Computer movies, a subgenre of found-footage films, are less common than their Blair Witch cousins, but, like the Finder of No Friends films, can be surprisingly effective. If they were any good.

Homeland Security is not a good thing.

Setting

Two years after the pandemic began and new strains emerged, the number of Covida deaths has soared, plunging the United States into a climate of violence and chaos. Unable to go out, a group of friends organize a noisy birthday party for boy Evan (Dan J. Johnson) via Zoom. Unfortunately, things get out of hand and the night gets out of hand, resulting in the death of Evan’s girlfriend, Jen (Jocelyn Hudon). All of this is displayed on zoom screens and then on video calls.

Species for which the setting is incorrect

Timur Bekmambetov, the producer of Unfriended, once laid out Dogme 95-like rules for films on computer screens, including that the action should not take place off-screen, that the camera’s work should resemble that of the machine, and that there should be no non-lethal sounds. It stands to reason that anything you record live with a webcam or a phone won’t work with Hans Zimmer’s orchestra, and you have to give the impression that your character is being filmed all the time. The first twenty minutes of the lair play out entirely within the zoom windows of the people present at the party. There’s no score, and it looks like it could be an Unfriended level film, though the stakes are lower.

Then Evan walks away, and instead of switching to the usual cinematic style, the creators stick to the on-screen trick of leaving Evan in a video chat on his phone. Which, of course, is normal for a human being. At one point he hides behind a hedge with police officers in his ears and keeps filming. With his light. Even if he didn’t understand the mistake he made, he should have been informed: Why are you still filming this? Hang up the phone. Or at least, just speak with your voice. And for God’s sake, whisper it. (Maybe the reason he doesn’t whisper is so you can’t hear it at the expense of the film). Safer at Home doesn’t believe in convincing viewers of the danger through the script and interrupts most of the film with a haunting soundtrack. Imagine what a mess the Blair Witch project would be if Eddie Izzard’s cellists followed them.

Remember when they were all on drugs? There won’t be 25 minutes in the movie. They talk early on about how Evan’s friend, Oliver (Michael Kupisk), obtained the drug from Japan, because it’s a bizarrely designed laboratory drug (unlike regular ecstasy, which is grown and harvested organically from the vine), so there’s a possible level at which the drug could be contaminated or toxic. They’re abandoning the idea altogether. Despite the fact that ecstasy is a known stimulant that raises body temperature, they prefer to show Nerdy Ben’s stress level by having him huddled nervously under a heavy blanket. While I was wearing the sweater. Without a drop of sweat on it.

Vertical entertainment

Carelessly torn from headings

All of this would be disappointing, but normal enough for a low-budget horror. In the name of 90 minutes of entertainment on a Friday night, some negligence can be forgiven. Where Safer at Home really fails is in trying to make COVID-19 a major point of the conspiracy. First of all: Does anyone want this in the genre of an escape thriller or a horror movie while we’re still dealing with it in real life? Second, when trying to walk on the edge, the mistakes made are obvious.

CGI has an expression known as Creepy Valley. The graphic design then goes from caricature, which we have no problem with, to photorealism. Just before the photorealism, there is a moment where the graphics are almost realistic, but only plotted to distract. Think, for example, of the dead-eyed monsters in the Polar Express.

What is safer at home is in the frightening valley of time. A fictional pandemic like contagion is free to set its own rules to some extent, because it has created its own disease. Homeland Security is linked to a real disease and yet, even though production only stopped in January, it already seems hopelessly outdated. He’s only using archival footage of President Trump because he probably finished filming before November. Statistics show that 13.2 million Americans died in July 2022. A new strain of Covid 20B. The fact is that we already have several new strains, and we know they are all KOVID-19 strains. We didn’t call the British or South African variants 19B or 20, it doesn’t work that way. An increase in mortality by more than 26 times also seems unpleasant. Isn’t half a million American dead enough for the creators of the tragedy? And although this new, much more deadly infection is apparently rampant, the characters who come out are not wearing masks. This puts the film in the category of seemingly improbable, but normal in the territory of This Is Shit.

But wait, there is (unfortunately) another.

Not content to take a contemporary plot and turn it into a movie, Safer at Home decides to start a Hamma-like police shootout. This is clearly an indictment of the fascist aspects of the American police, but it is handled so clumsily that the viewer rolls their eyes at the desperate attempt to corner the man outside on an empty street into which they have inserted themselves.

This happened shortly after one of the most absurd twists I’ve seen in a long time. The kind that makes the above a totally questionable proposition, which is never a pleasant time.

The Host is an example of a Zoom-based pandemic film that stalled on landing. So it is possible. Unfortunately, the security in his home country has been wrong more than once.

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