I suppose with the juggling of Apollo 18's release date in the last few months that it was inevitable that another alien-based found footage horror flick would have time to fill in the gap. After all, that is the studio-perceived benefit for this style of filmmaking: they're cheap and fast. The new contender, 051: Confidential, is still in filming, but it has a projected release date of sometime this fall, which puts it in the exact right place to compete with Apollo 18 and its August 26th release date.
The style worked well for The Blair Witch Project and the much more grandiose Cloverfield, but it's been done wrong more often than not. Hit the jump for a summary of 051, the trailer, and our thoughts on why we're lukewarm on this concept.
Here's the official synopsis:
The "found footage" science fiction horror film follows the events that befell a group of individuals in August 2001 who awoke to find themselves all stranded in a desolate area surrounding the military base known as "Area 51". That footage was later allegedly used in a Military Training video for new hires at the facility. As they explore the landscape, attempting to find a way - ANY way - back to civilization, all outgoing transmissions "blocked" and all electrical equipment mysteriously malfunctioning, they come into contact with a mysterious Army Colonel who claims to have survived a "massacre" by extraterrestrials as well as a man named "Lazar", who claims to have been a former employee of Area 51 and had disappeared years prior...
The novelty of this concept has long worn off, so if a film is still going to go the "found footage" route, it actually has to have something good going for it, whether it be the story or a few really good scares. Paranormal Activity has its niche carved out and proved that there's still room for the genre in the average moviegoers diet, but then you have a film like The Fourth Kind which could turn you off to the concept all together.
When measured against Apollo 18's much crisper and steady style, I can't help but hope, for 051's sake that the shakiness of that trailer's footage is purely so they don't give away too much too soon. If that's par for the course and the rest of the film is that shaky, I think it'll be annoying. What little of the footage we see in the trailer is so shaky it's already annoying. "Found footage" isn't an excuse for crappy filmmaking; the level of shakiness going on in that trailer is way too over the top. Especially in an age where most digital cameras have slight shake correction built in.
Oh, and can we take a moment to laugh at how the obligatory "my cellphone isn't working scene" is all but guaranteed by the "all outgoing transmissions "blocked" and all electrical equipment mysteriously malfunctioning" line in the summary? Oy.