The Glenarma Tapes (2023) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

The Glenarma Tapes (2023) Review

Horrorific content by angie on September 13th, 2023 | Movie Review | Survival, Wilderness, Madness, Thriller, Mystery, College, Isolation, Found Footage, Folk Horror, B-Horror

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It's about five art students and two lecturers who go missing in a remote forest in Ireland, and whose horrific fight for survival in the cold darkness of Glenarma Forest is recorded and then later recovered by police two years later.

The Glenarma Tapes was directed by Tony Devlin and stars Warren McCookEmily LameyRyan EarlySophie HillColette Lennon DougalCharlie BonnerGerard Jordan (The Intruder), and Richard Croxford.

The Glenarma Tapes Review

"The Glenarma Tapes," a 2023 Northern Irish found footage horror film directed by Tony Devlin with additional writing by Paul Kennedy, offers a fresh take on the genre despite some missed opportunities and tonal inconsistencies.

The film opens with a premise that immediately piques the viewer's curiosity. In Spring 2020, five art students and two faculty members from the Mid Ulster College of Art went missing in a remote forest on the coast of Northern Ireland. The circumstances surrounding their disappearance have remained a mystery until now.

While "The Glenarma Tapes" presents itself as a found footage film, it distinguishes itself from the typical conventions of the genre. Instead of relying on the usual shaky and grainy visuals associated with found footage, the film embraces modern technology and employs steadier camera work. This departure from the norm is a welcome change, demonstrating an evolving understanding of how to capture compelling found footage shots.

Its commitment to efficient storytelling truly sets "The Glenarma Tapes" apart. Unlike many found footage films that meander through unnecessary diversions, this film maintains a tight narrative. Every moment serves a purpose, and the pacing keeps the audience engaged throughout its 96-minute runtime. The characters feel authentic, and their on-screen presence adds depth to the story.

The plot initially follows the familiar trope of people getting lost in the woods, a recurring theme in the found footage genre. However, the film transcends this cliché by delving into a comprehensive day-long forest exploration. It quickly introduces a plot twist that doesn't linger but propels the story into a frenzy of action, amusement, and bewildering madness. This sequence keeps viewers on the edge of their seats, although the abundance of on-screen action can occasionally make it challenging to distinguish between characters.

The subsequent investigation into the disappearances adds an intriguing layer to the narrative. It highlights how political factors can influence individuals seeking justice, adding a layer of frustration to the story. While some segments, like the live interview, may fall flat, other complementary scenes offset them. However, the ultimate twist in the film's concluding moments is undeniably unsettling, exuding an eerie realism that leaves a lasting impact.

Despite its strengths, "The Glenarma Tapes" does have its shortcomings. The film occasionally shifts abruptly from a third-person mockumentary style to a more personal one, which only sometimes aligns with the cohesive nature of the found footage medium. This inconsistency in tone and style detracts from the overall authenticity of the film.

One of the film's notable missteps is its overuse of homage videos paired with synchronized inspirational music and overly picturesque shots reminiscent of music videos. These elements disrupt the immersion and authenticity of the found footage format, diminishing its believability.

Ultimately, "The Glenarma Tapes" is a commendable debut for director Tony Devlin. While it may not fully commit to the found footage genre and occasionally struggles with tonal consistency, it delivers an engaging and surprising narrative. The film's twists and turns and its commitment to efficient storytelling make it a notable addition to the evolving landscape of found footage filmmaking.

Worth Watching?

Devlin's inaugural film, "The Glenarma Tapes" shows promise for his future endeavors. Exploring urban legends, as demonstrated in this folklore-themed production, could be a fruitful direction for his future projects. This film's ability to captivate viewers with local mysteries and surprises is a testament to its potential and the emerging talent behind it.

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