REVIEW: Unlisted Owner
– By Dave Dubrow
So there I was, minding my own business, doing no harm to anyone, when Chris Barnes, proprietor of The Slaughtered Bird, called me on the telephone. *
“Hello?” I answered.
“It’s me, mate.”
“Yeah. Oh. Fucking wanker. I’m sending a film for you to review. Do it up right this time,” he said.
I couldn’t help it; I began to cry. “Please, don’t…don’t do this to me—”
“Quit blubbing, you big girl’s blouse. Have it for me by tomorrow.”
And that’s how I came to watch Unlisted Owner, the low-budget, found-footage indie horror movie I will review for you today. If my description of the movie makes it sound unappealing, it’s only because the actual contents are, unfortunately, pretty terrible.
I had to look away several times during the film’s first few minutes because the shaky-cam made me throw up all over myself. The movie begins with horribly expository dialogue; moves to quick cuts of screaming/a corpse; segues into an up-the-nostril shot a la Blair Witch of a girl named Chloe (the faux-police report/footage label spelled it “Chole”); and then cuts to the main plot, which focuses on a bunch of disagreeable people going camping and deciding, apropos of nothing at all, to explore the house in which Chloe/Chole was brutally murdered not long ago.
Everybody knows that the essence of drama is conflict: without conflict, nothing that happens on screen is interesting. Except for nudity. Which this film hasn’t got. What? Oh. Yes. Anyway, what I’ve noticed in many indie productions is that the screenwriter artificially attempts to build conflict by having all the characters act like complete assholes to each other: bickering, swearing, arguing, taunting, etc. Argument=conflict, right? Well, no; this technique just makes you wonder why these people hang out together if they dislike each other so much, and you find yourself not giving a damn about what happens to any of them because they’re just so mean and unpleasant. Like in this film right here. On top of that, many of the characters loudly and frequently complained about the one character filming everything, which was amusing in a meta-sense: without the one guy filming, the other guys wouldn’t be in a film for them to complain about. They were, in essence, attacking their own existence.
What didn’t make it to the cutting-room floor was tedious: long stretches of meaningless, bitchy conversation; a scene of the two jock characters stopping the car in the middle of the road to do something called “shots on the hood,” which is as stupid as it sounds; and the apotheosis of overlong, unnecessary scenes: the camera-holding guy arguing that they should all go home instead of breaking into the house in which Chole/Chloe and her family were butchered. This takes us to an existential question: if they don’t go into the murder house, is there a movie to watch? And if there isn’t a movie to watch, what did I waste 75 minutes of my time doing?
When they finally break into the murder house, they’re inexplicably locked inside. Blood drips down bathroom walls. Windows, which can be used to escape a house in which you are inexplicably locked, are unbroken. People you wish would just go away finally depart. And the owner remains…unlisted.
Despite the work done to film, edit, and bring this movie to market, I can’t recommend it to anyone. If that makes me the asshole, so be it. I’ve been called worse.
* This is not how Dave came to review this movie. I don’t have his telephone number, and wouldn’t ring him if I did. -CB