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“You have to have a good ending.”

Everlasting posits itself as a found-footage film but ignores the concept whenever it wants to capture events outside the point-of-view frame. The film cheats at its premise so many times it’s worth asking why they bothered with the format at all. The found-footage genre has run aground of any creative directions to take lately, but this film is inconceivably atrocious.

Director/writer Anthony Stabley, better known for his work as art director on Stigmata and White Oleander, deliberately eschews the stylized look of those films to mirror a high school filmmaker’s documentary. The writer/director is too successful in that regard as the proceedings resemble a shoddy film class art project, replete with the most amateurish grandstanding one could possibly imagine. Not satisfied with creating a lazy found-footage flick, Everlasting is also a hackneyed mashup of Twin Peaks, teen angst, and every danger-of-stardom cliche ever made.

Jessie (Valentina de Angelis) is an aspiring actress, eager to escape Colorado for the bright lights of Los Angeles. Her boyfriend, Matt (Adam David), is along for the ride and documenting her dream being realized. After her parents’ divorce, Jessie’s dark descent leads her to violent-tinged behaviors that Matt finds troubling. While his initial concerns of Jessie’s move to L.A. resemble the insecure posturing of a teenage boy, Jessie winds up dead not long after. The murder goes unsolved, but soon Matt receives videos of Jessie’s murder. Matt foregoes handing the evidence over to the police because, in his childish understanding of the legal system, serial killers are frequently arrested and then set free because of technicalities. So he drives out West to personally solve Jessie’s murder by himself.

This attempt at heroics would be admirable if it weren’t just ego-stroking. As the film continues, Jessie becomes a prop to spur Matt’s quest for vengeance against her poor lifestyle decisions. Stabley hopes that Jessie reads like a popular character such as Twin Peak‘s Laura Palmer, but she and Matt feel like the product of aliens binge-watching bad teen soap operas and trying their hand at screenwriting. Whoppers like this line, “Like as if I lack ambition or I don’t get it, but, when, in reality, it’s you!” could only come from extra-terrestrial beings.

The leads give speeches instead of embodying any sort of emotion leaving their clothes and goth make-up to tell their stories for them. What Elisabeth Rohm and Pat Healy could have possibly seen in this script is beyond me, but hopefully, it came with a decent paycheck. To their credit, they didn’t have to hang around very long to collect.

Already a slight 83 minutes long, Everlasting‘s running time could easily be trimmed in half by removing the flurry of uninspired montages that stall the film at every go. Using a non-linear approach to telling a story can be refreshing, but as it’s used here, the film doesn’t find any footing for nearly 30 minutes. The film’s execution is as muddled as its genre, wildly veering from teen romance to serial killer hunt to a droll takedown of L.A. as a modern Sodom. If Everlasting succeeds in any regard, it will make viewers feel fortunate to know that nothing else released this year could be harder to sit through. The gauntlet for the worst film of 2017 has been thrown down.

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