Studio: IFC Midnight
Director: Daniel Simpson
Writer: Daniel Simpson, Adam Preston
Producer: Laurie Cook, Jason Newmark, Will Clarke, Paul Higgins
Stars: Danny Shayler, Abbie Salt, Robert Curtis
A trio of amateur treasure hunters on an excursion in Rendlesham Forest stumbles onto evidence of a UFO-related military cover-up.
I’ll be swift and to the point. “Hangar 10” is the embodiment of everything that gives “found footage” its popularly unfavorable reputation.
Feel free to stop reading right there and find a more beneficial way of occupying your time. That is exactly what I wanted to do well before “Hangar 10” reached its halfway point. Unfortunately for me, respectable film criticism demands viewing a movie in its entirety, just as it requires an elaboration beyond the preceding paragraph’s two succinct sentences.
Gus is a metal detecting enthusiast of some sort with a plan to pilfer the soil of private property in the Rendlesham Forest of Suffolk. Rendlesham achieved some real-life notoriety in 1980 after a series of sightings alleging strange lights and alien spacecraft turned the area into the United Kingdom’s version of Roswell. Gus isn’t keen on all the extraterrestrial hullaballoo, though. His interest lies solely in amateur treasure hunting of rare coins reportedly littering the land.
Joining Gus on his journey into trespassing territory is his girlfriend Sally and their mutual friend Jake, who is much more fascinated with capturing Sally on camera than anything Gus might dig from the dirt. A love triangle element exists among the trio, but calling it a subplot would be an exaggeration. Jake’s puppy dog crush neither blooms into a romance with Sally nor culminates in open conflict with Gus. It’s what the movie considers characterization, although it is basically one more undeveloped bit of background that dies on the vine faster than you can raise a hand to smother a yawn.
Instead, the only three-way engaged in is a tie for least magnetizing personality. Once the movie bores of banal banter and woodland wandering, which happens long after the audience reaches its own boiling point, Gus the gruff grump, Jake the charmless creep, and Sally the nondescript bore eventually find themselves lost in the forest, chased through the darkness by something unseen, and generally running through a commonplace checklist of “found footage” clichés.
They search for their car, for a footpath back to the road, and for each other when they become separated. Meanwhile, what the trio needs to find more than anything is a completed screenplay that makes some semblance of sense. Like the worst of the subgenre’s primary offenders, “Hangar 10” sends its actors into the trees half-cocked with only a loose concept instead of a clear story, and wishful enthusiasm that Rendlesham’s location and lore will fill in mystique that the movie can’t generate.
Dialogue often sounds as if it was filtered through a megaphone prior to recording. Not because the levels are loud, but because the audio crackles with errant static and muted distortion, like the microphones were scraping against sandpaper or gauze the entire time.
A couple of desktop software digital effects light up the skies on occasion and feature prominently in the finale. By no means are these composite shots spectacular, although they are less of an eyesore than the remainder of the movie. The only light is natural. Blacks are muddy and washed out. Night images are hard to see and numerous shots are regularly out of focus and jittery. Not only does “Hangar 10” plagiarize the plots of numerous “found footage” films that have come before, but it lifts all of their most common technical trappings, too.
“Hangar 10” looks bad, sounds bad, has dull characters, and a lame story. A gun to the head forcing someone to come up with an incentive for watching the film could only result in a bullet to the brain.
“Hangar 10” wouldn’t be compelling even in a world where “The Blair Witch Project” had not opened the floodgates on a rushing river of lazy filmmaking, poor production values, and improvised scripts. 15 years later, new entries in the “found footage” realm must bring something more to the dance besides three coal lump personalities shouting at darkness while lost in the woods.
If you have a hankering for UFO-related thrills in a first-person format, consider "Alien Abduction" (review here), "Skinwalker Ranch" (review here), or "Unaware" (review here). None of those are terribly exciting, but neither is “Hangar 10.” It’s a start to finish snore.
Review Score: 20