Part of the now somewhat limited appeal of found footage movies is that we’re watching something we shouldn’t be. At its best, it can help bring a sense of realness and immediacy, breaking down the barrier that is inherent in most work. At its very worst, entries into the genre bring nothing more than a lot of shaky camera work and people incoherently screaming. Unlisted Owner leans more towards the latter category.
Unlisted Owner centers on a house where people keep getting murdered. The movie opens with a series of cuts involving podcast and radio hosts talking about the house in question. It leads into the opening as the Roth family moves into their new home. Their daughter, Chloe (Chloe Benedict) is videotaping this momentous occasion. Before we even get to know the family’s name, they’re being dragged, bloodied, by an unseen assailant.
This quickly leads to the next group of people who become interested in the murder house. It consists of a bunch of twenty-somethings going on a camping trip: Jed (writer/director Jed Brian), Gavin (Gavin Groves), Tyler (Tyler Landers), Griffin (Griffin Groves), Andrea (Andrea Potts), and Haidee (Haidee Corona). Before going on their camping trip, the group decides that it would be a good idea to stop at the house and gawk at the murder victims. When they finally reach the campground that night, they quickly decide that it would be more fun to go back to the murder house and break-in.
A large portion of the run time doesn’t involve anything particularly scary or gruesome. The first hour is the characters arguing, drinking and driving, drinking while driving, and making very poor decisions. After opening the movie with a quick glimpse into the murder house, we don’t see it again until the last 20 minutes or so. What we are given instead plays out more like home movies from someone’s camping trip, rather than a found footage horror film. Watching these scenes over and over again gets tedious.
The characters are nothing more than underwritten horror movie cliches. They make crude jokes and question each other’s masculinity while drinking what seems to be a dangerous amount of alcohol. There’s nothing particularly likable about any of them, and more so than normal, as an audience, we look forward to the moment they finally reach the murder house and get butchered.
Except, when we finally get to the house, we don’t get the satisfaction of watching these characters get butchered by the mysterious assailant. Some of it happens offscreen, while other times the camera simply falls to the ground, and the victim gets dragged away. It’s an anti-climactic end to a cumbersome journey.
We are never given insight or offered an explanation of the killer. There is no exploration of any larger backstory or mythology about why these murders happen. They simply happen, then it ends. Not knowing what the group is up against or why makes it difficult to become invested in the fight.
While the bones of a good idea exist here, the execution isn’t just isn’t there. There’s nothing scary or exciting about Unlisted Owner, the characters are impossible to cheer for due to the poor choices they consistently make, and the killer is a faceless entity that we are never properly introduced to.
2 out of 10