Malibu Horror Story Review

Malibu Horror Story
Malibu Horror Story
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Movies like Malibu Horror Story, show that no subgenre is dying as horror movements and modern technology grow together. Found footage has transformed from the shaky cam to the computer-based “Screenlife” stories, deranged smartphone livestreams, or Scott Slone’s new take on slasher found footage – a blend of prime-time true crime program and interrupted documentary shoots. This is not to say that it hasn’t been done before in movies such as The Poughkeepsie Tapes or A Horrifying Way to Die in High Desert which both had talking head commentary but Malibu Horror Story has a slight twist on the concept when paranormal investigators go against native evils before their special even happens. The film sometimes feels that the cave-dwelling frights fail to equal its structure for a refreshing feel, but this provides enough topicality.

Ghost hunters have set up camp at a sacred California cave where four teenagers previously vanished and this forms the basis of Malibu Horror Story. Josh Davidson (Dylan Sprayberry) and his three collaborators want answers but there are horrors in what happened with those students who went missing right there inside the cavern Slone doesn’t hesitate about exploiting them for his purposes. The film doubles down on its action sequences through camera trickery that stretches the realism of what we see from a cinematography point-of-view — all found-footage movies must answer “Who’s holding the camera? Why is it on?” all time.” Before showing him documentary footage she edited with some newly recovered clips, Josh’s editor Jessica (Rebecca Forsythe) flips Jake Torrance’s (Tommy Cramer) perspective to party hardy bros during their last hike ever. Josh is deep into the cave already; equipment rigs everywhere around him; unearthing whatever they’ve likely just awoken with spirit-welcoming devices – it’s quite a good setup for potential thrills.

There are quite a number of things happening: It’s found-footage Descent on Indian burial grounds. The mention of shamans and otherworldly guardians reveals that a territorial invasion has occurred in America ever since the first settlers, and with it came more than just a granny demon. Skinwalkers, virtual streaks in video footage, and sacrificial gore shots all reveal a hunter who does not care for any life in the cave. Then Slone adds features like infrared vision for seeing through absolute darkness or non-existent special effects upon organ-removing deaths. Malibu Horror Story really fleshes out its mythological underpinnings and goes for your heart Indiana Jones-style giving us many great visuals.

However, Slone did struggle to make things feel tight and oppressive over the course of certain stretches. As Above, So Below or The Pyramid lock us into small spaces both physically and literally with only a few characters present but this is absent from Malibu Horror Story as it fails at selling its enclosed rocky labyrinth thrills She doesn’t do much screaming when it should be sending chills down our spines given how “Twisty” Troy James can put himself into such twisted positions. Although there is an eerie dankness about his cavern filled with indecipherable hieroglyphics, there are moments when some key scares appear way too flat to have any life inside them. Hyper-aggressive scenes of snarling demons pouncing on foolish filmmakers don’t translate into the terror it should; Slone’s good ideas fall short in their execution.

People who follow found-footage clichés might also be irritated with characters who keep making choices that lead the story inescapably to disaster. The curse on the Torrance family and their campsite, alluded to by Jake, is only a small part of what’s going on. Josh’s engineer Matt (Robert Bailey Jr.) runs towards immediate danger without hesitation like he wants to be dead and there is a scene of a fork in cave tunnels leading one character suggesting splitting up. You may forgive the “Horror 101” aspect of it all because it results in some cool glimpses of woodsy terror.

Basically two movies unravel: the true-crime investigation and the straightforward demonic confrontation. Slone does well to argue for both sides here but has more trouble with Josh’s shoot than with Jake’s boy gang getting ripped apart. All the hiking footage feels genuinely chaotic, while later cave explorations adopt a cleaner fly-on-the-wall aesthetic. Act three supplies us with some good creature shots from time to time though not always when they are needed most. Team Josh gets shown Team Jake’s footage as Malibu Horror Story brings down an unbalanced experience.


Scott Slone’s Malibu Horror Story rests on solid ground, its concept is innovative; however, its back-and-forth nature makes the film seem haphazardly put together sometimes. Paranormal investigators recover terrible footage of kids being cursed by indigenous people before facing that same evil but with fewer horror effects at that point. It eventually becomes something worth trying out – stretching boundaries of found footage schematics – even though its final form is flawed and not every gear works perfectly after all while still making sense due to having been influenced by high-ranked films within this genre.

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