Based on the basis that he used in his first act, I really thought that Malibu Horror Story was a complete twist on the horror subgenre commonly known as “found footage”. When the movie landed on the basis of what it really is, it gave me a sour taste in my mouth. Fortunately, I immediately realized that I was wrong. It’s not that horror has to be smarter. It happens that sometimes it is necessary to give enough depth to a background to support a smaller normal film. In this little horror movie, such a scenario is much more important than the result. And as personal as horror movies are to me, I really appreciate it.
What background do you like to ask? Malibu Horror Story is many things at once. It’s a feature film about researchers who go to a mountain to make a documentary about a group of men who disappeared years ago. They are ready to use a device and find evidence of supernatural beings that the authorities have not wanted to recognize over the years.
It’s also the mockumentary itself. The one you are actively shooting at the moment. And it’s a found footage horror movie based on the story of the not found young people, who, of course, filmed everything. Needless to say, there are no spoilers here. I just want to highlight the ingenious screenwriting device that debutant Scott Slone uses in his feature film. If you are not sure what works, try everything.
Not that the Malibu horror story is going to be a disaster. Far from it. It is only the found footage that is as convenient as it is difficult to perform effectively, it is a little worn. There aren’t many surprises for what you can do, and that’s okay. Slone does what is expected of him and makes an effective horror movie with lots of jump scares and a sharp enough score to make the ears ring. But he also makes sure that his film has weight in his story. Things happen for a reason, and that reason is interesting enough to make Malibu Horror Story a great movie for me. Not all horror filmmakers offer this and I really celebrate those who do.
This is not to say that Malibu Horror Story does not live up to expectations. Even big studio movies are often shot under the equation that they can look like any other movie. Malibu Horror Story has a lot of that too. There is nightmare fuel here in the form of practical effects and twists that will satisfy horror fans. And like other found footage movies, the introduction is bleak enough to make some characters “deserve” their fate. Today’s partygoers and horror junkies are the equivalent of the characters who go to bed in the horror of the 80s.
This brings us to the eternal discussion of why horror movie characters do what they do. Some people question this and claim that it is the reason why the genre is often silly. In Malibu Horror Story there are foolishs who go to the camp where they shouldn’t, but they are subordinate to the central characters, whom they investigate. Your story is stronger, but are you credible? Who brings alcohol when you’re investigating an ancient entity?
Malibu Horror Story also complies with the silly characters rule, but that’s exactly what we want in horror. This is not a life-changing genre movie and he doesn’t want to be either. This is a funny and scary horror that makes you jump every now and then and, why not, gives you nightmares.
Yes, it is also a horror movie, the plot basis of which is solid. Enough for me.