It’s hard to believe that it’s been just over ten years since The Blair Witch Project hit theatres and sparked the whole “found footage” thing. It isn’t hard to believe that it didn’t take long for Hollywood to ruin things with a rushed sequel, but that’s another story. Nowadays, we have Paranormal Activity and its sequels picking up the slack left by Blair Witch, as well as the ever-present independent horror scene, which has had its fair share of copycat films as well as a few that try to switch things up. James Weatherall’s The Legend Of The 5ive is one such film that combines the found footage style of Blair Witch and melds it with the reality TV/documentary style of something like Ghosthunters or, in Weatherall’s case, his native UK’s Most Haunted.
The story has documentary filmmaker and skeptic Julia Marsh (Lennah Seelig) teaming up with Greg Connell (Greg Tanner) and his team of ghosthunters called ‘Paranormal Investigations Inc.’ for their live Halloween special. Julia was roped into this event by her friend Joe Weaverly (Emma Kendrick), who is also a member of Greg’s team. This particular special focuses on a remote English farm. Their objective is to uncover the truth behind the legend of the ‘Screaming Spectres of Emerson farm’, known locally as ‘The 5ive’. Apparently, 300 years ago, five strangers were found sliced up on the farmland and their bodies arranged in a pentagram. It’s said that the strangers’ ghosts are sometimes seen on the farmland, screaming and running from whoever/whatever killed them. Needless to say, after setting up shop and conducting a short séance to get things moving, the crew end up over their heads.
I suppose one thing that The Legend Of The 5ive has going for it is the look of the film. Being in the countryside late at night, away from civilization and any way to reach anyone is definite scare material. Even with floodlights keeping their immediate surroundings lit, the darkness beyond still holds that fear of the unknown, which also ups the potential for creepy stuff. Another aspect of the film that’s nice is the camerawork. There’s not the frantic shakycam stuff that has plagued a lot of these types of films, but it’s still realistic enough that, for example, when folks are running, it’s not like everything was filmed with a steadycam. Add to that some interesting shots from cameras monitoring specific points on the property and good editing, you’d think that it was the start of something good. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
Have you ever watched a film that was a chore to sit trough, regardless of the running time? The Legend Of The 5ive is one of those films. It’s been a while since I’ve been privy to seeing a film that dragged on for what seemed like forever with nothing happening, but that’s what this film is about. Even after 30 minutes into the film, there was barely anything to hold my interest. And when things finally did start to happen (like the spirit of one of the five being on one of the investigators’ backs after being summoned), it was either the acting or the script that killed whatever tension there was, and had me itching to fast forward. Seriously, when confronted by a potential spirit, what do they do to try and communicate with it? Why, try to piss it off! Because that always works in diplomacy, right?
Speaking of the acting, it fell into either being overdramatic to the point of practically being hammy, or to being in amateur hour territory. No matter the situation, Lennah Seelig would always sound like she was acting, taking dramatic pauses or speaking in such a way that came off as anything but natural. Greg Tanner is much the same way, in one instance being as subdued as possible while supposedly trying to act excited about seeing something (in the pitch black woods) making a “peeping motion”. Fortunately, he wasn’t like this throughout the film. Instead, the script took over and made his character into an idiot. Damien Hale’s hysterics had me wanting to backhand the next person with an emo haircut. Unfortunately, he didn’t die in the most horrible way possible.
Also, what does it say when something bad happens to one of the characters, your first reaction is to laugh? Yeah…
As a whole, the film feels less like Blair Witch Project and more like a low budget version of Ghosthunters minus any real tension or excitement. The film took forever to get going, and once it did, there was hardly anything to keep my interest. None of the acting feels genuine, and none of the scares are noteworthy. You’re better off seeing the film that was the source of The Legend Of The 5ive‘s inspiration — The Blair Witch Project — and leave The Legend Of The 5ive in the dark.