Starring: Thomas Mann, Oliver Cooper, Jonathan Daniel Brown
The “found footage” approach to filmmaking has so far secured a strong (well, financially succesful anyway) partnership with the horror genre. Using this method, films have been able to operate on a relatively low-budget, and as long as they are marketed well, have been able to recoup the initial outlay many times over.
This has led other film makers to attempt to use the same format with different genres. Earlier this year Chronicle was released and whilst it received mixed to positive reviews, it certainly made a fortune at the box office, leading to an inevitable sequel.
In Project X, not to be confused with the 1987 Matthew Broderick film of the same name, director Nima Nourizadeh attempts to use found footage as a way of telling the story of three teenagers, stuck on a low rung of the social ladder, who attempt to put on an epic birthday party and become more popular.
First let’s look at whether this approach works. Regardless of what I think of the film itself, I think using a first person view actually works quite well. A criticism often thrown at the horror movies is “Why are you still rolling the camera when your life is in danger?” No such argument can be used on Project X, for two reasons. Firstly, this isn’t just one camera feed, this is multiple shots ranging from the main camera, to mobile phones, even news reporters. Using these different sources may raise the question of why make it “found footage” in the first place, but I think the intention was to present a documentary of the events, not necessarily just from the main characters point of view. As such, we can see other events unfolding, whilst some of the main cast are elsewhere causing havoc.
Secondly, when you are “loser” teenagers and you are having the best night of your life, and you have the technology to document it, why the hell wouldn’t you tape every god damn second?
So the film making kinda works, but what else does? The soundtrack is pretty bad ass. Filled with a mixture of house music, hip hop and a variety of other “chuuuuunes”, the soundtrack does an excellent job of making me wish I had thrown a similar party myself, and it was arguably the best part of the film.
As for the story, I once read a review describing this as “Exactly like Superbad. If everyone in it was an asshole”. I thought it was a very funny quote, but could it possibly be right? Actually, it wasn’t far off the truth. Other than the way the story is told, it doesn’t push many boundaries, you won’t find anything in this you haven’t already seen in Superbad, The Inbetweeners or any other “teenagers gone wild” comedies.
In fact, the first half an hour is so terribly boring, and unfunny I was sure I was in for a horrendous film. The main characters and almost everyone around them are so unlikable that I can see why they aren’t popular. Whether it is the one who acts cool, and has a ton of stories when everyone actually knows he is BSing, the slightly mentally ill one who is looked down upon, even by these guys, or the birthday boy who at first seems decent enough, until he decides that being popular is so important that no amount of property destruction, betrayal and violence could dampen his high.
The middle section, when the party first gets going is kinda cool though, if only for the music and all the flashing imagery (and I mean that literally. There are more titties than a soft core porn shoot!) of beautiful people enjoying themselves at the hapless Thomas’ expense. The abuse of dogs and midgets are par for the course in this film.
The last third however is just plain absurd. I won’t ruin it, but whilst the rest of the film was believable (borderline at least) the last few moments of the party were just so out of keeping that it ruins any good work the last half hour or so had built up.
So should you see it? I would still argue it is worth watching, as it is by no means a bad film, and for a comedy there aren’t too many laugh out loud moments, but it is still strangely entertaining and engaging at times. But, a word of warning. Don’t X-pect too much, and you might have a good time.
Rating 3 out of 5