Project X is stupid. Not because of the kids throwing the party that somehow draws 1,500 people. Not because it actually expects an audience to be convinced that only one neighbor would call the cops on a party stretching across multiple lawns. Not because it actually pulls a Lethal Weapon 4 and introduces a flamethrower (!) to the proceedings.
No, Project X is stupid because it glorifies the appallingly idiotic actions of three teenagers by turning them into high school superstars. Despite hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage, a police record, and a sapped college fund, Project X ends happily with a chanting run down school halls, and Thomas (Thomas Mann) still getting the girl.
This is the ultimate junk food for a generation raised on social networking and cell phones, a peak into an absurdest dream of what socializing in 2012 can be if you’re 17. Undoubtedly, there’s someone out there who will attempt it too. In actuality, someone did to the tune of $20,000 in damages, which is a pittance compared to the flagrant violations depicted here.
Project X doesn’t even quantify itself as filmmaking genius, or even an innovator. The concept of being found footage is totally lost as the party brings forth a SWAT team, deleting the sense that characters are filming the event. Every attempt to set this up via personal video cameras and cell phones collapses when the view comes from directly behind the police as they march forward. Project X doesn’t care because the intended audience won’t either.
It’s a dreadful bore as well, infinitely uncreative as character names match those of the actors and droning on with music that only exists as headache fuel. There are times where Project X doesn’t have any direction or purpose, solidifying its uselessness as a film by the time a dog is airlifted by a bunch of balloons. Who brought the helium, and what high school party with this much booze has birthday balloons on hand in the first place?
That’s asking a lot from a movie that introduces a flamethrower-wielding madmen in the closing moments, if only because it has no other means of escalating a party that has long since broke boundaries. Desperation doesn’t even begin to encapsulate how utterly mind numbing this exercise in teenage exploitation is, or how devastating this depiction of our youth becomes. Get off my lawn, or better yet, get off the movie screens.
Project X was captured (mostly) with the Sony CineAlta F23, funny since that’s a system that could run $15,000, yet a high school kid is running around with one as if it’s nothing. Say what you will for suspension of disbelief and quality concerns, but Project X clearly didn’t care elsewhere.
So yes, the film will run the gamut from low grade handheld cameras to even lower grade cell phones back up to the Sony. Consistency doesn’t favor this one once the party reaches its peak. From unbelievable layers of source compression to a constant buzz of noise, all of the decent material is exhausted in the first half hour or so.
Taking just the main camera footage into consideration, Project X isn’t that bad, or rather, nowhere near as visually damning as other found footage clunkers. There’s no need for elaborate effects or set ups, so it’s rather freeing in a genre obsessed with making the unreal, real. Colors have a nice density to them and black levels are fine. There’s a consistent base to work with that is at least a little appealing.
Project X doesn’t fit in much in the way of fine detail, close-ups too shaky to appreciate much of anything anyway. The few stable exteriors are passable, and the daylight footage will contain a few winners. Some minor flicker on fine lines is not much more than a mild annoyance, and the on-screen graphics (for news reports portrayed as live) are crisp.
The DTS-HD track synced up with the action is entirely one note: A loud party. Okay, that’s the film too, but there’s nothing particularly special with the mix. Early on, a car or two will pan in from the sides showing that the stereos are there for more than rowdy teens. Then, it’s blaring music that blows up the low-end and lots of yelling.
Any excitement in the audio comes before the closing moments when the flamethrower goes nuts, spinning flames around the neighborhood although without much in the way of direction. Most of it flatlines in the fronts without too much traveling and an explosion is routine. If you want to be the center of the party, the disc will suffice. If you’re seeking something special or radical in terms of design, that’s not part of this effort.
Project X: Declassified is the opening bonus feature, a five-minute fluff piece that certainly delves into the realm of the promo. Pasadena Three spends another five talking about casting, while Tallying up the Damage details each destructive bit while assigning an arbitrary dollar amount. Note the disc also contains an extended cut that adds a few minutes to the feature.