The Expedition (2006)
Starring: Anthony Cortese, Norman McIsaac, Nigel Hartwell, Bill Lucas, Jessica Brant, and Tom Kring
Director: Nigel Hartwell
Rating: Five of Ten Stars
Five young filmmakers (Brant, Cortese, Hartwell, Kring and Lucas) sneak into a massive decaying structure that once housed an asylum in Saratoga County on October 31, 2004, with the intent of getting footage for a documentary. One of their number never emerged.
"The Expedition" is one of several films I've seen that tries to capture that one-time fluke that was "The Blair Witch Project" and it's one of the best attempts so far. The acting is very naturalistic and believable--better perhaps than it was even in "Blair Witch" as the characters here are a less prone to go straight for the hystrionics--and the whole set-up from beginning to end is very believable.
Unfortunately, the film suffers from some serious pacing issues. Entirely too much time is spent showing the characters wandering from decaying room to decaying room and meandering up stair wells and down hallways without much happening except idle chatter. Whenever something DOES happen, it's well done and often subtle... but then it's followed by more meandering, because the characters don't notice the strange thing that happened. (The camera catches it but they don't.)
The upshot is that the ends up being realistic on another level: It captures the real feeling of being on a film shoot... insofaras if you're not invovled in something that's going on at the time, it's almost as boring as watching paint dry.
There's the further problem that director Hartwell has a massive building to play with as far as staging his film, but he seems to only use the same few rooms and hallways as the film unfolds. If there had been a little more variation in the environment, the film might have been a little more exciting, although the biggest problem really is the pace. With a running time approaching two hours, "The Expedition" is in need of some serious trimming, perhaps losing as much as 10 or 15 minutes of running time.