ATROCIOUS (2011) Review

Directed by: Fernando Barreda Luna
Starring: Cristian Valencia, Clara Moraleda, Chus Pereiro

Another found-footage horror in the vein of Blair Witch, Paranormal Activity, REC etc. So if you don't enjoy the prospect of shaky camera work and sometimes dodgy audio and video, then you might want to stay away from this one. If you do enjoy the aforementioned films, then go ahead and watch this and I'm sure you will enjoy it.
Like the majority of these handheld / found-footage movies, ATROCIOUS has been made to seem as though it is based on real events. A family in Spain was supposedly found brutally murdered in strange circumstances, and a pair of video cameras were found with around 37 hours of footage on them. Of course none of this really happened, but it does make for a good story.

Cristian and July are siblings and as they mention at the start of the movie, they investigate paranormal phenomena. Their parents are taking them, along with their younger brother Jose to a house they own in Citges for a week long vacation. The children aren't too excited, but at least this will give them an opportunity to investigate a local legend. A young woman went missing in the Garraf woods behind the house where Cristian and July will be staying. The legend goes that if you get lost in the woods, the ghost of the missing woman will show you the way out. When they arrive at the house, the brother and sister discover a large gate which leads to a huge hedge maze, which forms a part of the Garraf woods. They slip through the gate and begin filming, but don't find anything interesting so they head back to the house.
The next day things begin to get strange when their dog goes missing. Cristian and July once more explore the maze and find a trail of blood. This leads them to a well, at the bottom of which lies their dead dog. Someone or something has killed it before dumping it down the well. The kids are pretty freaked out by now, but decide not to tell their mother or Jose until the morning.
But later that night their mother bursts into their room and tells them that Jose is missing. They assume that he has gone looking for the dog, and so they all run into the maze in the dead of night and of course they end up getting separated. It's not until Cristian finds his sister tied up and bleeding that he realizes that things are starting to get really fucked up and dangerous. But the worst is yet to come.

I really enjoyed this. I would much rather watch ATROCIOUS than a lot of other found-footage films that are out. I thought it was a hell of a lot more entertaining than Paranormal Activity, but not quite as much as REC. In fact I would probably put it on par with something like The Tunnel. Although the way it was made did make it seem a whole lot more realistic than either of these films. The acting was perfect, from the siblings' playful first trip through the maze to Cristian's frightened whimpering when he is lost and alone in the darkness. The camera work was at times very shaky (as was the audio), but that only helped to add to the realism. I think the best part of the film was the way it tries to distract you from what is really happening. It fooled me. Right up to the time it ended I had no idea what was going to happen, and the final scenes were a real unexpected shock. ATROCIOUS is a very accomplished entry in the found-footage genre and is definitely worth checking out.
And I should probably mention that the film's spoken language is Spanish, so if you don't like dealing with subtitles then you are really missing out.

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