A crew from media outlet Vice go to Eden Parish, a remote commune, after a relative invites them to come along.
Things are, predicatably, not what they seem in Eden, though we do get a more than competent addition to the found footage genre as we follow the group of filmmakers on the reunite a brother with his sister, whilst discovering the truth of the commune.
Eden Parish is run by the enigmatic and slightly threatening Father and appears to be a modern life Eden, choosing to avoid technology and the trappings of society in favour of a pseudo-religious life under The Father. There’s social inclusion, hymns and a sense of community, but there’s something chilling under the surface and the team from Vice are the people to find the truth.
Nobody can leave here alive.
Shot, primarily, on handheld cameras, it’s an effective use of the medium as we only see what the characters can see. It adds to the realism as the story unfolds in front of the cameras, with the colleagues searching for the truth whilst under the threat of The Father, his personal security force and the worshippers who will do anything to protect the sanctity of their community.
Ti West’s direction is superb in this addition to his growing catalogue. Shackled by the limits of handheld camera, he directs and writes much more admirably than in some of his previous efforts, and manages to create a film that is claustrophobic and chilling. Add to this the element of “post production” that gives it its Vice feel and it becomes a solid addition to his body of work.
As with many recent found footage films, there’s a sense of “where did that camera come from?” towards the end, but it doesn’t detract from an otherwise well executed film.
We were doing something great down here. We were gonna change the world. This was only the beginning.
Very much like Blair Witch before it, the whole story is told as if it were based on actual events (and there are nods to real life cults), with a slow burn method of story telling and a lack of the jump scares that have marred the “found footage” genre, nor does it go down the path of a supernatural evil that must be overcome. The performances throughout are convincing with the sense of threat coming to a satisfying climax that leaves you in no doubt as to just how far people will go for eden.