Tape 407 (2012)
Planes are a safe way to travel. That’s a fact. Much safer than cars or bikes or skateboarding. Yet if you lived your life believing what you saw in films, then you’re pretty much guaranteed 50% of any flights you get onto will crash. Yet it’s not the crashing that’s the bad part – it’s the surviving.
From Alive to Lost to Final Destination to The Grey to Tape 407, when a plane crashes you’ll often regret not exploding on impact. In fact, even if you’re not ON the plane, it’s typical a plane crash will pretty much ruin your day (see The Crazies and the recent Brit-horror Storage 24, for example).
In Tape 407 we’re thrust into a 747 alongside a smattering of people, taking a trip from New York to Los Angeles on New Year’s Eve. Unfortunately they don’t quite make it home in time for New Year’s lunch as a spot of ‘turbulence’ and an unexplained bright light sends the plane crashing into the middle of America.
The survivors find themselves in a wasteland with nothing around them… and strange noises in the darkness. When one of the survivors is attacked by a ‘creature’ they quickly realize their ordeal is not quite over.
Tape 407 goes down the found footage route, which means you’ll have to cope with some sea-sick camera movements and that constant niggling feeling which tells you every single person is going to die by the end of it all. There are also a few ‘why are you still filming this?!’ moments, but if you can get past all this then you might be pleasantly surprised.
One important element of any found footage film (and any film!) is having convincing characters, acted well. Luckily Tape 407 is blessed with a group of decent actors and some interesting characterisations. ‘Lucky’ because the script and direction is not massively inspired, producing almost no scares at all. The limited budget shows for the majority of the film, but the quality of pace and character-work excels and stops this from being just another ‘shitty low-budget horror’.
The character of Charlie (played excellently by Brendan Patrick Connor) is the highlight of the film, being an overbearing prick that you gradually warm to, and this change in character perception is very subtly delivered. In fact, ‘subtle’ would be a good way to describe Tape 407 for the most part. The extended opening on the plane plays out believably and affably, whilst the insane horror that follows arrives with darkness, suggestion and mad panic. This good work, however, is all completely and utterly destroyed by the ending…
I have never seen a movie that’s been so fantastically ruined by the final shot; literally the final two seconds of Tape 407 kills any class, believability and intrigue that was built up in the ninety minutes preceding it. It’s the ‘reveal’ and it was a woeful decision to leave it in – how it got past the test screening stage is beyond me.
Overall Tape 407 delivers an intriguing and exceptionally well acted thrill-ride through some well-trod territory. Despite its flaws and the bloody awful ending, Tape 407 an enjoyable watch.