The Final Project
Six eager students strike out to explore and record live footage of supernatural activity at an abandoned plantation, but one unsettled spirit gives them more than they asked for.
March 4, 2016
Taylor Ri'chard, Zachary Davis
Amber Erwin as Misty Gilroy
Arin Jones as Genevieve Richard
Charles Orr as Charles
Leonardo Santaiti as Jonah Girard
The Final Project is one of the more challenging found footage features to review. I’ve covered countless subgenre installments. Countless. And the vast majority of these films all suffer from the same bear traps that filmmakers never see but often step directly in. And to a certain extend The Final Project plants its foot directly in that bear trap. But there are a lot of atypical decisions made throughout the picture that act as salvaging points. The Final Project isn’t perfect, but it isn’t a complete waste of time, either.
The story itself doesn’t break any new ground. Six college students decide to make a documentary about an abandoned plantation that’s long been rumored to be haunted. Upon arrival things don’t seem too atypical. It’s a rundown joint in the deeper stages of dilapidation, but there aren’t all too many indicators that the place is truly inhabited by any spirits, let alone spirits of the malicious nature. But things soon take a turn for the worse, and the rumors of something evil dwelling in the building begin to take on some merit. As is expected from most found footage films, our protagonists begin disappearing and or being tormented and slaughtered.
It’s your run-of-the-mill stuff, no two ways about it.
But what makes this one a bit different is the organic feel of the footage. The image is grainy, the performers are so natural it seems as though they’re not strictly abiding by a script, but applying improvisational dialogue at every turn. That’s an endearing quality. The fact that no one single character is tabbed as the “lead” is also appreciated, as it not only leaves us wondering whether or not someone will survive, but it also feels reminiscent of an actual school project. The characters frequently bicker and talk over one another. It’s something of a chaotic scene and that’s to be expected by a handful of amateur filmmakers. In that sense – the sense of realism – The Final Project really works to suck the viewer in.
Where the film fails is in the actual scare department. There aren’t many shocking moments at all. Characters go missing, never to be seen again and that’s also a little strange. While we do see a few players meet their demise in front of the camera, those death scenes feel a bit rushed, and underdeveloped, rarely offering us any truly eye-popping visuals, or chilling buildups. It’s a weakness that hurts the film, which often feels as though the story drags for extended periods of time.
The Final Project has as many strengths going for it as it does weaknesses. Dedicated found footage fanatics will likely appreciate the grimy realism and disorganization of the picture. Those who enjoy found footage films, but may not necessarily consider them must-see films could write this one off as an uninspired piece of work with some required tune-ups. I fall somewhere in the middle of those packs, appreciating some of the creativity of the film, but ultimately feeling a bit deprived of the big scares. All in all, this one is worth a watch, even if you don’t feel compelled to add it to your personal collection.