#31DaysOfHorror: The Presence (2014)

presence-pMarkus spends some time with his girlfriend Rebecca and friend Lukas in Hohnau castle which is uninhabited and supposed to be haunted. For two of them it’s the last days of their lifes.

Well, I had a different movie in mind but circumstances dictate that I pick something off of Netflix, and so here we are. Let’s all just get over it and move on. Having such an excellent run of foreign films this month, I think I may have been feeling bulletproof, and so I jumped into this German found-footage film with both feet and was ready to be blown away.

Yeah, The Presence is absolutely terrible.

For those of you who already hate found-footage films, this is the kind of movie that justifies all of your problems with the style. This movie takes elements from every other found-footage ghost story, and manages to do them lazier and less inspired. Found footage is a style that has a lot of space to play, especially with new and emerging technologies, and this one just opts to do what has worked for others in the past.

presence

The story is as bog-standard as it’s possible to get, down to the girlfriend being possessed and getting up in the night to cause mischief and mayhem. The actors might even be alright in other contexts but they’re given so little to work with here and it makes them ultimately forgettable. It’s every group of people from every Paranormal Activity movie making the same stupid decisions, and staying around well after it’s time to go.

The other serious issue that this movie has is the way it’s shot and the way it’s edited. There’s a set up of found-footage, with the characters having a camera rolling at all times to catch ghosts, but it almost immediately breaks in favour of stylish edits and lazy jump scares. There are jump scares that center around a digital zoom up on nothing, and a loud noise. More than once. Seriously. It’s not even haunted-house level spooky, and feels more like one of those pictures that suddenly screams at you when you’re not expecting it. It’s the lowest form of horror, and it almost seems to relish in it.

There are even a couple of moments that seem to indicate a strange time-loop or time-travel, timey-whimey type thing, but by that point in the film I just didn’t care anymore and nothing was going to bring me back. On top of all that, you can also be confident in the fact that this piece of film is “police evidence” and so of course most of them are about to die.

It’s such a shame, but this movie just falls so flat and offers nothing in the way of originality, or genuinely interesting content. In a genre that is almost as saturated and uninteresting as zombie films, it maybe shouldn’t be a surprise, but this is the kind of lowest-common-denominator stuff that justifies people actively not watching a movie just because it’s found-footage.

A waste of resources and a waste of everyone’s time. What a shame.

MY RATING: *

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