The Black Tape (2014)–movie review

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Several news media outlets receive a package containing a video. The package has no return address, but is simply labelled “The Black Tape”. Aside from a prelude set sometime after the main events, this video cassette details the tragic month of December 2009 for the Wilson family.

 

Parents, Robert and Alana Wilson (Allen Marsh and Elina Madison, respectively), their teen son, Paul (Parker Coppins), and, little daughter, Mary (Viktoria Stonebrooke), welcome the oldest daughter and college student, Stephanie (Melanie Thompson), home for the holidays. Most scenes in the home are viewed with strategically placed hidden cameras situated throughout the house. And, at times within or without of the home by a handheld camera. Nothing seems to go unseen in this family home, even one dark secret that figures in the story later in the film.

 

These cameras are set up by a masked and robed villain who has, for reasons yet to be revealed, targeted the Wilson family. First there’s mind games, but soon things get worse as one of the children is abducted and held for ransom. Murder, a frame job, and blackmail soon follows.  

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One of the things that makes this flick stand out is the style of the editing. Part of the tagline includes “Cut by me”. Besides it’s obvious double meaning, it adds to the character of the villain as well as the family within this story. The movie isn’t completely linear in its presentation; it includes flashbacks to inform the audience what the makers and villain wants them to know about the situation and characters. Some scenes are cut off just before a reveal, but soon is revisited to show what the audience needs to see for better understanding. It also has flash forwards to suggest foreshadowing.  The villain is often shown between sequences with titles written on cardboard to introduce the segments. This, at times, felt like a sort of Greek Chorus. These are great touches and helped pulling me into the film.

 

Even though it moves at a brisk pace and I am praising the cutting of the flick, there are times when scenes drag a bit. This slows it down during their time on screen. Some trimming would’ve helped. Plus, the opening sequence suggests something that never is explained.

 

But, for the most part these are truthfully small quibbles with a pretty satisfying horror thriller. With a solid cast, intriguing story (written and directed by Ramone Menon), and a great score by Abhimanyu Malhotra any viewer of this movie is sure to come away having a good time.–Charles T. Cochran

 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars   

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