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Review of Panic Fest: “The Horror Story of Malibu”

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Starring: Dylan Sprayberry, Robert Bailey Jr. and Valentia de Angelis
Director: Scott Sloan
Rating: NR
Duration: 93 minutes

If I had to choose a genre in which it’s hard to create something new, it would definitely be a genre of footage. From “The Holocaust of Cannibals” to “Paranormal Action” – there are many films that break the genres, which manage to take the basics of the genre and raise them to a new brand or style of horror. But it seems to be a genre that, in my opinion, is more boring than a hit. For every “V / H / S” there are at least a dozen bad ones, such as “The Amityville Haunting” or every movie “Paranormal Phenomena” with a number after. So we bring us to 2022. I won’t lie, “Malibu Horror Story” isn’t necessarily a good title for a found horror movie, but never rate a movie by title or genre.

We begin with four paranormal researchers in a closed cave among the mountains north of Malibu, California. They are in this deserted place to film their latest episode and investigate what happened to four teenagers in 2012. For more stories about teens, the film shows how investigators demonstrate what work on the episode has already been completed. From now on, we are immersed in the found footage of investigators in their show, which contains newspaper clippings, interviews with law enforcement and, of course, found footage left by teenagers. The footage found to the general public showed only that the teenagers were rubbish. The search for the teenagers was almost over when the footage showed teenagers using drugs and playing more than they actually show what happened to them. So we can say that this is a technically found film in a found film or in a fake display of paranormal phenomena wrapped around a regular claustrophobic film. Either way, without delving into the thickest and embarrassing you, Malibu Horror Story structures the story like a puzzle so we can sit back and let the chaos and stories unfold as the pieces fall into place.

The setting and preconditions are actually very clever in that they never get too confusing, and they manage to give us enough explanations to explain things, making us crave more myths behind the cave and a potential Indian curse that is about to show our paranormal researchers that happens when they interfere in things they shouldn’t, like those teen-teens. The film has some effective deterrents when a monster / essence / ghost / thing appears. Of course, you have to wonder why teens went on when things clearly went wrong, as paranormal researchers find out they’re where they shouldn’t be.

If the characters continue to shoot, I always wonder if it is the desire of filmmakers or voyeurs in such a situation, because if I were in their place, I would use the camera as a blunt weapon to escape, instead of making sure that I correctly framed the monster. I am not the first to make such an observation, and certainly will not be the last. While “The Horror Story of Malibu” breaks the narrative form of the found footage, it can’t help but rely on trails to take us from point “a” to point “b”. “The Horror Story of Malibu” does not invent a wheel, but he manages to add to it a few neat spokes.

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