Friday, May 09, 2014

App Needed a Few More Wrong Turns and Misdirections: A Movie Review

*full disclosure: a DVD screener of this film was provided by Ram Releasing.

Director: Bobby Boermans.

Writer: Robert Arthur Jansen.

Cast: Hannah Hoekstra, Isis Cabolet, Robert de Hoog and Alex Hendrickx.

App is a Dutch language film that was just released in North America. The film is a smallish horror feature, which focuses on a malicious cell' phone app'. One protagonist's life goes into a downward spiral as technology rears its ugly head, everywhere. This feature asks an interesting question; how far has technology infiltrated modern life? But, the film is really more focused on delivering a standard horror feature. In the end, App is an above average feature, which blends genres and most horror fans will find something entertaining here.

The story can be seen in the film's trailer. Essentially, Anna (Hanna Hoekstra) is a failing college student, who likes to party. At one of her celebrations, a mysterious character downloads a new application on her cell phone. This app' immediately goes to work, destroying Anna's life. Explicit rendezvous and car crashes are broadcast to the world. Meanwhile, Anna is struggling to help her temporarily handicapped brother. All of these tragedies spin Anna further down the rabbit hole.

App relies on a few horror tropes to keep the action going. The initial scene is a violent one. This early hook is mildly unsettling, but overused in the horror genre. From here, events transition over to Anna and her troubles, but a more compelling opening scene could have been more useful. As well, a certain secondary character turns into the typical mad scientist, late in the feature. This film has nothing on Frankenstein or Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, however. Some of the situations and character reveals come across as too predictable; this viewer spotted the villain early in Act II.

The film does take an interesting look at technology and its pervasiveness in culture. There is basically nowhere one can go where technology is not present. From satellites to wireless access in national parks, technology is everywhere. In the film, Anna cannot escape the villain, because that villain is in: heart monitors, traffic lights, mainframes and many more places. However, Skynet has not launched quite yet and Anna does persevere. But, did Anna ever think of simply throwing away the source of her consternation, her phone?

Overall, App is a fun film which will not challenge viewers, too much. The characterizations are fairly flat and Anna is the only character that is developed with any depth. Scenes are short and the film transitions from one action sequence to another, fairly quickly. Some of the setups are well done and a few of the deaths are horrifying. However, there are only a couple of minor sideplots here, involving infidelity and jealousy. App could have used a few more red herrings to unsettle or misdirect watchers.

App has released as of May 8th, 2014, through several formats and horror fans will want to take a look at this small Dutch film. Well shot and acted, App delivers a fairly tense thriller. Unfortunately, the film is slightly predictable at moments, including a late scene on an airplane (and many more). It would be interesting to see director Bobby Boermans and writer Robert Arthur Jansen incorporate more sequences, which step out of the horror mold, in future films. The film here is just satisfying enough her to recommend to horror fans, because of a few action sequences and late confrontations.

Overall: 6.75 out of 10 (characters are shallow, sets are vibrant, action sequences are tense, the climax is a little subdued and over quickly).

*the film's malicious application is called "Iris," which is Siri spelled backwards (an Apple app').

**Anna talks to two people at the party, where the app' is downloaded. So, your pick of villains is relegated to two characters, one of whom is a close friend of Anna.

A trailer for the film is hosted below, but viewers would be best served going into this film blind:

A trailer for App on 28DLA

More release details on App are available at Ram Releasing:

Release Details and Synopsis at Ram Releasing

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