Thomas (Thomas Mann) is the typical high school nerd; most people hate him, he can’t get any women and his only friends are fellow nerds Costa (Oliver Cooper) and J.B. (Jonathan Daniel Brown). In the pursuit of fame, glory, and women, Costa decides to take advantage of Thomas’ parents leaving the house for the weekend by hooking up connections and inviting what might be the entire population of Pasadena, California for a party at Thomas’ house. Through the perspective of a camera wielding AV Club member from the high school (Dax Flame), we see how Thomas’ party goes from your average high school escapade to complete and utter chaos within just a few hours. Midgets, tasers and raging fires ensue.
The found footage style of filmmaking is officially nothing new anymore. We’re far from the days when The Blair Witch Project scared audiences into thinking it was real and are firmly in the period where we get at least one a month, whether it be The Devil Inside, a Paranormal Activity sequel or even last month’s Chronicle. Speaking of which, Chronicle sort of marked a bit of a change up in terms of mainstream found footage fair, going from the horror genre to the science fiction/super hero genre. Project X marks another genre’s first foray into the found footage genre: the comedy. However, while Chronicle used its found footage technique to develop its characters in a more personal manner, Project X does it to poorly show the characters’ slide into debauchery. These three leads are all unlikable in there own different ways; Oliver Cooper is the biggest wannabe hustler who deserves to get throttling by school yard bullies for his obnoxious actions, Jonathan Daniel Brown has a personality so non existent that he just becomes background dressing and Thomas Mann manages to go from being potentially likable to a pretty dull hallow version of the lead nerd from a John Hughes movie.
That’s an apt word to describe Project X: hollow. The characters have no depth to them, the plot really doesn’t exist in any shape or form and the script from Michael Bacall (whom co-wrote Scott Pilgrim vs. The World strangely enough) and Matt Drake doesn’t really provide much of any depth to the attempts at a story, like a relationship blossoming between old friends Thomas and Kirby (Kirby Bliss Blanton). Yet, the film’s most successful feature is the one thing that doesn’t really require much depth at all: the party. The way director Nima Nourizadeh films these party scenes is a real testament to the found footage technique, giving the audience a personal atmospheric plunge into the ultimate party gone awry. Most of this is thanks to a blasting sound mix and some superb cinematography from Ken Seng. Plus, Bacall and Drake manage to build the chaos of the party quite well, topping themselves with each ludicrous event after another. All of this maybe shallow, but at least it is entertaining in a beautiful chaos sort of fashion.
In a way, despite its huge shortcomings, Project X is the perfect high school party movie; you go to a high school party to have a hell of a lot of fun, but it doesn’t give you much to think about and you end up hating most of the people there. Then again, NO parties I’ve ever gone to (high school or not) have pools filled with topless women or angry midgets. I got gipped!