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  The St. Francisville Experiment
Tim Baldini, 2000
Rating: 1.1
 

Posted: November 07, 2002

Stay with me on this analogy. Once while mowing my lawn, I accidentally mowed over a fallen branch. The blades cut most of it with no problem, except for one piece, which was jettisoned out the side, flew into an adjacent yard, and hit my neighbor in the nuts. I didn't mean to do it, yet my intentions did little to ease my neighbor's pain. So it is with the St. Francisville Experiment. Yes, it's a Blair Witch rip-off with the woods replaced by a plantation where unspeakable horrors have caused tortured spirits to do creepy stuff. Yes, it's shot as a "pseudo-documentary" (think MTV's Fear, only not as well done) with each character carrying a camera. But is it scary? At one point a chair flies across the room on its own and there is a spooky reflection in the mirror, and ... did I mention the chair? A girl unknowingly eats a sandwich with a live cockroach in it. How's that for scary? That's right, man, a roach in between two pieces of bread. Outrageous! If that's a sign of paranormal activity I know of about four Chinese restaurants that are most definitely haunted. When the "beef" of a film deals with the unseen, the filmmakers must go to extraordinary lengths to create tension and atmosphere. Most of the time they are unable to do this which, proves something most viewers have known for a long time: YOU GOTTA HAVE MONSTERS! A vampire, zombie, an angry troll, a demonic possession or two never hurts, but some physical manifestation of the threat is mandatory. Have we learned nothing from Evil Dead? To compound matters, there's no gratuitous nudity, karate, or machine gunnings. This film needs a kick in the ass that unfortunately never comes. About twenty-five minutes in, one gets the distinct impression that there is no script, and when it comes to holding the viewers' attention while improvising, the four actors here ain't exactly the Blue Man Group. I know the makers of this film did not mean to disappoint the audience, but now I know how my neighbor felt.

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