Year Released: 2014
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 96 minutes
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Mighty Casey (Scott Higgins) has just turned 18, and he’s decided to move into a house with a bunch of like-minded friends, in a sort of communal living environment. From his twitchy best friend Tadpole (Josh Gilmore) to the militant Preacher Boy (Yasmine Al-Bustami) and the guru-like Brick (Jason Skeen), the house is full of a wide variety of unique personalities. Maybe too unique for the small Texas town they’re living in, as the group is beset upon by neighbors and a greater community that doesn’t like what they don’t know.
To make things worse, we learn all of this as we look back at the “found footage” of Casey’s video journal, as the group has long since disappeared under mysterious, and seemingly violent, circumstances. Police are investigating the disappearance, interviewing those who may be able to offer insight into what may have happened, even as the tape tells its strange story. A strange story that includes Casey’s occasional talents for telekinesis, among other things.
The Tribe of M15-F1T5 is the type of film that throws a lot at the wall and hopes that something entertaining or intriguing will stick. The found footage aspect is set up to offer an unfiltered view of this unique group of people, and thus you get a bit of everything. But for all the occasional telekinesis or other dramatic developments, the film is still too good at feeling like a home movie, resulting in an often tedious viewing experience.
Maybe it’s because the film casts its net too wide. By trying to cover so many characters, the film loses the intimacy it might otherwise have developed, say, had it truly stuck with being just Casey’s video journal as opposed to morphing into an overall document of the commune activities and inhabitants. Instead of really getting to know any single person well, we’re asked to embrace the entire group. There’s a logic there that fits with the entire communal idea, so I get the choice, but it also makes it difficult to engage on an individual level; the emotional connection and impact is lessened as it is spread out.
While the film does attempt to do more than just present found footage, by offering black and white stylized police interviews throughout to offer an air of mystery about the video journal as it plays out, the technique also serves to raise expectations, and a sense of suspense, that the film ultimately never justifies. Even the film’s exploration of paranormal elements, such as telekinesis or telepathy, beg for more attention than they’re given. Again, potentially a product of aiming too wide; focusing in might have allowed everything to hit with more power.
While we’re on the topic of the paranormal elements, while they do play a major part in the film’s resolution, I don’t know that they are necessary otherwise. Aside from the climax, and Casey’s sports prospects, the rest of the tale wouldn’t change that much without them. So why did this film feel the need to go this route?
Because it feels like the actual story here is thin, and thus numerous elements were thrown in to distract away from that point. Telekinesis adds a layer of interest, police interviews add a layer of mystery, but the footage itself is pretty uninteresting. It’s just a group of young people who feel outside of the societal norms, want to make their own way, and want to exist without being persecuted. And that’s fine, but not always compelling.
On the technical side, as a predominantly home video-styled film, it often looks and sounds just like that. There are instances of effects-work, such as when Casey’s telekinesis is involved, but it’s pretty lo-fi and straightforward otherwise. Nothing to write home about, it is as it presents itself.
Ultimately, I found The Tribe of M15-F1T5 to be a film with the potential for a truly engaging experience that never delivers. If you don’t care about anyone on screen, it’s hard to care about what’s happening. And while the film seems to show that much has happened, it never feels that way. It just feels like a home movie. That’s by design, of course, so it succeeds there, but I don’t think that choice did the film any favors.
This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.
Posted on December 28, 2013 in Reviews by Mark Bell
If you liked this article then you may also like the following Film Threat articles:
- PARAPSYCHOLOGY 101
- SEVERED FOOTAGE
- NEW FOUND FOOTAGE COMES TO LOS ANGELES
- BEWARE THE AFTER DARK TRIBE
- RISE ABOVE: THE TRIBE 8 DOCUMENTARY (DVD)
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