In the eyes of the fans of found footage or Oren Peli’s work, ‘Area 51’ has been on the list of films that most people have been looking forward to seeing, including myself. Ever since his directorial debut in Paranormal Activity which took off just like a flying saucer into out of space, Oren Peli has only done producing work on the likes of ‘Insidious 2’ & all the other ‘Paranormal Activity’ films, so the return to the director’s chair was always going to be an interesting one, and unfortunately, it hasn’t been worth the wait. ‘Area 51’, a film that has been in the works since 2009 with numerous re-shoots and prolonged post-production work on this found footage film, throughout the film, you are wondering why they even bothered in the first place. As you can already guess from the title, the film revolves around the infamous government site Area 51 in Nevada, where our three main characters in the film, devise a plan to uncover the secrets that are within the top-secret base.
After experiencing a weird sighting and is unaccountable for the hours before and after his weird sighting at a party towards the start of the film, Reid, one of the main three characters becomes obsessed with UFO’s and Area 51. After convincing his friends to tag along, they go on a road trip to Nevada to uncover the secrets, while tagging us along against our will on their predictable journey to the base. The big problem for me is that I am completely immune to all the trickery with found footage films, and what makes a great found footage film is where they use new tricks and don’t follow other peoples lead in other found footage films. The tricks used within the film are not ground breaking, nor are they remotely interesting or scary in that matter. I wouldn’t even go as far as to say this is a horror found footage. It’s definitely a sci-fi found footage film, but even in that respect, it doesn’t dive enough into the sci-fi footsteps to even entertain a sci-fi fan, which is myself.
It’s just your typical found footage film really, but if there was to be the end of found footage films, this would be the final dig from the spade into the grave of found footage films. ‘Area 51’ fails to even try to entertain the audience or even try to shock them; in points, certainly towards the finale of the film, it becomes horrifyingly embarrassing in its efforts to scare or even entertain. It’s even more disappointing knowing that Oren Peli has directed it, but maybe this will determine the future of anymore directorial work from the Israeli-American filmmaker. Maybe he should just stick to producing…
Lacklustre acting from the main cast, shoddy camera work that doesn’t try to create something new and original; and not forgetting the embarrassing attempts to scare the audience; maybe next time don’t try to scare people by well-known found footage techniques and the hilarity of making Alien’s scary. A shocking 1 out of 5 stars.