When any film takes a tired, over-populated genre and does something different with it, it will always get some sort of praise from me. There have been some different takes on the found footage genre but generally its reserved for horror and even more so, horror set in a house or in an abandoned, mental health hospital. That’s not to say that all these found footage films are bad, just that the genre is clearly in need of something else. We have had Cloverfield (which I loved) and Chronicle (which I still haven’t seen) and in the same year, we got Project X.
When I first saw the trailer for Project X, I thought it was going to be a horror film. I thought the party aspect of the film would turn into something else and we’d get zombies or possession or something else. I began to find out more about the film and realised that it is just a movie about an out of control party and how the central characters cope (or don’t) with the events.
This isn’t necessarily a negative thing. There is scope for this sort of film to be done well. Superbad shows that teenagers out of their depth can be funny and The Hangover is a good representation of how crazy things can get and how entertaining that can be. This film could do the same, it’s just held back slightly by the genre its chosen.
Found Footage is a clever device, if it’s used properly and intelligently. You’ll never improve on the purest, simplest use of found footage because its much more believable. Its harder to suspend your disbelief when you have to believe that the central character would still be holding the camera when events are out of control around them.
This is an issue with Project X because it would have worked so much better as a traditionally shot movie. The found footage angle doesn’t add anything. The film actually strays from the format for key events anyway, having different characters holding the camera or using completely different camera’s that haven’t been spoken about before. It means that when action is getting out of control, I’m frustratingly wondering why characters are still holding their camera, how their camera is working under water or who is actually holding the camera anyway?
It’s the movie trying to be clever and different. I can see why it wants to do this because there are a lot of similarities with films that have gone before. The three central characters have more than a little in common with the teenagers from Superbad. It’s particularly noticeable with Costa, played by Oliver Cooper, who could very easily have been called Seth and been played by Jonah Hill. In fact, the film could have been a Superbad sequel.
That wouldn’t have been a bad thing though. There are lots to enjoy in Project X. I love the way in which the party does slowly get out of control and just begins to spiral higher and higher. There are some great moments, as crazy as they are, that had me laughing out loud. You can’t help but gets sucked in to the whole film, wondering how things could get any bigger or more out of control and I never once guessed what was happening next.
It is very shallow and for some people it will be nothing more than a waste of ninety minutes. It’s not advertised as anything else though and it delivers on its central story, a party that gets out of control. It is tenuous in places and it does become unbelievable but that’s part of the fun of the whole film. It’s just a shame that its shot the way it is, which feels pointless and actually detracts from the film as a whole.
Overall, there is lots to like about Project X. There are some very funny moments, the whole story is one that keeps you entertained and interested but there is this niggling sense that it could have been done in a better way. Even it was shot traditionally and subsequently felt more like a Superbad clone, it would have managed to present things in a glossy, better structured and more focused way.
(1-3 – awful/avoid. 4-6 – average. 7-8 – good. 9-10 – fantastic.)