Written by: Tera Kirk
Directed by: Eduardo Schuldt
Cast: Daniella Mendoza, Rodrigo Falla, Carlos Casella, Mario Gaviria, Diego Semanario
I have a weird relationship with “found footage” films. A good one like Paranormal Activity has me scanning the screen for any shadows or half-seen figures out of focus. (I should also think: Wait…what was that?! at least once.) When done well, a found footage film makes me feel like I’m solving a mystery right along with the characters.
Eduardo Shuldt’s La Entidad (The Entity), on the other hand, reminds me of how annoying and insipid the genre can be.
A Peruvian film, La Entidad follows four film students (Benjamin, Lucas, Joshua and Joshua’s ex-girlfriend, Carla), who are making a documentary for their final project. Carla suggests studying “reaction videos”–Internet videos of people watching murder or torture or other disgusting things. It isn’t long before they find a reaction video starring someone Carla knows personally–and everyone in the video is terrified. Naturally, our intrepid documentarians want to know exactly what has these people so scared.
It’s a decent setup, but “decent” is all La Entidad ever is. Benjamin is your standard Horror Movie Jerk, who makes fun of nerdy Lucas and asks Joshua if he should leave him alone so he can score with Carla–while Carla is in the room. The actors themselves are the strongest part of the movie; Rodrigo Falla’s performance is what makes Joshua as likeable as he is; as Benjamin, Mario Gaviria’s quiet look of horror and disgust during one of the film’s climactic scenes made me appreciate a character I hadn’t liked before.
But as good as they are, the actors still have to run around a graveyard in the dark, aiming their cameras at everything but the titular creature. (Shouldn’t film students be better at framing?) Then again, when the entity finally does appear it’s as uninspired as the rest of the movie. Maybe they were trying to spare us the disappointment.
Not everything about La Entidad screams “middle of the road,” though. The twist surprised me, in a “Huh. That was nice” sort of way. But a mildly refreshing ending and subtle, eye-catching performances can’t save the movie from its flat script, poor lighting, par-for-the-course shakycam and visually uninteresting monster. I like to think that the found footage film isn’t dead yet, but La Entidad is certainly a nail in its coffin.