Debut director Fernando Barredo Luna’s found footage horror Atrocious (2010) is unfortunately just that; a hugely derivative mash-up of The Last Broadcast (1998), Paranormal Activity (2007) and REC (2007) that has almost no recognisable USP (unique selling point), and instead relies entirely upon evoking past memories of previous mockumentary successes. Atrocious plays out as a found video tape (à la any number of low budget horror films released since 1998), discovered by police on ‘4th April 2010’ after stumbling across the bodies of the Quintanilla family at their old rural farmhouse near Sitges, Spain.
We understand that the younger members of the clan had taken it upon themselves to investigate local urban legend ‘The Girl of Garraf Woods’, a phantom that resides in the near-impenetrable bamboo forest surrounding the family’s holiday home. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find anything new to say about the huge number of Blair Witch-esque, timid imitators that have flooded the low budget horror market in recent years. In future, it would be handy if, with the press notes, the filmmakers could simply submit a copy of the mockumentary check-list they’ve clearly used to confirm the have exhausted every possible cliché – the barking dog, the creepy kid etc.
It seems almost unthinkable that Atrocious should be given a theatrical release, no matter how limited, and its recent exposure at this year’s Film4 FrightFest must be held partly responsible for this. When contrasted with one of the festival’s greatest successes, Israeli horror/pitch-black comedy Rabies (Kalavet, 2010), Atrocious’ sheer lack of anything approaching originality or competence is all the more apparent. The fact that Atrocious runs at a mere 71 minutes and yet still manages to feel overdrawn is perhaps the most damning indictment of its ineptitude; Luna’s film is dull, soulless and void of any discernible imagination.