If only you knew how excited this movie-nut was to find "Always Watching: A Marble Hornets Story" on Apple TV. Based on popular Youtube series by Troy Wagner and Joseph DeLage, this story (directed by James Moran of the Paranormal Activity movies) follows the mysterious and often horrifying actions of the now mythical Slenderman. Wagner, DeLage, and Timothy Sutton (who all wrote and starred in the series) attended the FLY Film Festival in Enid, Oklahoma where they confirmed this project. The series was so effective (taking a psychological / suspenseful approach over that of gore and action) that I literally spent weeks being paranoid and afraid after 20 episodes. It should come as no surprise that my hands were almost trembling as I hit "play" and the movie started. The next hour and a half would drag me into a state of indifference.
The movie was not bad. It had a great setup. An amateur news crew discovers tapes in an abandoned house, where a family seemed to had vanished in the middle of the day. As they examine the footage, what haunted the family begins to haunt our leads.
From here we are introduced to three decently developed characters; Jake McDorman as the director with anger issues, "Charlie", Chris Marquette as the sensitive "Milo", and Alexandra Breckinridge (currently starring in The Walking Dead) as the struggling love interest "Sara". Marquette and Breckinridge in particular were captivating and mostly convincing in their execution.
The movie (a "found footage" blend) starts with a great momentum of mystery-building. It leaves dark, unknown holes in the storyline that generate a fear of what is inside. Yet, as the movie begins to reveal itself, the predictability could almost be measured by a metronome. Beat, beat, flash of Slenderman. Beat, beat, flash of Slenderman. This caused the pacing to drag, especially at the halfway mark. There were also the bad kind of holes in the story that began to appear; moments where you went "Why is he doing that?" or "Why are they going there?" The greatest flaw of most "found footage" movies is the question of "why is this person still filming?" Overall, they have address this in the movie later on, but before the spookiness started, it didn't make sense.
There was also a slickness to the movie that took away from the authenticity. The "good looking actors" were typical and the staging was too perfect. The original trio from the series looked more like local guys you'd see in your neighborhood and the camerawork felt purposeful, yet spontaneous.
All in all, this movie was a tad disappointing. The ending would have been more unsettling had we not had such a formulated and practical journey to get there. Most of the "scares" were nothing to be afraid of. There are way worse found footage movies out there, but there are way better. Too bad DeLage, Wagner, and Sutton were not in charge...I feel that what we came to love about the series would have survived the transition to film. Simply put, they should have done a better job. After all, the fans are always watching.