and Teddy, when he finally rejoins. There is something messing with them and it could be a spirit that they conjured.
Now that’s where I want to leave my recap as I don’t really want to go into spoilers, but give you a bit more background and expanding on the synopsis. What I gave is literally half of the movie. What I find interesting is that from my understanding as I’ve never held a Zoom meeting, but the free version only allots you about an hour. This movie has a runtime of 56 minutes so I dig that they’re keeping with the realism. I will say that I have done a few Zoom meetings with friends during this quarantine, so being able to understand helps.
Next I should say this movie did freak me and Jaime out. I don’t think it will work on everyone, but some of things that happen tick boxes for me. What I like is that we can see things happening behind characters who don’t always know it is. Other characters on the meeting will notice it sometimes and that just helped to ramp the fear up for me. We get some effective things that are just glimpses at times. It is enough to freak me out, but not enough for me to critique it.
I have heard some people saying that having been stuck in the house for this quarantine and needing to use Zoom to see friends or for work, they don’t want to see it in their entertainment. Maybe since for me, I don’t use it a lot, I actually really dig the concept and what they did here. Do I think this movie is great? No, I think it is good though. I have a feeling that when life goes to a new normal, we’re going to look back at this little time capsule and be more impressed with what this movie did. I’ve heard a few different titles thrown around for what to call it and Desktop Horror seems to be the one gaining traction. It is a subgenre of the subgenre of found footage. The ones I’ve seen so far, I dig it.
What really makes this work for me is the realism of what they’re doing here. None of the actresses really stand out, but I could feel like they all have a relationship and know each other, so I give credit there. Haley gets annoyed with Jemma for not taking it seriously. Jemma seems like that friend so props to Moore how she played it. Webb seems like the younger one in the group where Bishop feels like someone cooped up who wants to do something different. There are hints that Drandova might make rash decisions that aren’t always the best and her friends know it. Ward lives with her father and it seems like she’s a good person there to help him out. The rest really do round out to help shape them, but this is all I got in such a small timeframe from their interactions. I find that to be pretty impressive to be honest.
Being that this is a type of found footage movie where we are just getting the desktop video of all of them or from their phone, it makes it interesting with the frames we get. For a lot of the movie, we’re seeing the gallery view of Zoom where all of them are on screen. What I liked here is that I’m trying to rapidly look through all of their frames for what is going to happen. It kept me engaged. It will zoom in and focus like you would get if you have speaker mode, to highlight the one talking. They seem to use as many of the features as you can as well of Zoom. I thought the look of the spirit in the movie was quite creepy. We only get glimpses, but that is more terrifying for me sometimes. Aside from that, we get some cool haunting effects that seem to be done practical for the most part. I can really only think of something with Jinny done with CGI. It didn’t look great, but I’m not taking away anything there.
The last thing to cover would be the sound design. We don’t get music at all, which I’m glad. It adds to the realism of the footage. What we do get is ambient sound. There’s a music box that Teddy has that is creepy when we hear it. There are bumping noises and things to this effect as well. It really helps to add to the ambience of what they’re going for which helped to build tension for me.
Now with that said, I thought what this movie did was pretty effective for me. Is this going to be loved and found terrifying for everyone? No it won’t. It worked for me though. I like the realism of the length of the movie with a Zoom session. What they did for the haunting of people was good and it uses things that freak me out. The acting isn’t great, but it doesn’t have to be. It felt natural of a group of people that know each other and I picked up little things about each of them. The effects were good and the ambient use of sound was as well. I would say this is a good movie and would recommend it if all of what I’m saying works for you.
My Rating: 8 out of 10