WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
It’s movies like this that make you lose faith in the whole premise of film making. I mean, you want to believe that film makers are trying their best to put out high quality, original movies, and then this rather blatant Saw ripoff comes along and makes you question everything. Yeah, we all know that none of that’s true, but Elimination isn’t even subtle in what it’s trying to piggy back on. Granted, it has some of the cheapest CGI I’ve ever seen in a film and each and every actor could’ve easily been outperformed by a paperclip (which unintentionally gives it its entertainment value), but I spent my whole time sitting in front of the TV just waiting for someone to say “I want to play a game.” But I guess this is what you get from a movie that has unnecessary breasts thrown in front of the camera before the 1 minute mark has even been passed.
As I’m sure we’re all painfully aware, we live in the age of reality television, and the Good Lord knows that they’ll stick a camera in front of anyone and follow them around. Everyone wants to be famous, right? Well, so does our bunch of generic clichés (and there’s a lot of them – latino, latina, jock, bitch blonde, bitch blonde’s caring boyfriend, street thug, smart hot girl in a cardigan etc.). They’re all about to audition for a brand new online reality show called Spotlight. They don’t really know what it’s all about or where it’s being filmed, but there’s a $1 million dollar prize at the end of it for the winner, so I suppose the finer details might not be at the forefront of their tiny minds.
After getting together in a parking lot and meeting one of Spotlight‘s crew members, the gang is bundled into an unmarked van, stripped of their cellphones, drugged, and taken to an unknown location in the middle of the desert. None of them seem to find any of this particularly disconcerting, so they all make their way through to the audition room. Here they meet Jigsa… I mean the Executive Producer… via a live stream. He explains to them that the game they’re about to play might be a tad bit more extreme than they were planning on, and that it may or may not cater to an audience who likes watching snuff but doesn’t want to call it that. You see, Spotlight involves the gang running through various zones in an attempt to make it to the end. They’ll be pursued by a psychotic clown and an Amazonian warrior (who, again, has two breasts) who will try to brutally murder them. Since none of this is entirely above-board the kids can’t really back out on contractual technicalities, so it’s off into the labyrinth of doom for them.
Whilst the pseudo-Amazon and the clown provide some real-life threats, there are also stock dangers like machine guns, giant blades, giant furnaces and oversized food blenders to watch out for. To balance out the rather steep danger curve, the zones also have several hidden immunity statues, granting the holder 15 minutes where the clown and Amazon can’t kill them. Also, if a spotlight appears, anyone who stands in it is also safe from the executioners. But whilst the executioners and the oversized food blender are certainly areas of concern for the group, their greatest threat will be one another. Only one person can make it to the final zone and win the $1 million prize, so every clichéd character is going to underwhelmingly bring out their worst character traits in an attempt to make it out alive. If you’re like me, dear reader, by the time it comes to the final showdown, you too will be rooting for the oversized food blender.
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- It’s never a bad idea to give your cellphone to a creepy old man and climb into his unmarked van.
- Kids these days are incredibly whiny about being drugged and taken places against their will.
- It takes years of Tae Bo training to effectively kick a man in the balls.
- Research indicates that modern killers don’t really concern themselves with their victims’ comfort when building their killing contraptions.
- Rampaging murderers are easily thwarted by an empty cardboard box.
- Even murderers edit their footage to make their shows more dramatic and increase their ratings.
- Even psychotic executioners are part of a union.
- Psychotically deadly situations really bring out some people’s inner narcissist.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
First of all, let it be stated for the record that I was given a screener copy of this movie for review, but that doesn’t mean that I have to say nice things about it. Let me also say that I’m not the biggest fan of found footage movies, purely because they can either turn out spectacularly (eg. the original Blair Witch Project) or as a horrible mess (eg. Cloverfield). Skew manages to pull off the genre quite well, mainly through blending in a number of other genres to keep the storyline going. On the whole it’s a good movie and worth a watch, but it does have a few problems. While it does deliver on the scares they are, at times, a bit few and far between and you have to sit through a lot of mundane dialogue before the next thing happens. The acting tends to come in waves, going from outstanding one minute to nightmarishly amateur the next (and there are only 3 people in the movie, so this is quite something). The main thing that actually does this movie in is not what it was so much as what it could have been: with all that was built up there was SO much more that could have been done with it. Anyways, enough of all that, let’s get on with the story!
Simon, Eva and Richard have been friends for ages and, as good friends do for other good friends, they’re getting ready to go on a little road trip to a friend’s wedding. Simon’s been having issues with his girlfriend Laura so she’s decided not to tag along (you will be reminded of this many times during the movie). Simon’s also a bit of an amateur film maker so he’s decided to record absolutely everything that happens on the road for reasons relating to a damaged childhood that you don’t really want to know about here. The trip starts out nice enough and everyone seems relatively alright with having a camera shoved in their faces for the greater part of the day, but things soon start to become a little weird for our little trio of travelling besties. First they run over a coyote (something that Eva seems to think should be reported to the highest echelons of power in the land), then the desk clerk at the motel they’re staying at is killed. To distract themselves from the terror Richard and Eva take turns filming their very private conversations that Simon mustn’t hear on Simon’s camera.
The trip becomes even stranger as we move on from coyotes to entire bus loads of people, shop owners and policemen dying wherever our little group ventures. To top that crazy, the camera also has this weird way of distorting people’s faces while recording and it has a tendency to show the viewer angry ghosts everywhere. Simon’s starting to get a little freaked out but feels mysteriously drawn to the camera and compelled to continue filming everything. Eva’s beginning to feel uncomfortable with his odd obsession and Richard, as the big strong boyfriend, won’t have someone unsettling his lady, so he starts going off on random angry outbursts that amount to nothing. The fact that they amount to nothing may have something to do with the fact that this guy can’t really pull off a facial expression other than loveable douche, but that’s beside the point.
The group must now make their to the wedding party in the face of Simon’s growing paranoia, a camera that may or may not be a portal to hell and an odd love triangle that doesn’t really go anywhere but serves to help heighten the “tension”.
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- Speedometers are just one of the many modern pieces of technology Jeeps come equipped with.
- Nobody appreciates how hard it is to pee and film at the same time.
- Woman’s intuition gives females the right to interfere in everyone’s business.
- Being 100% sure of something and knowing something are not the same thing.
- Roadkill should be left on the side of the road as carrion. It’s nature’s way.
- In the event of running down a coyote alcoholism can be used as a means of getting over the trauma.
- People should buy video cameras as a way of getting back at their parents for not being amazing photographers.
- Camera smashing is uncalled for and unfair.
- As an exception to the rule atheists are permitted to worship one deity / totem of their choice.