13 Sherwood Avenue (2023) Movie Review – No Budget Found Footage

Horror | 72 Min
13 Sherwood Avenue (2023) Horror Movie Review
  • Director: Richard Mansfield
  • Actors: Chris Sims, Daniel Mansfield, Jonathan Cleaver, Kelly Goudie, Caroline Nash
  • Writers: Richard Mansfield
  • Producers: Richard Mansfield, Daniel Mansfield
  • Country: United Kingdom
  • Language: English
  • Parental: Language
  • Horror | 72 Min

In January 2023 a man was found dead in his home. The events were captured on his home's AI Smart security system. In the days up to his death his smart devices seemed to be making contact with a the spirit of someone who died there.

Welcome to Knockout Horror. Today we are reviewing English Found Footage horror movie 13 Sherwood Avenue. I suppose you would class this as a paranormal horror as a man’s home assistant devices (think Alexa, Google etc) begin making contact with a spirit. But I suppose you could throw in some home invasion stuff and a few mental illness themes, as well, to spice things up. Yeah, it’s not exactly the most inspired plot in the world but what were you expecting when reading the words “no budget found footage”? 

Found Footage used to be a genre for innovation. Now it is a genre for throwing as much shit at the wall as possible and seeing what sticks. As you can probably guess, you can find this movie right now on Tubi. I took a little break from the slow form self flagellation that is low budget horror on Tubi to take a look at a few other streaming services. But I figured it was time to grab the whip once more and get back into it. 

A One Person Show

This movie was made by Richard Mansfield and it is not his first. Nope, not by a long shot. In fact, he seems to put out a couple of these no budget found footage horror movies every year. Mansfield not only directs but also writes, produces and is responsible for the cinematography.

That’s a lot of work for one person. It’s kind of remarkable when you think about how different the movie industry is today. Due to the affordability of cameras and equipment. As well as the proliferation of online streaming services. People can put out movies and have them featured on well known platforms with what is, essentially, a skeleton crew. Even, as the case is with Mansfield, throwing out a number of movies a year.

While you could make the argument that it might be difficult to maintain a high standard when producing at this kind of clip. Some directors make it work. Some directors never seem to stop but still manage to consistently produce above average content. Richard Mansfield, on the other hand, does not. My only experience with Mansfield is the movie we are looking at today. But it would be fair to say that his movies are looked upon fairly negatively.

Generally Poorly Received

Many of Mansfield’s movies receive rather negative reviews on IMDB and many of his movies feel like the same idea recycled over and over. Someone investigates a haunting, some bad shit happens, a person goes missing and police find the footage. It’s all very copy and paste. An idea that can be remoulded and reframed repeatedly with minimal effort. In fact, Mansfield doesn’t even go out of his way to mix up the locations too much.

13 Sherwood Avenue (2023) Horror Movie Review

If these movies are anything to go by. You are going to want to stay the hell away from any street with Sherwood or Mansfield in the name. Because those places are seriously dangerous with three movies bearing the Sherwood name and two bearing the Mansfield name.. In fact, can we just address that for a second. Did he name the street in some of his movies after himself? That clearly isn’t coincidence, how strange. Whatever, we aren’t here to go off of what IMDB thinks about Mansfield’s films. We are here to look at 13 Sherwood Avenue; so how does it hold up?

A Slightly Different Plot

13 Sherwood Avenue actually deviates somewhat from Mansfield’s typical formula. Instead of somebody investigating a haunted house. We have a home AI system seemingly communicating with a spirit. Leading to all sorts of shenanigans and scares for our resident protagonist David (Chris Sims) as he struggles to come to terms with what is happening.

13 Sherwood Avenue (2023) Horror Movie Review

The home assistant sends messages he didn’t want it to send, it ignores his requests, it does things he doesn’t want it to do and so on and so forth. It’s pretty much your standard Alexa experience for the most part. With David going through the all too familiar issues that most people are probably used to when they decide to transform their home into a smart home. With how much I have to repeat myself to Alexa and my fiancee, I feel like a parrot so I sympathise with David’s plight. Does it make for good horror, though?

Just a Bit Silly

Being perfectly honest, not really, and why would it? While the idea is, at least, somewhat innovative. The real fear with home assistant systems is snooping and spying. Not them engaging in intimate liaisons with the undead. If anything untoward happens with Alexa, I just see it as one of the quirks of this type of service. Being completely honest, they are a bit shit.

13 Sherwood Avenue (2023) Horror Movie Review

They mishear you, they do things you don’t want them to do, and sometimes they speak to you unprompted. Hell, every time I ask Alexa to “open the bar” she greets me with a loud “MEOW!!” before opening an app called “Box of cats”. It is infuriating but never even remotely scary. The core concept here is flawed because it is just not at all scary. 

The way Mansfield has chosen to illustrate the home assistant’s spirit based interference is a bit ridiculous, as well. When shenanigans are afoot, the assistant glows red which feels beyond camp and silly. Heavy breathing comes through the speaker, a generated voice reads out random stuff, things fall off work surfaces. It simply doesn’t make for decent horror content and really doesn’t work.

Extremely Slow

On top of that, 13 Sherwood Avenue’s pacing can only be described as glacial. A big part of the problem here is that the weird system glitches and so called scares start happening straight away. There is no build up or attempt at scene setting. No crafting of tension or atmosphere and no moments of normalcy to contrast the horror scenes against. The movie begins and within minutes things are going wrong. 

13 Sherwood Avenue (2023) Horror Movie Review

This results in the 1 hour and 12 minute runtime being crammed full of mundane scare after mundane scare. Something which you become numb to almost immediately and leads to the movie feeling twice as long as it is. There’s only so much you can do with a few home assistant devices and a couple of cameras. Certain techniques are drastically overused and lose their effectiveness instantly. While others never manage to come close to being scary.

A Fairly Interesting Story

Everything that happens in 13 Sherwood Avenue is very self contained and lacking in scope. The story is pretty interesting but doesn’t have room to breathe. Mansfield does try to keep things dynamic with a somewhat amusing social media influencer side story. But this does little to help outside of providing a few laughs. There are hints at a somewhat interesting backstory which ties into the plot later on. But it isn’t really fleshed out or given any time to develop. Leading to it feeling like a lot was left on the table.

The story here has potential and is pretty easy to engage in. But it really falls apart due to the paranormal elements. 13 Sherwood Avenue would have benefited from being more of an exploration into human paranoia rather than spirits hijacking electronic devices. It is a slave to its desire to be a ghost story. Something that works to its detriment. I would have preferred to learn more about David and the things he has been through. Rather than spend so much time focusing on red glowing AI assistants and things creeping around in the background.

Technically Fine

Mansfield’s writing and direction is okay. Dialogue feels pretty natural and he hits on some of the more comical moments of conversation between the limited cast. Camera quality is decent though I didn’t appreciate some of the perspectives and the almost fish eye lens nature of many of the shots. There is something of a screenlife feeling to the movie in parts which I enjoyed. It is a bit of a guilty pleasure for me.

13 Sherwood Avenue (2023) Horror Movie Review

Pacing is poor. This movie drags tremendously in parts and lacks in high points. So few of the scares work that it become a laborious exercise in watching one man yell at his home assistant devices. If I wanted to watch that I would slap a mirror in front of myself as I get on with my day.

Acting is fine. Chris Sims seems pretty natural on camera and does a good job for the most part. Caroline Nash, as Amanda, is good and seems very confident in her line delivery. Her interactions with David feel very natural and Kelly Goudie gets a few laughs as influencer Jenna-Marie thanks to her character’s rather abrasive nature. 

Final Thoughts and Score

This is a difficult movie to rate because it’s not glaringly bad like Happy Birthday or #Float. It’s just not that interesting and a bit difficult to recommend. It feels very very slow. There aren’t any scares, the fairly interesting backstory is under-developed, there is limited action and limited reason to invest in what is going on. You are, basically, just watching a man yell at a home assistant device for over an hour. Nothing more and nothing less.

I kind of appreciate what Richard Mansfield is doing here. He is just having a bit of fun making found footage movies that demand very little in the way of resources and giving a few friends acting jobs. It’s hard not to appreciate the effort. This just feels a bit lacking, though. If you have a high tolerance for no-budget found footage, you might find that this is a suitable gap filler. Otherwise, I can’t imagine you will find a great deal here to enjoy.

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