I was perusing some of Netflix’s latest Instant Watch selections when I came across a title that surprisingly, I had never heard of. The film is about a group of bored high-schoolers who during one week in June, decide to take a camera along to document themselves as they pull pranks on the residents of a neighboring town. In between harassing the locals, the group also investigate the small town’s local legends. Its all fun and games until they start pissing off more and more locals, and their boredom-fueled antics turn deadly. The ratings for the movie weren’t that high, and some of the comments on the film’s IMDB page didn’t leave me too hyped up to watch it, aside for one detail…the film is of the “found footage” variety ala THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT — a film this one undoubtedly (and rightfully) will be compared to. I love this style of film when done correctly, and in the case of JUNE 9, they did alright. Check out the trailer for the film, and then check out my thoughts if you’re up to it.
Like animal attack movies, I’m admittedly a tad biased when it comes to the cinéma vérité style of filmmaking. As seen in recent films like PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, when in capable hands they can create some genuinely scary moments. When not handled correctly they can almost be impossible to sit through. Fortunately JUNE 9 isn’t anywhere close to the God-awfulness of THE ST. FRANCISVILLE EXPERIMENT, but some major flaws in the second-half of the film do keep it from being as effective as films like BLAIR WITCH and REC. However it does get just enough things right to create a some scenes of genuine creepiness and a finale that should make anyone who was left wondering “wtf just happened?” at the end of BLAIR WITCH, very happy.
Every town has their urban legends and the kids that dare themselves to go explore them. Hell I remember a “haunted” house in my town that me and my friends would go explore late at night. You didn’t really believe that the ghost of an old woman was creeping around inside, you knew the only thing in the dilapidated house that could hurt you was a rusty nail. But once you stood on the creaky porch at midnight staring into the dark rectangle where the front door once existed, you weren’t real keen on going inside to test your theory. This is where JUNE 9 works. As the kids explore certain locations of the small town, places like an abandoned church where Satanic rituals are said to be performed and an old school bus in the woods haunted by the children that were killed inside it, I was reminded of those nights trespassing with my friends as well as the rush you got from being legitimately scared shitless.
Even the large portion of the film spent following the friends around is completely passable as any of the numerous videos you see on Youtube showing jackasses documenting their misdemeanors for all the world to see. These scenes start to wear a bit thin as they are boringly authentic, but T. Michael Conway keeps a faint sense of dread present combined with the fact you already know something bad is going to happen, that keeps you engaged and willing to keep watching. But it’s the last act that started to wear on my patience a bit, even though that’s where the meat is. This is when more of the townspeople come into play and our teens make some decisions so unbelievably stupid that it really, really pulls you out of the movie. Even worse is the fact that these kids are placed in these particular situations for expositional reasons that weren’t needed in the first place. I’m not saying that JUNE 9 had to remain vague on exactly what was going on in the town of Boston Mills, but there was no need to explain everything.
Had about 15 minutes been trimmed from JUNE 9, specifically portions of the kids doing nothing and a ludicrous scene of a burglary, I feel this could’ve really been a much more effective film even if the plot is pretty much a direct clone of BLAIR WITCH. But it’s not terrible and fans of some of the films I’ve mentioned may want to give it a shot. As for me, I thought JUNE 9 was worth watching once and I’m giving it two-and-a-half sets of creepy twins, out of five.
Rating:Tags: Horror, movie, review