The Barbados Project (2022) is Typical Found Footage Let Down
Title: The Barbados Project
First Non-Festival Release: August 13, 2022 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Thomas Burke, Stockton Miller
Writer: Stockton Miller
Runtime: 60 Minutes
Starring: Cherah Belgrave, Brandon Blackman, Stockton Miller
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
In 2017, leaked footage showed a massive creature roaming along the coastline of Barbados. The government took great work to cover this up, but a team of investigative reporters (Cherah Belgrave, Brandon Blackman, Stockton Miller) make it their mission to tell the public what is happening in their country. They are dropped from their station, threatened by the government officials in charge, and out of barriers preventing them from achieving their mission. It isn’t until they all go missing and their footage is found years later that their fates become known to the select few who dare watch what remains.
Ambitious found footage horror is dampened by poor writing, acting, and special effects in The Barbados Project.
By revealing the monster so soon, the film loses its mystery instantly. It’s killed further once the audience is subjected to the rough special effects used to create the kaiju. Of course, this film is a low budget indie venture, but the decision to show its cards too early makes it hard to take seriously for the remainder of its short runtime. Additionally, when the effects work is painfully apparent, it takes the viewer out of the film.
Its lack of story makes for a difficult selling point as well. The mysterious footage that purportedly has been kept under wraps from the tiny island nation, with help of the United States, makes little sense. With an anomaly this big, it would be impossible to hide from citizens. While the film makes attempts to explain this away, namely that it’s all a giant conspiracy, it employs social media as a means of spreading the news. This kneecaps the entire idea of secrecy. Additionally, it is clear the writers had few ideas to work with for the film. Barely capping in at 60 minutes, The Barbados Project stretches its runtime with news broadcasts and social media posts to lengthen it as close to feature length as possible.
The leading performances aren’t convincing either. A typical pitfall of found footage films, the characterization and acting are after thoughts to the realistic portrayal of the terror onscreen. Since, The Barbados Project doesn’t have this, any hope of believability falls on its performers and the characters they create. Unfortunately, the cast behind The Barbados Project fails to rise to the occasion. Rambling, screaming, and other calling card mumblecore horror tropes are highlighted by the overly indulgent cast mates. It’s nice to see local talent get a chance at the big screen, but some more defined direction could have helped shape their performances better to serve the film.
Dogging on indie filmmaking is never fun and that is not the intention here. There are some bright spots within The Barbados Project that are worth mentioning. The creative spirit to tell a story as massive in scope as this is commendable. There are many moments within the film that, had the filmmakers been given a proper budget, they could have pulled it off. Its concept uses the country’s setting to its advantage to create new lore and give the country agency in its storytelling. While not wholly original, there are plenty of cool ideas within the film that point towards a bright future for the creative team should they get the chance to create more.
It’s important to note that the team behind The Barbados Project makes do with very little resources, but that doesn’t excuse every issue that befalls the film. Its plodding script filled with cliched, and circuitous dialogue dampens this aquatic adjacent horror film than its special effects budget does. Performances that range from dull to uninspired do not assist the project either. Overall, The Barbados Project is a generic and lifeless kaiju found footage film that survives most scrutiny due to the novelty of its location.
Overall Score? 3.5/10