As July winds its way down into the dog days of summer in August, Infrared joins a handful of new horror releases this week. Of course, Nope is the big story of the week as one of the year’s most anticipated movies. On the other hand, Infrared is an indie found-footage horror movie making its way to several VOD platforms. There’s nothing inherently original about its premise. We’ve seen plenty of mocumentary-style movies following ghost hunters into places most of people would avoid. Still there’s always a few scares left to wring out from familiar premises. To date, Infrared has slid under critics radars with no official reviews.
Paranormal investigator wannabe Wes has always wanted his own television series. Now he finally has a pilot episode ready to film. And he’s gotten access to an abandoned school with a troubled past – a location no one has previously been given access. But he’s almost immediately in over his head. To ensure the series gets off the ground, the producer reunites Wes with his estranged sister, Izzy, who has an actual psychic gift. Are the reunited siblings prepared for what they find in the school’s basement?
Infrared Substitutes Filler for Slow-Burn Atmosphere
So Infrared isn’t a very good movie – in fact it barely qualifies as one. Yes, the biggest problem here is that nothing happens for the bulk of the movie. And by nothing, I mean literally nothing. Imagine watching one of those DIY reality shows on TLC where the hosts talk about what they’re going to do and then run out of time to actually do it with the last 15 minutes. Writer and directors Robert Livings and Randall Nundlall Jr. – yes, two directors made this movie – spend an inordinate amount of time on place-setting. Like The Last Exorcism or Grave Encounters, Infrared wants audiences to get close with and understand its brother and sister protagonists. But the relationship dynamic doesn’t require the time set aside to establish it.
Yes, the biggest problem here is that nothing happens for the bulk of the movie. And by nothing, I mean literally nothing.
Unfortunately, what amounts to nothing more than filler takes the place of actual storytelling. While The Blair Witch Project took its time getting its protagonists into the woods, Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez used that time to weave a mythology that set the precedent for later cares. In contrast, Infrared introduces ideas that are never fully developed. One can almost instantly something’s not quite right about Greg Sestero’s (The Room) Geoff. And most horror fans will figure out that Geoff’s wife may play an important part in the school’s dark history long before the finale. Too bad Infrared does very little with these ideas and others. This isn’t intentionally ambiguous storytelling either. Rather it’s more like a misappropriation of storytelling resources.
Infrared Has a Few Decent Scares But It’s Too Little, Too Late
Of course, Infrared has a bigger problem with which to contend before the movie even starts. That is, Infrared isn’t working with a particularly original concept. The found-footage and mocumentary formats already come with a set of familiar conventions. Yet we’ve also seen numerous found-footage horror movies build their narrative around a team of ghost-hunters who go somewhere forbidden. Grave Encounters. Incantation. Gonjiam: The Haunted Asylum. Noroi: The Curse. As Above, So Below. If the wheel ain’t broke, don’t fix. Nevertheless, Billings and Nundlall have nothing new to add in the way of scares or suspense and don’t really try for most of the movie.
Nothing in Infrared is ground-breaking – we’ve seen similar scares executed more effectively …
Once the finale rolls around and Infrared finally turns on its, well, infrared, Billings and Nundlall do tap into some suspense. And there are a handful of very good jump scares. Nothing in Infrared is ground-breaking – we’ve seen similar scares executed more effectively in some of the movies listed above. However, the movie’s final 10 minutes are just enough to save it from being a complete waste of one’s time. In addition, all of the performance are more than adequate enough for a low-budget found-footage movie. Maybe it’s not even fair to say the movie lacks content to justify its own existence. Instead, the problem seems to be that the directors don’t know to properly allocate their ideas to tell a proper story.
Infrared a Found-Footage Movie Better Left Unfound
If you can make it to the end of Infrared, there’s a high likelihood that you’ll throw your convertor at the screen in rage. And that’s not because Livings and Nundlall Jr. end with a well-crafted ambiguous finale. What Infrared delivers is two-third filler followed by a handful of decent scares in an abrupt finale. And no, it’s not a slow-burn. Nothing is developed or built up. The movie simply goes from idling to 100. Only those few decent scares save this found-footage from a ‘F’ grade. Maybe the directors should actually go back and watch the movies they so clearly wanted to imitate.