The Objective

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The Objective

Whatever else he may do, director Daniel Myrick will always have the words "Blair Witch Project"attached to his name.Judging from his work on The Objective, that may be the way he likes it, since the film in large part reprises what Blair Witch did earlier but without all the faux-cinema-verite trappings.Jonas Ball plays a CIA agent searching for a massive radiation silhouette spotted by spy satellites in Afghanistan. With him is a small group of special ops soldiers, assigned to protect him from what may lie in wait for them in the post-9/11 country.The group soon finds itself lost in the desert and under attack by some unknown supernatural force.

Release Date: Feb. 6 (limited)

Director: Daniel Myrick

Writers: Daniel Myrick, Mark A. Patton and Wesley Clark Jr.

Cinematographer: Stephanie Martin

Starring: Jonas Ball, Matthew R. Anderson, Jon Huertas, Sam Hunter, Jeff Prewett

Studio/Run Time: IFC Films, 104 mins.

Despite this familiarity, the film still stands apart from other horror films, perhaps because the easy lesson drawn from Blair Witch’s successwas its style rather than its substance.The Objective operates on the same slow-burn principle for horror, where by the time characters realize something paranormal is happening it’s already too late.The most ominous moment that occurs before the film is already practically over involves soldiers worrying about dehydration when the water in their canteens turns into sand. But the feeling that something is going wrong is evident from almost the very beginning, so that even the smallest occurrence feels like a step deeper into the abyss for The Objective’s characters.

The soldiers never really overcome their role as semi-anonymous grunts, which means the only real characters are the agent and a local guide he hires, who seems added to the party just so someone can constantly remind everyone that the area is cursed.Unfortunately, Jonas Ball seems at best miscast as the CIA agent and at worst like he was an extra who was hired on the spot when the real lead forgot to show up.Bell also gives a noir-tinged voice over to help emphasize that something isn’t right, which seems just as out of place as his acting.

This makes it so that The Objective never works as a full-on character-based horror film, nor does it offer the jumpy thrills of the genre’s straight-to-DVD efforts.But this doesn’t take away from how creepy it is, nor from the audacity of using this type of setting.Even with its uber-clichéd last five minutes, The Objective may be one of the smartest horror movies this year.

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