Sx_Tape film review

Candyman director Bernard Rose returns to horror with Sx_Tape, and we’d rather he hadn’t

Bernard Rose remains a highly respected figure in genre circles thanks to his films Paperhouse (1988) and Candyman (1992). The former is an underrated and inventive psychological horror, while the latter is a modern classic of urban paranoia.

In recent years, however, the director’s output has been less well-regarded, and this return to horror does not represent a return to form.

When young artist Jill (Caitlyn Folley) and her boyfriend Adam (Ian Duncan) break into a former hospital for disturbed women, they soon find more than they bargain for. In terms of plot, this is about as far as it goes.

Rose manages to get some decent jump scares with the found-footage technique as the two leads wander the abandoned hospital, and the location is a legitimately creepy setting. However, the absence of plot means that the film is set on depressingly straightforward set of rails. They wander, they think they see something, they split up… There’s not really any attempt to set the story apart from the countless found-footage films that we’ve all seen by this point, and a reliance on the location and the shaky cam to keep us on our toes.

What really disappoints about Sx_Tape is the fact that the idea of a horror film attacking the exploitative nature of sex tapes and beyond has potential. However, there’s no clear indication that this premise was given any real thought beyond comparing this exploitation to the institutional abuse suffered by women in mental hospitals, a comparison that is made with all the subtlety of a head-butt.

Any claims of subversion are hindered by the fact that Eric Reese’ screenplay makes no attempt to flesh out these characters beyond their obnoxious exteriors. This may be part of the point, but it makes the bulk of the film painfully dull. By the time we’re confronted with some stomach-churning gore at the film’s close, it feels as though we’ve been taken for a deeply unpleasant and poorly thought-out ride.

We’d advise you to steer clear of it.