The 16th Episode, written and directed by Jérôme Cohen-Olivar, is a perfect example of a horror film that thinks it is more profound than it actually is. The movie follows three YouTube personalities who host a travel web series as they unknowingly get involved in a ritual in the city of Casablanca, Morocco.
This film is extremely messy and chaotic, seeming like nothing more than a bunch of bad decisions (by both the characters and the filmmakers) from minute one. If one good decision was made, it was re-titling the movie. Originally, this film was going to be called “Little Horror Movie”. The 16th Episode isn’t much better, but at least it isn’t as diminutive.
The story jumps all over the place and tries to do so many things that it is eventually too hard to keep up with what is happening. You will be left with so many questions by the end of the movie that you will just be happy that the movie is over. The supernatural elements of the story are particularly ridiculous and convoluted, so if you are looking for a satisfyingly-written ghost story, this is not one you want to watch.
Furthermore, the film fails at being scary or suspenseful because it is just that bad. Granted, it isn’t quite to the level that it is so bad it’s funny — it’s just bad to the extent that it is frustratingly bland and boring. In that case, you almost wish it were worse, though, so you could at least enjoy laughing at how bad it is.
You can’t fault the movie for lack of ambition, but it has that ambition in the wrong areas. The film desperately wants to include meta-humor, but it is incorporated so inconsistently and ineffectively that it goes nowhere. The editing is also a swing and a miss, attempting to combine elements of found footage and traditional horror to no avail. The result ends up being horribly confusing.
The movie doesn’t do anything to develop its characters. They can’t even be called archetypal because they barely have personalities. They are simply another group of horror movie imbeciles that don’t seem to have any common sense or understanding of basic logic. It is nearly impossible to form an emotional connection with anyone in the film because they are simply so flat.
That said, even though they are given very little with which they could work, the actors do try their hardest to make the movie work. The three leads, Einar Kuusk, Cody Heuer, and Rebecca Ramon, have solid chemistry together and make for a believable dynamic. Rosine Young plays the antagonist in a fun and over-the-top way. Surprisingly, the cast makes the film almost watchable.
The 16th Episode besmirches the name of Casablanca. At least Cohen-Olivar did try to do something unique, which is more than can be said of some other B-horror movies to come out recently, but it is a failure on pretty much every level.
The 16th Episode hits theaters and VOD on June 28.