Atrocious (R15)

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Review byMatthew Turner17/09/2011

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 75 mins

Effectively creepy and impressively atmospheric, this is an enjoyable, well made Spanish horror that demonstrates that there's still life in the found footage format, though it's also slightly let down by a lack of plot, a disappointing ending and a couple of glaring logic problems.

What's it all about?
Directed by Fernando Barreda Luna, Atrocious stars Cristian Valencia and Clara Maraleda as teenage siblings Cristian and July, who make videos investigating urban legends for their website. When their parents (Chus Pereiro and Xavi Dos) drag them and their eight year old brother Jose (Sergi Martin) to their family home near Sitges for a holiday, they're delighted when they discover a local myth about a ghostly young girl haunting a nearby forest and can't wait to investigate.

Despite warnings from their parents, Cristian and July break into the neighbouring property and start exploring a creepy-looking garden labyrinth. Sure enough, strange things start happening and Cristian and July soon wish that they'd listened to their parents.

The Good
The performances are excellent; Valencia and Maraleda make a believeable pair of bickering siblings (and both have a good line in raw terror), while there's strong support from Jose Masegosa as their father's friend, Carlos, who fills them in on the story in the first place. Similarly, as with The Blair Witch Project, the dual camera conceit works well, allowing for switching perspectives between the pair, during the actual horror moments (when they finally come).

Barreda Luna is clearly a believer in the slow build and he does a good job of cranking up the tension while refusing to actually show any real evidence on camera. There are some nice touches too, such as the fact that Cristian keeps coming across the same bench in the labyrinth – it's not really remarked upon, so you're unsure if it means something supernatural is happening or maybe Cristian just has a really bad sense of direction or even if it isn't the same bench every time at all.

The Bad
The main problem is that Barreda Luna slightly overplays his hand, to the point where the running and screaming in the labyrinth eventually becomes repetitive and starts to drag, even within the gloriously short 75 minute running time. Similarly, the plot is extremely weak and there are several niggling logic problems such as “Why on EARTH are you still filming while you're clearly terrified out of your mind?”

In addition, the ending is a bit of a let-down, as Barreda Luna suddenly feels the compulsion to explain everything rather than leave it mysterious and unexplained, Blair Witch-style.

Worth seeing?
Atrocious is an effectively creepy found footage horror that's worth seeing if you like that sort of thing.

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Content updated: 25/05/2019 03:07

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