Found footage elevator, 1974 focuses on a serene, married couple begin to use a camera to film all of their mundanity on the rise of wife, Altair's (Diana Bovio) birthday. In careful and creepy follow up's to a night of partying and blissfully entangled in the activities of newlyweds, disorienting nightmares, non-responsive phone calls, and strange objects begin to appear and unsettle the pair, more husband, Manuel (Rolando Breme) than Altair. As time slowly passes, a few more people are involved in unfolding a mystery that only crescendos at the very end. 1974 is an extremely simple story, but it does manage to induce both dread and anticipation while leaving the mystery open for our imaginative devices.
Additionally, 1974 has a just-beneath-the-surface feel of a period piece that regards the turn towards Women's Liberation during its setting. In the year 1974, conferences took place with demands such as "legal and financial independence for all women," the U.S. Supreme Court hammered down anti-discrimination laws in consumer credit practices, the fight for fair wages, and equal rights for women in education, as well as being the founding year of the Mexican-American Women's National Association for all Latinas to have a safe space and resources to thrive. This all points to the heart of the tension in 1974 between Altair and Manuel. While he demands answers for her strange behavior, she's dismissive of his ignorance. When Manuel reaches out to Altair's sister, Tere (Blanca Alarcón) to tell her what's happening, he's left unsatisfied with her matter of fact response.
Manuel makes the mistake of the assumption that he knows his wife; her behavior is 'out of character' and Tere scoffs at his dream that doesn't consider Altair a person with dimensions. While refusing to actually listen and heed to Altair, his demise could be seen as much more sinister than the final moments suggest. While a fun and unnerving ride to share with a group of friends on a night in, 1974 successfully snips at gender dynamics that are recalled in narratives very much like Paranormal Activity (see Kier-La Janisse's portion on PA in House of Psychotic Women: An Autobiographical Topography of Female Neurosis in Horror and Exploitation Films for an excellent comparison), not just sharing the sub-genre of superlative found footage. This dynamic marries with the overall 80 or so minutes of watching a would-be prosperous marriage fall a part by the hands of some shady supernatural forces.
1974 takes out some of the "why film ___?" that is a common critique with found footage films, mostly because of the time period where motion cameras were not readily available to everyone. Growing up, any new piece of technology that brought people closer bordered on obsession between me and my peers, losing sleep on AIM or finding new ways to tinker with the latest gadget. Filmed mostly with an actual Super 8 camera, 1974 is one of the best spooky movies I hope you're going to see this year. Its simple premise will manage to any magnify personal fear on multiple levels.