November 22, 2014

Netflix Review: Mockingbird (2014)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2125685/
We were originally going to pass on reviewing Mockingbird, because it was a really bad movie, and there wasn't going to be a lot that we could say about it that wouldn't seem like we were just bashing it to bash it, you know?

But then we saw a "review" of the movie on a "Horror Site" that praised how great and effective it was, ultimately giving the film a grade of 4 out of 5.

This review began with a disclaimer that basically said "Hey, we're friends with the people who made this movie, but that won't influence our review at all. We promise!" Right.


So at that point, we decided to go ahead and write our review, because it pisses us off when a big site, with a big audience, pimps the sub-par work of their buddies in such a blatantly shady manner. We understand that opinion is subjective, and that one man's masterpiece is another man's tragedy, but we're also objective enough to understand that bad is bad, no matter if we enjoy something or not.

If you want to skip our spoiler-filled review of Mockingbird, there's only a few things that you really need to know about the movie anyhow:

  • It had promise, but it was awful.
  • Blumhouse has had this one sitting on the shelf since 2012 because it's so awful.
  • Bryan Bertino is a much better writer/director than this movie suggests.

That's basically the crux of it. If you'd like to know why we found Mockingbird to be so awful, then by all means, read on. Be aware this review is 100% spoiler-filled, and that reading on will give just about everything away.

Set in 1995, Mockingbird is the story of a group of people drawn into a sinister game by an unknown creep of some sort... who might just be Jigsaw's cousin or something, because he totally uses the "I want to play a game" line with no shame.

You have a husband and wife who are getting ready to enjoy some quality alone time, sans kids; a single woman who lives alone and seems depressed about something; and what may be the biggest loser on the planet, who is desperate for friends, money, and is really annoying in general. So, the perfect cast of victims.

"YOU WANNA FILM WHAT AFTER THE KIDS LEAVE?"
Each of them receives red gift boxes on their doorstep, containing a camera inside. Convinced that they've won some sort of contest that they signed up for, they're all ecstatic until they learn that whoever gave them the cameras has something dark and twisted in mind for them; they all have to film everything going on around them, or else they die! Well, one of them has to dress up like a clown, and run around town doing all sorts of silly errands (that still tie into the plot), but he has to film everything too, so that still counts.

The couple and the woman find themselves trapped in their homes, being toyed with, and left completely at the mercy of their mysterious tormentors (there has to be more than one tormentor, right? Different locations and all?) From here on out it's a battle of wills not only between killer and victim, but between us and our remote controls... because in hindsight, we should have just had the good sense to push STOP, and call it a night.

RANDOM PRESENT ON YOUR DOORSTEP AT NIGHT? SEEMS LEGIT.
Mockingbird has been finished since 2012, but is just seeing release now, in October of 2014. Ib most cases when a movie sits on the shelf for a year or more, it's because it's bad, and the companies behind them know it. In the review from the other that I mentioned earlier, it was said that everyone at Blumhouse was proud of the film, and that its long delay was only because they were looking for the right release date.

For two years.

That being said, we were legitimately excited to see Mockingbird, for two reasons: One, because we LOVED director Bryan Bertino's 2008 home invasion classic, The Strangers (our review HERE); and two, because Blumhouse Productions has put out some great movies over the past few years, and their track record gives us confidence in most of the projects that they choose to support.

Mockingbird opens well enough, with an extremely tense scene that made us think "holy shit, this movie is going to be crazy!" As many Found Footage/First Person/POV films do though, Mockingbird descends into a confusing mixture of implausible plot devices, and genuinely effective tension. The mechanics of this movie are the real issue here; they're frustrating, and they don't really work all that well, and it's really hard to "feel" a movie when so much of what happens during its running time just rings false.

To be fair, as messy as the movie ended up becoming, we have to admit that the tension was pretty high at times during this one.

THE BEST PART OF THE MOVIE.
I guess my biggest problem with Mockingbird is the stupidity of its script, and the even deeper stupidity of its characters.

The main plot device that allows this movie to exist is that people randomly receive video cameras, and they're told to keep filming everything or they die. Fine. After a while though, they figure out that the killers can see everything that they're doing, because there are transmitters in the cameras, which is the first thing we took issue with...

  • Why not put the camera in a closet or another room or something, so that they can't see what you're doing/planning?
  • Why not just smash the camera?
  • Why not drop the camera, and run from your house into the night until you get somewhere safe?

The character's frustrating inability to do anything remotely intelligent to change their situations is one thing, but are you telling me that none of their neighbors can hear screams, yelling, glass breaking, or the fucking loudspeaker that's playing creepy, repetitive messages from outside in the middle of the yard?
 
ONE OF THEM IS A MURDERING SOCIOPATH, THE OTHER, A LOSER.
And the ending... we pretty much figured that they'd all be lured to the 1805 Mockingbird address once the couple got the card at the beginning, and that somehow they'd all be duped into killing each other, or at least they'd try to... but a house full of balloons? Watching them all wading through an endless, congestive sea of balloons (that filled every inch of space from floor to ceiling) was almost comical.

And once the balloons parted and they were finally in the same room together, and they shot each other, I couldn't help but think "these people are great shots." Only two people had guns, and as inexpert, terrified, and confused as they were, both of them managed to shoot two people dead in a manner of seconds?

Come on.

STAB DOWN, KID. STAB DOWN.
All of the above sloppiness could have been forgiven to an extent, had it not been for the atrocious ending.

The reveal that it was a bunch of 12-year-old kids behind the elaborate "game" was just downright silly, and even more so insulting. How in the world were they able to orchestrate the terrorizing three separate households full of people, and then all make it to the place of the final showdown, to be able to witness them killing each other?

I mean, the couple's kids left, and went to a bowling alley where it's revealed that these other killer kids were all hanging out, taking pictures with the clown; then somehow these killer kids split up, went to the couple's and woman's homes, and began their terrorizing of them; and then once the victims are told that they have 10 minutes to get to the Mockingbird address, these kids all somehow get there before them, so that they can be laying in wait for them?

How do those logistics even begin to make sense?

  • If this was set in 1995, how could the kids afford to pull this off? Back then, do you know how much all of those cameras, and the technology to wirelessly monitor them, would cost? How could children afford that?
  • Even if they could somehow afford it, how in the world would they know how to do such things?
  • And how were the kids monitoring the transmitters in the cameras?
  • How did they even place them in the cameras to begin with?
  • Even if they knew how to do such things, how did they all get to and from different residences, a bowling alley, and back to the house at the end? None of them can drive!
  • And how did the camera batteries last so long?
  • And how did they break into these peoples homes in the middle of the night, and video tape them while sleeping? Were they all emancipated, and had no guardians?
  • And where did they get all of those balloons? Literally, it must have been 1000+ balloons? Who paid for those? More importantly, who blew them up? WHO BLEW THEM UP!

NO WAY IN HELL could  bunch of children be able to pull off this type of elaborate, tech-savvy "game" in this day and age, let alone in 1995. The fact of the matter is that they most likely wouldn't have even been able to conceive of such a thing.

HOW? HOW ARE YOU ACTUALLY WATCHING THEM?
There's just so, so much about this movie that made absolutely no sense whatsoever, that we're honestly not sure what in the hell happened.

We can tell you one thing though: Mockingbird should have never made it out of the scripting stage.

PRETENDING TO BE A BABY WILL NOT SAVE YOUR LIFE.
The fact that the same guy who wrote and directed The Strangers, wrote and directed this mess of a movie, perplexes the living shit out of us. Maybe it sounded great on paper, but in execution, Mockingbird is a tragedy. We're going to forget this movie ever happened and just wait for Bryan Bertino's next effort, There Are Monsters, because honestly, he's better than this.

Mockingbird is available now on VOD, and is also streaming on Netflix.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00O8O72JG/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00O8O72JG&linkCode=as2&tag=thehorclu0a-20&linkId=BLPDBX6NZLUHWARH

It's always great to see Audrey Marie Anderson in something new. We've loved her ever since her days on The Unit.

 

10 comments :

  1. Thank you for this review. As one who has limited funds for dvds, buying one and then discovering it's crap grates on my nerves. Though I've only been reading you for about a year and commenting only in the past few months, I've gone back and read most of your early reviews and found you are pretty consistent in your likes and dislikes - some which echo mine. As a result I can read one of your reviews and make an accurate determination whether I will enjoy the movie or not and it doesn't matter if I agree with you or not. Irrational stupidity of the characters is near the top of both our lists of dislikes, (and, as always, you give examples), so I will not waste my limited movie funds on 'Mockingbird.' Thank you again.

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  2. You're welcome, Anon.

    One of the main reasons that this site exists is so that we can spread the good & bad news about the movies we see, so that people can make a more informed decision on whether or not to spend their $$$ on seeing them.

    It's our mission! :)


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  3. ''The main plot device that allows this movie to exist is that people randomly receive video cameras, and they're told to keep filming everything or they die. Fine. After a while though, they figure out that the killers can see everything that they're doing, because there are transmitters in the cameras, which is the first thing we took issue with...

    Why not put the camera in a closet or another room or something, so that they can't see what you're doing/planning?Why not just smash the camera?Why not drop the camera, and run from your house into the night until you get somewhere safe?.

    Closet it, smash it or run - The initial threat of 'stop filming or die' surely still applies to being obstructive.

    Its not always the movie that lacks sense of logistics or plausibility. The mission has gone tired, grudgingly manipulated & biased beyond anything that can be perceived as objective reviews. How can movies of the Horror genre be segregated into 'hidden' classifications set by just how real, plausible, possible or indeed if content makes sense.?

    Suffice to say that irrational stupidity of characters or unrealistic logistics is not consistent throughout the history of the films reviews at all & has become nothing but a critics tool too busy to focus & blinded by sponsors terms & conditions.

    thats not your mission! & too the other anon. shame on you. There is a thin line between 'do not want' & 'guilty pleasure' & many 4* could easily be a 2*.

    running costs of sites are tremendous & there are consequences to the credibility of a resource even a bloody good one like this.


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  4. Sorry, but regardless of the fact that the characters did some stupid things in the movie, I thought this movie was well made.
    I honestly don't understand why people keep continuously use that excuse for not liking a movie. People in real life do really stupid things, constantly, so to say that a movie character should always make the 'smart' choice because 'thats what I would do' is ridiculous to say the least. I had not read a review, not had heard of this movie, it was there to download and so I did, watched it, and enjoyed it. Did I yell at the people for being dumb asses sometimes, yeah, but all movies have this.

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  5. If this was set in 1995, how could the kids afford to pull this off? Back then, do you know how much all of those cameras, and the technology to wirelessly monitor them, would cost? How could children afford that?
    I instantly assumed that these were the spoiled kids of rich parents, and simply used a charge card, not really a big deal.
    Even if they could somehow afford it, how in the world would they know how to do such things? Um, LOL, when I was their age, in 1987, I knew how to do every single thing that happens in this movie. We owned a camera just like these. I was smart, and tech savvy.
    And how were the kids monitoring the transmitters in the cameras? I assumed that there was no transmitter, they were just spying on them.
    How did they even place them in the cameras to begin with?
    Even if they knew how to do such things, how did they all get to and from different residences, a bowling alley, and back to the house at the end? None of them can drive!
    And how did the camera batteries last so long? Those old cameras lasted about 4 hours.
    And how did they break into these peoples homes in the middle of the night, and video tape them while sleeping? Were they all emancipated, and had no guardians?
    Um, I used to sneak out of my house every weekend when I was 10-15 years old and stay out all night. My parents never knew it, not a big deal. In fact we used to terrorize cars at night, so in a way we were a-holes just like these kids.
    And where did they get all of those balloons? Literally, it must have been 1000+ balloons? Who paid for those? More importantly, who blew them up? WHO BLEW THEM UP!
    Um, really???? They used and air tank, it blows up a balloon in a second.
    As far as the kids logistics, I assumed that they were spread out, and used cell phones to talk back and forth, seeing how they were most likely rich.
    I didn't notice them at the bowling alley. I'll have to watch it again and take a look.
    I can answer every single one of your faults with this movie, but would you still hate on it?? Probably...

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  6. Mike keith you are a seriously annoying know it all. You know damn well this film stretched plausibility beyond breaking point on several levels. For it to turn out to be pubeless kids masterminding all this was just silly and an insult to viewers. We deserved a better pay off especially having sat through that tedious first 30 minutes of drab folk filming themselves. I was seconds away from giving up on it.

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  7. Thank you so much for this accurate, honest, indepth movie review. Based on this I'm sure I will be using this site regularly :) thank you for being awesome

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  8. Seriously the most accurate review of this terrible, terrible movie. A thousand thank you's for this! And that website you're talking about gives any horror movie a great review. Bunch of idiots over there, so again, I thank you for your honest opinion

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    1. Our pleasure, Anon. We just call them like we see them. Shame on thos other sites :)~

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  9. I believe the movie had a wide array of flaws but I enjoyed the tension that was built over time. Besides the first part of the movie that bored me to death, I can say that this movie was still enjoyable to watch. Definitely don't have plans to ever watch it again but I did like it more than the vast majority of found footage movies I have seen.

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