Another day, another ‘found footage’ thriller. Closed Circuit (based on the novel Circuito Chiuso) is an English language horror movie set in Rome. On April 15th 2010, Francesca Pardi, 23, mysteriously disappeared into thin air. After months of searching with no success, two of her friends convince themselves that David De Santis is involved. The judge following the case doesn’t believe them.
Claudia and Daniele take the law into their own hands when they break into his house and set up spy cameras to find out the truth, but what they discover is about to tear their worlds apart. Claudia finds herself in the eye of the storm, about to witness first hand the full force of David’s terrifying secret. Amato’s adaptation of his own novel is formulaic, predictable and largely uneventful, but in the right hands Closed Circuit could have been so much more.
The spy cameras are put in place and nothing really happens for the first fifty minutes. That’s right, fifty excruciating minutes. Claudia and Daniele fool around as they set up the cameras but we don’t really get to know anything about them, certainly not enough to care when the shit hits the fan. The rest of the time is spent watching David go about his mundane existence. We watch him come home from work, drink beer, eat pizza and wander around the house in his pants – he scurries around in his pants an awful lot.
I’m sure this film would have found a larger audience had it starred Ryan Reynolds wandering around the house in his underwear, but David is an unattractive man, so the thought of watching him butt naked doesn’t appeal in the slightest. I should have gone with Emma Stone but you get the point. You’ll be pleased to know we get plenty of nudity in act two. Still, credibility is key when it comes to this kind of concept, so it does make sense that the opening act is a little on the slow side. David lives alone, except for the occasional neighbourly whore, so it stands to reason that his life isn’t particularly interesting to watch.
As the film progresses we learn that David is on the look out for a babysitter, but he’s not at all interested in the more ‘mature’ variety. As it turns out he’s partial to the occasional hot Russian university student – alarm bells should be ringing right about now. Being something of a social dinosaur, he comes across as creepy whenever he talks to the girls in broken English, so it’s hard to believe that they don’t make their excuses and get out of Dodge. But then again, we wouldn’t have much of a movie if they did make an early escape. I couldn’t quite work out why everybody was speaking English anyway; I suppose the use of subtitles would have lessened the overall effect of the ‘genuine’ camera footage.
It’s not until 48 minutes in that Amato delivers his first ‘shocking twist’. The only problem being, there’s nothing remotely intriguing about what takes place from here on in. The central premise is way too familiar, and the characters at the heart of the picture aren’t captivating enough to cover over the cracks. The sound effects are jarring too, proving a distraction whenever the movie changes camera. There are some nice touches littered throughout (captions appear on screen whenever we witness something that might be of interest to the investigation), neat little flourishes that add to the realism of the piece, but when you combine these moments with Claudia and Daniele’s tiresome exchanges and David’s laborious everyday routine, there’s just not enough to keep you enthused.
Had Closed Circuit delivered a rousing finale, we could have forgiven Amato for his cumbersome delivery. However, the ending is weak and predictable, and there’s little chance of you caring about Claudia’s fate. Much like the majority of ‘found footage’ thrillers made over the last few years, Closed Circuit is a slow, unsurprising and ultimately pointless horror hampered by weak performances and tiresome cliché. If Big Brother really is watching, you can bet your life he’s the only one. AW