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Mini Scum: End of Watch (2012)

End of WatchIf you ever wondered if the ‘found footage’ genre would graduate from horror into loftier pursuits (Chronicle notwithstanding), End of Watch might be the film for you. At least, sort of. I was sold on a gritty cop film starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña with the aforementioned style but the end result was less than impressive. Imagine COPS: The Movie with attractive actors, love interests, and a big bad in the form of a very shallow drug kingpin and you have the idea.

Gyllenhaal and Pena are two almost-rogue LA cops who manage to get entangled into more shootouts and busts than Riggs and Murtaugh with even more chatty banter but less characterization. As a result of them sticking their noses into a drug war, the two are (eventually) drawn into the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles that permeates almost every other film by David Ayer. Like the “found footage” angle that is more easily explained by having an invisible cameraman, the film suffers from having goals too lofty for what the rather trite material allows as it tries to explore deep and troubling issues in an urban area but is sabotaged by the hollow characters and sheer predictability.

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8 comments

  1. While most people are aware of the popular films in the genre that include ‘Paranormal Activity’, ‘Blair Witch’ and ‘The Last Exorcism’ among others, I’m not here to list that. Hell, I’m not even here to list some of the less famous but excellent ones like ‘Rec’ (which you must watch). After months of hunting down and watching countless bad to good movies that the found-footage sub-genre has to offer, I bring you the 10 most obscure gems that you’ve most likely never seen. If you thought ‘Paranormal Activity’ was scary, wait till you see what other low-budget indies do with the format. Get ready for sleepless nights.

  2. Sinister, which opens wide on Oct. 12, has a perfect 100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of this posting. Granted, it’s early still, and only 20 reviews are in (notorious horror hater Roger Ebert has yet to weigh in), but the film is inspiring gushing notices. There’s no question that Scott Derrickson’s film is among the best horror films of the year, but that is faint praise because it’s been a really shitty year for the genre.

  3. That’s exactly the premise for Chronicle , a film combining two very popular contemporary cinema subgenres, the “found footage” and “superhero” genres, while attempting to put a fresh spin on both of them. And it’s a flying success.

  4. That’s exactly the premise for Chronicle , a film combining two very popular contemporary cinema subgenres, the “found footage” and “superhero” genres, while attempting to put a fresh spin on both of them. And it’s a flying success.

  5. These tensions were further heightened by unscrupulous payment practices. Yorke’s first payment for the film came in the form of Colombian pesos and was less than what had been agreed upon. Yorke refused to continue shooting until he was paid fairly in United States dollars . The native extras also went unpaid for their work despite their involvement in numerous dangerous scenes, including a scene in which they were forced to stay inside a burning hut for a prolonged period of time.

  6. These tensions were further heightened by unscrupulous payment practices. Yorke’s first payment for the film came in the form of Colombian pesos and was less than what had been agreed upon. Yorke refused to continue shooting until he was paid fairly in United States dollars . The native extras also went unpaid for their work despite their involvement in numerous dangerous scenes, including a scene in which they were forced to stay inside a burning hut for a prolonged period of time.

  7. The whole thing is made all the more farcical when we are finally properly introduced to the film’s Dr. Frankenstein, again by the soldiers stumbling in. His workspace includes a painting of his illustrious grandfather and a woman’s head sewed to a teddy bear’s body that the credits reveal to be that of Frankenstein’s mother. Frankenstein goes on to regale us with his perverse experiments, sounding like a mash-up of Wikipedia entries on various early 20th-century European serial killers – experimenting on animals and some pedestrian Freudian psychology. Although, it is never fully explained why his monsters look mostly like demented Tin Man/Jason Voorhees hybrids, but that’s where the “found footage” comes in handy as an excuse. This combined with the vague anti-Stalinist sentiments makes the whole film feel like a 12 year-old boy falling asleep during history and psychology class and later trying to make up for it in filmmaking and “arts and crafts.” The gore was laughable and the script was blood curdling, shouldn’t it be the other way around?

  8. All in all V/H/S/2 is better than V/H/S in that it tries to go for scares instead of “fun”. The third short clearly stands out as the best, but for a die-hard found footage fanatic like myself there’s some enjoyment and entertainment value in every short. It’s also better than the first V/H/S, because there’s less, but longer segments which allows for the story to be more fully developed. Presenting four different sub-genres is a smart move: The film is never repetitive and there’s a little something to be appreciated for everyone.

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