Even someone who loves found footage horror has to admit that it’s the black licorice of the genre. It’s an acquired taste that most find repulsive, but if you like it, you almost make a point of celebrating the nastiness. You can make the case that your taste buds are more refined, maybe, but ultimately it’s still pretty gross. So when an amatuer film crew gets lost in the woods and spends 30 solid minutes bickering with one another, you may not mind that flavor, but you have to admit that it’s difficult to swallow in large quantities. So it goes…
Hangar 10 is about three people going into the woods with cameras and meeting a disastrous end. This time, they’re fishing around the Rendlesham Forest in England with metal detectors, hoping to find something valuable. They’re filming everything for a YouTube video, which seems excessive, but the cameraman, Jake (Danny Shayler) has an interest in the site’s history, which involves an infamous UFO encounter from 1980. That doesn’t quite explain why he agrees to go deep into the woods with no provisions to speak of (other than plenty of batteries and SD cards, naturally) or why he films the endless arguing in which all three parties engage, but hey…I forgot what we were talking about.
This is by no means a bad film, but it’s utterly pointless in the 15-year-shadow of The Blair Witch. Setting any film like this in the woods is inviting possibly unfair comparisons, but when your first act includes an inventory of the equipment and allusions to the history of the place amidst light-hearted horseshit that’s meant to endear you to the characters, the comparisons start to seem a little less unfair. When your second act involves the group coming back to where they thought their campsite would be, only to find themselves lost and bickering, you have to wonder if they’re not openly inviting it. I’m not going to say where the third act takes us, but you can probably guess.
Of the many gradients on this scale, Hangar 10 is still a lot glossier than most. Watch enough of these and you’ll notice that not all cheap movies look and feel the same. Even in this world, The Asylum can still manage to make a knock-off feel like just that. But despite the tediousness, this is a well put together package with a mixed-bag of visuals that work best when relying on the inherent spookiness of their locations. It’s safe to assume that there are some UFO encounters here and I’m sorry to say that none of them worked particularly well. Kudos to the crew that put them together for whatever money and resources they had available, but less would have been way more in this case. The best shot has a character approaching the titular hangar as fog swirls waist deep around her. It’s gorgeous and mysterious and the movie could have used quite a bit more like it. Nothing else engenders the eeriness of that moment and sadly none of the other scares hit the mark. When your horror movie isn’t scary, it’s easy to ask what the point of the exercise was. There’s a decent enough FX showreel here, but it’s Monopoly money stuffed into a wad of real cash. Not that the spell was working particularly well, but it’s broken by the distraction.
Director Daniel Simpson hasn’t set the genre back by any means, but detractors who only see these movies as shakily-filmed nonsense full of people shouting at one another in the woods are going to have another film to cite in their case against it.
Hangar 10 is available on VOD this Friday from IFC Midnight.