Film Review: ‘Project Almanac’ underwhelms

The only way to make this movie good would be to use the time-travel device and release it before “Cloverfield” set the standard for POV films in 2008.

Project Almanac
Image courtesy of IMDb. “Project Almanac” was released on Jan. 30.

This is director Dean Israelite‘s film debut, and the first film in Paramount’s “Insurge” initiative, whose goal is to recreate the success of low-budget films like the “Paranormal Activity” series. “Project Almanac” attempts to bring something new to the found-footage genre, but ultimately fails.


The problem so many found-footage films have today is that there is no good premise for filming every … single … unimportant moment. If these movies are to be believed, then all teenagers are hyped up nymphomaniacs, who have some weird tendency to lug a cumbersome video camera around everywhere they go.

Good POV films give a good premise for the style. “Cloverfield” comes from having to film the going away party and goodbye messages. “As Above, So Below‘s” premise is the recording for an archaeology operation. Note the strange absence of dumb high school and college kids in those movies.

Jonny Weston
Image courtesy of IMDb.

The lead actor, Jonny Weston, is a 27-year old playing a 17 year-old high school nerd, David, who is trying to get into MIT. This guy looks nothing like the typical nerd at all. His picture on IMDb makes him look like one of the T-Birds from “Grease.”

Attention MTV studios: nerds are beautiful on the inside, no doubt, but they don’t all look like really, ridiculously good-looking male models.

Instead of stopping the Holocaust or 9/11, this group of teenagers and one obligatory hot girl just decide to fix their high school experiences, win the lottery and go to Lollapalooza … cough … MTV plug … cough … until they “shockingly” realize that time travel never ends well and that you should be careful what you wish for.

The trailer for “Project Almanac” pretty much goes through the entire plot as if you actually had some interest. Ultimately, nothing new is added to the time travel genre, no great jokes are made and the found-footage style doesn’t do anything that conventional camera work couldn’t have done better.

A more interesting film would have been the story of David’s dad, the creation of the time machine and the strange shutdown of Project Almanac. But, of course, no attention is paid to this, only the dull shenanigans of high school kids.

The film isn’t really terrible, just below average and not creative. My expectation for every film is that it brings something new or entertaining to the screen. It’s not incredibly difficult. “Project Almanac” failed to do so and left me utterly underwhelmed.

Oh, it was produced by Michael Bay. That explains everything.

Once again, there is too much time between now and the last great movie to come out, and we hesitantly look forward to the hopeful “Jupiter Ascending.”


Collegian A&E Film Beat Writer Morgan Smith can be reached at or on Twitter @MDSFilms.