‘The 16th Episode’: One Episode Too Many

by Christian Ramos on June 28, 2019

in Print Reviews,Reviews

[Rating: Minor Rock Fist Down] 

Found-footage horror is usually pretty hit or miss. Sometimes you have great ones like [REC] or The Blair Witch Project and most times you’ll have really … just shitty ones. The 16th Episode, though actually a rather scary movie, isn’t really a successful found-footage horror flick. In fact, I can’t help but wonder if this is considered found footage because of a lot of the different POVs going around this movie throughout. Directed by Jérôme Cohen-Olivar and starring a good chunk of unknowns, The 16th Episode takes us into the world of YouTube and shows what all a young group of filmmakers will do to elevate their viewership, making them more successful. 

Helen (Rebecca Ramon), Einar (Einar Kuusk) and Mark (Cody Heuer) are three filmmakers who make their mark on YouTube. They travel the globe trying to get the next big project going from some of the world’s most dangerous countries. They find themselves arriving in Casablanca and looking at the landscape of the glorious city. They meet a man who invites them to his niece’s wedding. This however, like any horror trope will tell you, is not good.

The man who claims to be a tour guide of the city drives the three around in circles, and tells them traffic is very heavy at night, when in reality, there’s virtually nobody on the street. This scares Einar who doesn’t trust the man and immediately attacks him to be let out of his vehicle. Soon, they meet Mrs. Frangier (Rosine Young) and she offers them rooms to stay in at a very abnormal cheap price. This of course is where everything goes downhill. Helen starts vomiting up blood, crawling up walls, and finding herself with a very deep, almost demonic voice attached to her – all in the fun of vacation! This of course scares the guys as they try to understand what the hell is happening, and why Einar might know given his past history with Helen and his knowledge of, you guessed it…demonic possession! 

What I would like to focus on is the filming technique. I keep bringing up “found footage” because for the most part, this feels like it. We see the characters from the POV of Mark’s camera and yet it constantly flips back and forth between a camera we know and see and one we don’t, turning it into a standard narrative. That got annoying very fast, because it takes away a lot of the focus of the movie. If it just stays on Mark’s camera, there would have more tension buildup.

There’s one great scene that has Mark and Einar commenting on how “in horror movies the camera always faces the actors not the demons” and then they look directly into the camera. That’s great stuff to build on, but again it falls short. Another downside is the pacing of it. The worst scary movies feel like they go on forever, and this was one of them. It’s less than 90 minutes but feels more like two hours, not to mention a lot of the movie you can’t see because of the poor lighting. At least in the long run it was scary-ish.

Overall, The 16th Episode is more like YouTube clickbait. It’s a classic rick-roll of a movie that wants you to take it seriously, but in the end the final product isn’t worth it. It crosses a weird line between found footage and just a straight-up horror movie that never decides even at the very end what it wants to do with itself. 

Christian Ramos is a recent graduate of KU with a B.A. in Film & Media Studies. When he’s not watching movies, he likes to brag about the pointless Oscar trivia he knows, remembers that time he dressed as Steven Spielberg for Halloween and shows off his tweet that Julianne Moore liked.

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