Sometimes, a film may fail at one or two or even five things. A much rarer find is a film that manages to fail at absolutely everything it attempts. The term “attempt” is important, since The Before Time did unintentionally succeed at making me laugh out loud several times – a much higher success rate than many recent comedies.
The Before Time tells the implausible story of a group of news reporters who end up starring in a reality series wherein they attempt to find lost Native American gold with the help of their conveniently Native American cameraman. Of course, as it so happens, the gold is protected by something which comes in and starts killing the reporters; as evil does. In other words, this film is much more insistent on the viewer’s understanding of found footage and curse horror films than any actual storytelling.
Perhaps it would help to list the failures: Acting? Bad even by low-budget standards. Verisimilitude in found footage segments? Everything has been edited together to an intense degree, meaning the only way this film could be made is for multiple cameras focusing on different things at any given time. Artifice in the non-found elements? The graphics would get the designer fired from a local access show. Social commentary? Possible failure; genuinely couldn’t tell. Originality? None; an important scene is directly lifted out of [Rec]. These sorts of films usually live off of jump scares, but director Miguel Müller even manages to fail at that, creating non-scares through a mixture of predictability, bad CGI and strange pacing.
One final note of importance involves the way that the film attempts to inject verisimilitude into its plot by using a method perfected by the likes of Faces of Death in the 1970s. Every once in a while, a character makes sure to point out the existence of a camera in the room. This is supposed to lend the sequence a sense of realism, but instead just shows how unnecessary the camera’s presence often is. Add in the fact that someone would have had to see fit to edit all of these sequences together into an episode of a reality series and all sense of veracity goes out the window.
What you are then left with is a filmmaker without a clue making a film without an iota of intelligence.
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Shahbaz Khayambashi: @Shakhayam