A long, long time ago, in the early-'90s, a cult classic horror movie caught everyone off guard and ended up making Tony Todd a horror staple. Candyman, directed by Bernard Rose and based off a Clive Barker short story, was a critical and financial success. And then…Bernard Rose didn’t really do too much. He made a couple of historical films, a gothic horror-esque movie, but the man who was praised for his work with this now classic genre film stayed away from the genre. Now, he’s back with SX_Tape.
SX_Tape is pretty much exactly what you would guess. It is a found footage movie that has an entire plot centered around a sex tape. It was only a matter of time until this idea found footing in the genre, specifically this sub-genre, and whereas Lucky Bastard (which I also reviewed) tackled the subject in a slasher style, SX_Tape attempts to do so from the paranormal side.
Adam and Jill are fairly new to their relationship, Jill is an artist in Los Angeles and Adam seems to be an aspiring filmmaker and firmly attached to his camera. After a solid thirty minutes of Adam convincing Jill (Caitlyn Folley) to film a sex tape (and filming several sexcapades as well) they eventually break into an old mental hospital. You know, like normal people do. After exploring the place and making love, Jill and Adam become uneasy with the place. They leave only to find Jill’s car being towed which leads to Jill’s best friend and her extremely terrible boyfriend coming to pick them up. They then head back into the asylum and things escalate.
This movie is full of annoyances. I honestly don’t know where to start. I suppose the beginning is as good as any. The first half hour has Adam talking Jill into a sex tape, something she insists she has never done. She eventually caves and then immediately after turns into some sort of sex tape maniac. She wants to film in dressing rooms, public parking lots and eventually the insane asylum. I get it. That’s the hook. It’s about a sex tape. But the transition is unsettlingly fast and it plays out real quick.
Next is the actual amount of horror. This is nothing we haven’t seen before. This is Grave Encounters meets Paranormal Activity meets "Skinemax." We get one ghost, who is never frightening or even particularly ghoulish looking, and a plot that tries to tie itself in a neat little bow but ends up diluting an otherwise very simple story. There are a lot of strange noises and static camera shots but nothing new or even well done. The characters are utterly unlikable. Everyone just seems kind of dirty and stupid, especially Jill’s best friend and her boyfriend. He may be the biggest douchebag (yeah, never used that word in a review before) I have ever seen in film.
While Bernard manages to create an atmosphere that could be conducive to good and solid scares, it goes to waste with a low budget and bad screenplay. If this was your first introduction to the found footage genre there just might be enough skin and enough jump scares to keep you entertained. But for anyone else? This is third rate Netflix fodder.