Overall Grade: (D-)
Yet another shaky camcorder film that boasts and interesting premise and as usual leaves the most compelling part of the story untold.
The “Blair Witch Project” may not have been the most amazing movie, but it certainly started a revolution (whether it be good or bad) in the found-footage genre of horror and suspense. Usually only about ten-percent of these film end up highly entertaining yet many (including myself) always fall for it, in hopes of finding another of that small percentage of fun films that may result.
“Area 51” had its potential regardless of the the main characters being relatively unlikable and rousing zero connection with the viewer. Ben Rovner’s character was likable and delivered a couple chuckles in a film that needed to bring something to the table. He was the most realistic character in the story-line and not given mush screen-time. Writer/director Oren Peli has lived in this genre for a while now and yet his films all seem to fit the same mold (script wise) and his films all seem to take the same story-path.
The first-act takes a while to get going and once the setting move to inside the mysterious military base the intrigue is naturally increased. After a clever and highly tension filled scene to access a badge the film takes to the desert as the group tries to access the base.
This all plays out to a surprisingly entertaining second-act where often films can begin to falter. All the interest and suspense that is built up in the middle of the film continues into the final act as we get a (albeit shaky) look inside the infamous location through Peli’s mind.
After a slow start the intrigue is elevated and as I watched I was generally surprised at my interest. Yet before this thought could flee my mind the film took the usual turn and went down the generic path these films often follow. The film teases you with bait and then never fulfills, the abrupt ending was not thought provoking or interesting, it was rude. To make a person sit there for that long and to use and interesting premise to tell a mediocre story and to follow up by giving a vague climax-less closing was unnecessary.
After glimpses of alien-life, some outer world artifacts and a maze of a military base the script quickly starts into its neat little wrap up. There is a fine line between an ending closing to create thought and conversation and coming off as lazy by starting a nice story and not finishing it. This one was the latter and with what little glimpses you get, this one is not worth the time because in the end, regardless of a few fun scenes this one felt unfinished.