Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Task (2010)

Your 15 minutes are up...

"The Task" is about an extreme of the extreme reality TV show in the US--despite the filming location being Bulgaria and the majority of the actors being from the UK with mostly North American accents--that goes so far as to kidnap its participants and bring them to the filming location without telling them first, of course, to make it more over-the-top for the hungry audiences that will be watching. The name of the game is for 6 participants--3 gals, 3 guys--to spend the night in an abandoned prison that has a haunted past with a sadistic, power hungry warden from the '30s and complete tasks that will put them to the test all for the sake of money and potential fame.

They walk around with their personality types on their foreheads: the brazen gal, flamboyant guy, pretty gal, cool guy, smart aleck and sister's keeper. The perspective is shown through the task takers as well as in the producer's trailer that runs the controls, such as spooky effects and cameras. As it turns out they're part of the game too and don't have as much use of manipulation as they think. Participants are shown in prerecorded segments stating their biggest fears and some of them have to relive them for the sake of entertainment.

The movie doesn't always keep a steady enough first person angle to make this more effectively spooky or scary to show what the person has to endure. The sets are catered to their fears but not always given a chance to truly get inside their sadistic mechanisms, and the effects are usually tricks of light to make it look as if something was there one moment, gone the next; the film is habitually dark as a result. It frequently changes up camera angles with a bit of style and switches over to the control trailer to show the behind-the-scenes people laughing and joking about, which takes one out the potential atmosphere even more so. This tries to be a share of aspects at once: fun/humorous, horrific, supernatural, thriller like and to project that reality TV flair while at it. It does the last well enough but the rest it only touches on for brief periods as it strings you along to see its culmination and tasks along the way that are bordering more on chore than challenge--not helped that the participants are just doing it to do it, rather than needing to do it for a personal goal. A share of it doesn't always cross over to be more than just a concept and go for a cinematic experience with a sense for engaging interaction between its characters. The acting is all over the place since this is a reality show and those notoriously go for forced emotions. In that regard it does feel spot on. Though for the theatrical experience it ranges from decent to atrocious depending on the moment and person or what tone they're trying to portray. For simple amusement, everyone keeps up, though for the dramatic and suspenseful, it holds up like a cardboard coffin.

I have to admit despite the premise being over-the-top and superficial, not to mention done similarly before--on real TV and usually with a haunted house in movies--I actually wanted to see how it would unfold initially. I mean, it's so ridiculous that you might think it has to be nothing but entertaining and hopefully competitive and sportsmanlike with the game angle. Not to mention for the participation mode to see people do unusual things that the audience would only guess if they'd have the courage to do themselves. Unfortunately there wasn't enough material to keep it intriguing and its is-it-real, is-it-not shtick actually took away from the film, which could have definitely been a solid angle to enhance it and give it a charging focus. Except it went from not taking itself seriously to actually taking itself seriously and then back again, but to only end up forming an extreme divide with the two mentioned and not always clenching the foundation in between to maintain gravitating mystery and suspense. This is a film that had potential even in a basic, one-off sense but the execution didn't give itself enough time to concentrate on all of the various angles it threw into the mix.

Rating: 3.5/10

Director: Alex Orwell
Link: IMDB

No comments:

Post a Comment