Archivo 253

Archivo 253 is a movie that slavishly follows the found-footage formula. Group of paranormal hunters? Check. Group makeup: two or three guys and one woman? Check. Abandoned hospital/mental institute/house? Check. Demonic presence haunting the premises that we hardly see because no budget? Check. Lots of night-vision footage in that puke green light we’ve all come to know and love? Check!

Archivo 253 takes place in an abandoned lunatic asylum, just like Grave Encounters. Like most found-footage movies, the best part is the beginning as we watch interviews with people who bullshit about the legends behind the place that will soon kill our hapless heroes. An ex-patient mentions they used to hold exorcisms in the mental hospital, one of several interesting elements never followed up on.

Our amateur ghost hunters – three guys and a girl – break in. I think they are supposed to be students, but one of them is going bald. The place is falling apart, as usual. Our heroes wander around the premises in the dark (night vision footage, yay!) while we wait for something to happen, and that sums up the plot.

Archivo 253 looks like it was filmed on a micro-budget, so one expects the effects to be cruddy to nonexistent. Unfortunately, the writing is bad also. Nobody has a personality. I forgot everyone’s name but Diego, and the only reason I remembered his name is because the other characters spend the last twenty minutes of the movie screaming it.

On the plus side, Archivo 253 has a few good jump scares and one eye-opener when everyone’s sleeping. This movie also has the single greatest gadget in the history of found-footage films, beating out the lost map in The Blair Witch Project.

The Ghost Detector is a handheld device that looks like something you can buy at Radio Shack, which is probably where the filmmakers bought it. When ghosts are nearby, the Ghost Detector’s buttons flash. So our heroes get to say things like – ‘if you can see us flash two buttons.’ When you don’t have any money, creative touches like that go a long ways.

Unfortunately, even the Ghost Detector isn’t enough to save Archivo 253. This movie is for lovers of found-footage films only. Since I watch one of these movies every month, I guess I qualify…

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