Found Footage 3D
A group of filmmakers sets out to make the first 3D found footage horror movie, but find themselves IN a found footage horror movie when the evil entity from their film escapes into their behind-the-scenes footage.
Scott Allen Perry
Alena von Stroheim
My avid readers of 2 will know how often I’ve complained about, berated and generally hated on so many of the found footage films which slide across my desk (and hopefully into the trash). There may be a few exceptions to my belief that the original The Blair Witch Project is the only one that has ever been worthwhile (none come to mind at the moment – wait, this year’s #Screamers was pretty damn good), but overall, I’ve practically reached the end of my rope with first person footage, and a running and bouncing around camera; as a character runs away (usually through some woods) in this found footage nonsense.
Screamfest saw the LA premiere of writer/director Steven DeGennaro’s Found Footage 3D.
Hysterically wonderful and full of characters throwing off one-liners and harsh quips which could have been pulled from any number of my very own found footage movie reviews – Found Footage 3D is destined to become an instant horror/comedy classic.
A minute indie film crew of six travels to a rundown, apparently truly haunted house in a rural area outside of El Paso, Texas to shoot a found footage horror film about an estranged couple who travel to this cabin/house and come into contact with the “Spectre of Death” (the film within a film’s title). You’ve got director Andrew (Tom Saporito), male lead and “Spectre” screenwriter Derek (Carter Roy of this year’s Monsterland), female lead and Derek’s “real-life” ex-wife Amy (Alena Von Stroheim), production assistant Lily (Jessica Perrin), sound guy Carl (Scott Allen Perry) and Mark – Derek’s younger brother and behind-the-scenes cameraman. They’ve chosen to make their mark on the tired found footage subgenre, by shooting the film entirely in 3D – and that includes all of the behind-the-scenes footage captured by Mark. But as they move further into production, their cameras begin to capture some actual “spectres” and things turn deadly. Add into this wackiness – a “set visit” from film critic Scott Weinberg (in the film, representing FearNet) and the entire thing turns ultra-meta.
Please note that I mentioned all six of the lead characters and the actors who played them. Usually, I’ll try to focus on the stand-outs, but in Found Footage 3D, there really are none – because they’re all fantastic! Those who have kept up on my reviews, know that I am a sucker for ensemble pieces, and when the ensemble is as strong as this one, well… I can’t help but swoon. They’re all specific characters, certainly playing into their various stereotypes (perfectly matching the cliché nature of the film itself), but there’s not a misstep to be found as far as authenticity. It’s a constant gripe of mine (specifically in found footage films) that things need to feel real, in order to buy into the world these bouncing cameras are meant to capture. And adding to the fun are the rather wooden performances of von Stroheim and Roy when they’re meant to be “acting”. These six actors gave it their all and every acting choice they make – pays off.
And in a complete negation of what I said in the previous paragraph about stand-outs; I’ll take a quick moment to point out the work of sound-man Carl and the perfectly-conceived and pulled-off performance from Scott Allen Perry. Anyone who has worked on film sets/crews, will give a knowing nod to Perry’s performance. We’ve all met folks like Carl. If you’re not in the biz, you’ll still get a huge kick out of Carl’s inherent fear and paranoia about the things happening to the group. He has a speech early on in the film – long before they reach their shooting location – about how all of this ghost nonsense is scaring the young PA Lily – when of course, he’s talking about himself. It’s a great performance in a sea of other great performances. So really, it’s just more a matter of pointing out my favorite character/performance rather than the actual strongest acting work. Scott Allen Perry it is.
But even these great performances cannot top the delicious skewering of one of the most divisive and over-used horror ideas of the past 15 years. You’ll be laughing out loud as the characters talk about how stupid audiences are – who continue to throw money away on these tired found footage efforts. You’ll guffaw as they call out The Blair Witch Project several times (both by name and in some of the film’s actual moments) and you’ll nod with appreciation as the characters justify “in the movie” why any character would continue carrying a camera when the stakes are high and their lives are in real danger.
On the other side of the horror/comedy coin, the film itself has a nice build-up of suspense, as the footage the filmmakers are capturing for “Spectre” begins to reveal strange, unexplained images and violent outbursts from material items (that cupboard scene is fantastic!) in and around the cabin. And the camera capturing footage on a laptop, which is also capturing footage – well, it becomes slightly confusing, but I think that’s the point. In a film which is so strikingly funny, it’s nice to see the actual filmmakers proving themselves worthy in the horror aspect of their project. This camera within a camera within a camera device is frightening and the film as a whole is also full of great “boo” moments.
Other details you’ll hopefully enjoy as much as I did – some of the interview footage with the naïve PA Lily – talking about the script – is brilliant. And the early scene of the filmmakers getting two old local coots to “warn” them about the place they’ll be going is inspired. I just wanted to applaud when the moment was complete.
On the negative side, I thought the climax went on for a bit too long, to a point where I actually found myself thinking, “okay, let’s wrap things up”. In other words, the 100-minute running time could have used a trim.
Also of note, co-producer and screenwriter of the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – Kim Henkel – produces here.
Found Footage 3D is destined to become a franchise, and for once – I am rooting for such a thing. It’s clever, smoothly-produced with a constant wink to the audience (perhaps not the dumb ones – the film’s words, not mine!) and it contains an exceptional excuse – one to beat all others in the found footage world – as to why they continue to film… because they’re filming a movie. Duh!
Keep an eye out for a wider theatrical/DVD/VOD release – ‘cause this film is a definite “do not miss”!