Director : Kerry Bellessa
Stars : Summer Bellessa, Chris Hill, Jasen Wade
When a group of friends decide to follow a car they’ve seen posted on an Amber Alert, things start to go very wrong.
So going into this film, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to the next ninety or so minutes as I’d heard mainly bad things about it, particularly regarding the acting and pacing. A quick visit to the IMDB page will result in seeing the usual “That’s an hour and a half of my life I’ll never get back” and “I fell asleep within the first ten minutes” posts from the whinge brigade, but I needed to persist as I’d recently become fascinated with the whole found footage genre and a need to see every film within it had grown.
I know a lot of people are getting tired of found footage these days as the more recent cinema releases in the genre have been somewhat let downs (Paranormal Activity 4 in particular being a complete mess), but that’s the problem, for me these films aren’t meant to be made by big budget Hollywood studios, they’re meant to be made by people starting out in the game who use the home video feel as a cost cutting way to produce a quality story. It doesn’t always work, but I’ve seen some real gems in the past few years after watching over 200 shaky cam films (surprisingly there’s that many) and really, the two worst films I’ve seen in that period have been the bigger budgeted “Diary of the Dead” and “Grave Encounters 2” (both costing around $2,000,000 to make).
So where does Amber Alert rank? Well it easily stormed into my top five found footage films. I’ll go as far as to say that I was pretty much blown away by it and watching the third act was probably the most intense viewing experience I’d had all year. Now with that said I will admit the first act is slow as we follow Sam (Bellessa) and Nathan (Hill) driving to Phoenix as Sam’s younger brother, Caleb (Caleb Thompson), films them from the back seat. Get used to this aspect as the trio rarely set foot from their car for a good hour or so.
Eventually, as the title suggests, they see an amber alert on the highway and then notice that the same grey Honda displayed seems to be straight ahead of them. Immediately Sam wants to pursue the car, but Nathan’s not down with this idea. I think this portion of the film is where a lot of people have the biggest problem as the pair constantly bicker about what they should be doing in this situation. The character of Sam is particularly annoying in this instance and I think the people that have complained about her have misconstrued this as bad acting, but in my opinion this is an actor playing an annoying character pretty well.
It’s Chris Hill that steals the show however as in one scene the trio eventually catch up to the Honda and the owner (Wade) get’s out and confronts them, telling them it’s all a big misunderstanding. Nathan then has to embarrassingly apologise whilst Sam is less convinced and starts to aggressively question the suspect. You have to feel sorry for Nathan at this point as he’s caught in the middle (literally) and his performance suggests discomfort perfectly.
So all in all Amber Alert is well worth watching through the slow build up to the ultra tense finale. The story focuses on something we all care about and the viewer can only wish for one outcome. Maybe the characters are annoying at times and they don’t always make the right decisions, but the protagonists here aren’t heroes of Hollywood, they’re real people and what they get mixed up in drags them out of their depth. So watch it and judge for yourself, maybe you will hate it, but rarely has a film that I wasn’t expecting much from turned out to have me sitting on the edge of my seat for so long.