POV horror is certainly all the rage these days, and whilst there has never been a better time to jump on the bandwagon, it is certainly no mean feat to come up with something original in a sub-genre of horror whose creativity is severely hampered by the very thing which gives it its definition. Atrocious, whilst certainly not as bad as its name suggests, attempts to push the genres limits by throwing in some twists in the tale of what should have been a fairly standard ghost hunting affair.
To begin with the plot is a similar story, and for the most part, any fans of ‘Last Exorcism’ or ‘paranormal activity’ will feel right at home with the whole ‘investigators of the paranormal’ setup. In ‘Atrocious’ a brother sister team are going to make the best of a boring situation and investigate the mystery of the girl in white, a spectral being who is said to haunt a garden maze in the grounds of the stately home they are to visit on holiday. Cameras in hands we are introduced to the characters over a 30 minute intro until finally the inevitable happens; the sun sets, the lights go out and my pap-hole widened.
It is customary with these films to provide you with ample bedding in time, after all they are safe in the knowledge that you (the viewer) know that when it goes dark and quiet the time is right for the theatrical equivalent of the scary maze game to happen; loud noise and something popping up right on the screen! Atrocious holds the tension well and the extended night time scenes really do pack a punch. There is a decent combination of shaky cam, but not too much, and whilst it was dark you could still make out the nice little touches they wanted you too; for example silhouettes in the bushes of said young girl. This on and off fiasco keeps the pace flowing well and when you consider the movie clocks in at a mere 76 minutes I thought we were dealing with a fairly safe 4/5.
Sadly though things didn’t continue in this vein...
I guess, as I said in my opening paragraph, to try to ensure some sort of originality someone has to take the gamble and try to inject some twist type scenario into their POV movie. The ‘Last Exorcism’ introduced some crazy right-angle ending, and whilst it was pretty lame, it did have some degree of continuity with the characters actions and plight. Sadly the ending in Atrocious just tries that little bit too hard and comes off as something of a poor cop out. It’s a shame really; it genuinely felt like it was building to something memorable.
Overall, if you are the sort of person for which the journey is more important that the destination then there is a lot to like about ‘Atrocious’. At its peak it is as nerve shredding and suspenseful as any of the more popular POV horrors to saturate our theatres recently, and on this merit it should be given a chance. However, if like me, substance has to prevail over the gimmick, then whilst it had the watch out of me, it will be the only one it gets.