Title: Territorial Behavior

Also known as:

Year: 2015

Genre: Horror

Language: English

Runtime: 80 min

Director: Peter Bergin

Writer: Peter Bergin

IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2916772/

Survival specialist, Bailey Rhodes, heads out into the wilderness with a camera to record a new instructional video. While filming, he runs into a pair of crazy poachers who continue to follow and terrorize him over the next few days. While Bailey tries to find his way back to the main trail, he begins to realize the poachers were intentional herding him to a specific spot in the woods where an unknown creature lurks.

Our Thoughts:
No matter how many found-footage movies come out, and no matter how awful they are — and the vast majority are awful — I will always have a soft spot for them. The style has been labeled as cheap and lazy ever since “The Blair Witch Project” hit it big but it never struck me as such. I mean, the logistics of figuring out how the movie HAS to be shot, structured and edited to work is difficult to a point that it would be easier just to shoot it as a regular movie.

Then again, when you look at all of the movies that make up the found-footage genre, the cheap and lazy label has become fitting — the “Paranormal Activity” films being the worst culprits.

With that in mind, it was nice to see Peter Bergin approach “Territorial Behavior” in a much simpler manner with the technical aspects of his film. Reducing it down to a singular character who carries around two cameras, filming himself, makes the camera and editing within the context of the movie more purposeful. The fact that the character is a survivalist who’s making an instructional video, also helps in making the setup of the film feel more logical and plausible.

It doesn’t completely eliminate the holes in logic that can occur — there’s the issue of footage from a camera that was stolen being edited into the film that’s questionable — but again, it does simplify the technical aspects to make for easier viewing. You’re not immediately screaming, “that doesn’t make any sense” with every shot or every edit.

Instead of faulting when it comes to the logistics of the found-footage aspect, Bergin’s film comes up short in the actual horror department. For a horror movie, “Territorial Behavior” is incredibly dry; there’s a substantial lack of atmosphere and tension. This mistake can be linked back two things: sound design and pacing. The concept is there and makes the best out of what visuals it has available but because what it can show is so limited, it needed something else to make up for it. And that’s sound. When you’re alone, and out in the woods of all places, any and all sounds can be one of the most terrifying things.

I mean, most people lose their goddamn minds when they hear a strange sound in their own home when they are alone.

Because of that, the audio should have become the driving force behind the atmosphere — where you don’t know whether the noise you’re hearing is just the woods or some malevolent monster. And there is some sound design in place but it’s only used at specific times in the movie, so it becomes formulaic after awhile. You also have long stretches where there’s nothing occurring. To help build suspense, there needs to be uncertainty and escalation. Again, the only time there is audio in place is when the monster shows up and it’s only at night. Adding some incidents during the day could have helped — it would have also helped break up the monotony of the Bailey Rhodes character talking to the camera — and both the audience and the character should have been unsure as to whether what we were hearing was a monster or people.

The same can be said about the pacing. The key factor with any found-footage is never giving a clear indication of what’s occurring, so the scenes need to hit and they need to be quick. With “Territorial Behavior” every scene where there is an interaction feels too slow or goes on for too long. And I’m not referring to minutes; with a movie like this, even if a scene goes on for 5-seconds longer than it should, those 5-seconds can cause it to be underwhelming. Those moments have to be quick because it gives the audience just a taste of the horror, which creates tension through uncertainty.

It was a shame that “Territorial Behavior” is so close to being a good found-footage movie. Even though there are some genre tropes present in the film, overall, it manages to avoid most pitfalls created by logistical problems. However, Peter Bergin’s film still misses the mark because it lacks that punch that’s needed. As a result, “Territorial Behavior” comes across as dry because there’s no atmosphere and no tension.

Positive things:
- Better, logistically, in terms of setup/concept than most recent found-footage movies
Negative things:
- Incredibly dry. Lacks tension and atmosphere.

Gore: 0/5
Nudity: 0/5
Story: 2.5/5
Effects: 1/5
Comedy: 0/5

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