There’s a moment in Candyman director Bernard Rose’s new film Sx_Tape where I thought, “Oh shit, this is going in a direction I didn’t expect!” Within minutes this hope was crushed as the film descended down the same well-worn corridors the found footage genre’s lesser films have been lagging within for years. The genre is still capable of creating good films on occasion (the recent The Den comes to mind), but the lousy ones like this simply lazily borrow from the successful ones. That one interesting inkling of creativity that Sx_Tape teases at makes the rest of the film’s rotten nature all the more frustrating.
Sx_Tape (christ, what an annoying title) follows Adam (Ian Duncan), the petulant, camera-obsessed boyfriend of Jill (Caitlyn Folley), a saucy tart who sees herself as something of an artist. This means that she spends her days shopping in L.A. and screwing Adam. These two assets to society are tramping around one day when they decide to shoot a sex tape inside an abandoned hospital. As a joke, Adam restrains Jill to a bed and pretends to leave. When he bounces, some malevolent spirit in a nightgown (of course) enters Jill.
Okay, this is where I got excited a new direction was afoot. Jill and Adam actually leave the hospital. Her nose is bleeding and she’s obviously pissed about the bed thing. From here I thought Sx_Tape would shift gears and focus on their relationship falling apart as the spirit that’s lurking in Jill slowly takes over (ala Zulawski’s Possession, but cheaper andwith B-actors). There’s a great tension and uncertainty when they first exit the hospital. It suggests that Sx_Tape isn’t going to rely on the standard loud sound jump scares the genre typically uses as a crutch.
Sadly, it does. Jill calls up two of her friends to join them and they head back into the hospital. The four get split up, people die, loud noises are heard, ghosts wear old-timey nightgowns, the usual. This second half of the film is painfully tedious and contains nothing we haven’t seen before in stuff like Grave Encounters and even Paranormal Activity.
Despite its heavy borrowing, Sx_Tape is way less frightening than its predecessors and fails to make butts jump out of seats. It starts off with some promise and even hints at originality in its look at how Jill’s possession destroys their relationship, but ultimately this is another found footage movie to skip.