Searching for a missing student, two private investigators break into his house and find collection of VHS tapes. Viewing the horrific contents of each cassette, they realize there may be dark motives behind the student's disappearance.
Two best friends see their trip of a lifetime take a dark turn when one of them is struck by a mysterious affliction. Now, in a foreign land, they race to uncover the source before it consumes him completely.
The journalist Patrick works at the VICE, a company dedicated to cover bizarre news. When his sister Caroline joins a community, she travels abroad with her new family. Out of the blue, Caroline invites her brother to visit her in an undefined country and Patrick travels by helicopter with his friends Jake and Sam that work with him at VICE. They find weird that the men that have come to guide them to the Eden Parish have guns. On the arrival to the camp, Patrick, Sam and Jake find a community of happy people that worship Father. They interview Father but soon they realize that people are not as happy as they seem to be. Further, they find that they are trapped in the Parish Eden and they want to leave the place with the newcomers. But the Father does not have intention to let them go.
The film borrows heavily from the real life Jonestown Massacre, where on November 18, 1978 the so-called Peoples Temple cult leader, Rev. Jim Jones convinced his 900 or more followers, who were living in an isolated South American jungle community in the country of Guyana, to commit mass suicide by drinking cyanide-laced Flavor Aid once he felt that the commune would no longer stay isolated, just like in the film. Other similarities to the real life event include people being shot/injected when they would not drink the poison willingly, Father wearing Jim Jones' trademark sunglasses, people quietly sneaking notes to outsiders that they wanted to leave, and a shooting at an airstrip. See more »
We were doing something great down here. We were gonna change the world. This was only the beginning. Why couldn't you leave us alone? What harm were we doing down here?
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This is basically a re-telling of the Jonestown Massacre, which, if anyone doesn't know, is a real event that happened in the late 1970's, when a megalomaniac by the name of Jim Jones brought several hundred members of a religious group called the People's Temple to a remote jungle location in Guyana.
After a small cadre of politicians arrived by a small private plane to respond to several requests from disillusioned members of the congregation, there suddenly was a desperate stampede by a number of the group to leave the compound. Jim Jones then ordered the guards to shoot the members who were attempting to leave, and gave the entire crowd each a cup of kool-aid laced with cyanide in a mass suicide.
The event was forgotten for many years, and has been dramatized in this film, which takes the original story and hams it up for the camera, by taking the stance of a "reality" show approach to the filming.
Unfortunately, the experiment fails to generate the sense of reality that the filmmakers were attempting to capture, and the feeling is much more forced rather than coming from a real event. Although it was a reasonably noble attempt to make a notorious situation somehow believable, by it's very nature, it is doomed. It would have been much more believable if the film were just shot as a normal film would be, without the extra layer of a "found footage" project.
Since the camera is always supposed to be running, there are moments in the film in which the actors have to look directly into the lens and explain that the camera is going to keep running "so that there is a record of whatever happens," which completely destroys any sense of the reality of the moment -- the idea of deliberately having a camera in someone's hand in each scene is so unbearably false that the viewer is immediately left wondering why on earth they even thought this technique would help to make the story seem "real." In fact, it does the exact opposite.
The use of the hand-held 'shaky cam' in almost every scene is utterly unmotivated -- in what would be the climax of the movie, the camera is so ridiculously present that it almost seems like SNL decided to take the idea and turn it into one of Andy Samberg's sarcastic short films, because they have used such a heavy-handed approach to the material.
In telling the story of Jonestown, nothing would have been needed other than to have just told the story as it unfolded without the addition of this added layer of "reality" -- and it would have been a much more superior film. This, sadly, destroys any chance of that happening.
The story of the People's Temple deserves better treatment than this, and, given a more experienced filmmaker, would have had a much deeper impact. I regret that we have lost that opportunity now, having seen this approach fail.
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