Posts Tagged ‘Found Footage’

Damn, but it’s been awhile since we did one of these “International Weirdness” columns looking at strange cinema from other parts of the globe around these parts — and that’s no one’s fault but my own, for which I duly apologize. And I further apologize for the fact that it’s returning under less than auspicious circumstances, but what can I do? Last night, you see, I made the mistake of watching a 2011 Australian “found footage” horror flick on Amazon Prime (it’s probably also available on DVD, maybe even Blu-ray, not that you should care) titled — wait for it — Found Footage, and I’d literally be remiss in my civic duty not to warn you off from it in the strongest possible terms.

So — what’s it about? Well, it’s about a killer named Darius McKenzie (played by Matt Doran, who I understand is something of a “known quantity” on Australian television, and who also co-directed this steaming pile of kangaroo shit along with its screenwriter, Samuel Bartlett), who — kills people. Particularly women (bet you didn’t see that coming). And “films” it on his digital camcorder. And — that’s it.

No, seriously, that’s it. He’s busted by the end and this “footage” was purportedly “found” by the Australian Federal Police, so they’ve pretty much got him dead to rights. We know exactly how this flick wraps up, then — but we also know exactly what’s going to happen in it from the word “go.” And that’s its greatest sin apart from its blatant misogyny, atrocious acting, and cheesy-even-by-the-standards-of-this-sort-of-thing production values.

Honestly, I’m not at all sure why POV Horror — who have actually put out some films that I quite enjoy (although I fully admit to not being nearly as “down” on this whole subgenre as, apparently, most sensible folks are) — picked this thing up for international distribution. It literally has nothing going for it apart from some fairly realistic practical effects work and a short (64 minutes, if I’m not mistaken) run time. And when all you can say about a movie is “hey, at least it wasn’t longer,” well — that really isn’t saying much, is it?

I dearly hope that some of the actresses involved in this way-beyond-dubious project were fairly paid for their work, but somehow I doubt that. All the likes of Catherine Jeramus, Lisa Fineberg, and Alison Gallagher had to do, on a purely technical level, was show up, scream a lot, and pretend to be violently murdered, but seriously : there’s an indelible stain on one’s career that comes part and parcel with attachment to anything this undoubtedly sorry and they deserve appropriate compensation for that. Although, in fairness, perhaps the most appropriate compensation they could have asked for is simply having their names removed from it.

So, yeah, there’s just no sugar-coating it, under-selling it, or over-stating it : Found Footage really is just that bad. It’s one of those flicks where you honestly wonder why the hell anyone even bothered to make it, and none of the answers you can come up with are particularly pleasant. It won’t scare you, surprise you, or in any way even interest you. I’d call it worthless, but in truth it probably has negative value — I’ll certainly never get back the hour(-ish) of my life that I sunk into watching it, and for that I’m not so much disappointed as I am actively pissed off. I was robbed of time that would have been better spent watching my fingernails grow or the flagpole rust.

 

At this point, you have to wonder where and when this whole “ghost hunting” thing will end.

“Reality” TV is full of this kind of crap, of course, as is the “micro-budget” horror scene, and on a purely practical level it certainly makes sense : you don’t need much money, after all, to make a film where amateur acting, equally amateur cinematography (usually of the “shaky-cam” variety), and “hinted at but not really seen” effects work are built right into the story itself. In short, where unprofessionalism is not only countenanced, but expected. With all that in mind, then, it would probably be terribly naive to expect this burgeoning sub-genre of “found footage” horror (a sub-genre in and of itself) to go away anytime soon — but goddamn, sometimes I wish it would.

Case in point : 2015’s Ghostfinders, a zero-budget effort that comes our way courtesy of writer/director/producer/nominal “star” Luke Hill (and his one-off — and one-man — production outfit, Amalgam Movieworks), who, along two paranormal-hunter cohorts (played by name omitted by request and Quincy Kuykendall), decides to check out a house so fucking haunted that its most recent owners split after just one night in the place — not that it being a potential deathrap has prevented them from trying to rent it out to unsuspecting suckers ever since, mind you. But none of the tenants have hung around for very long, either.

The litany of complaints about the house amounts to “we’ve heard this all before” stuff — strange noises, apparitions appearing and disappearing, that sort of thing. In other words, there’s no attempt at anything resembling originality here — which is hardly an unforgivable sin in my book provided all the bog-standard shit on offer is well-executed or presented in a fashion that at least threatens to be somewhat interesting. Care to place a wager on whether or not Hill and Co. manage to pull that off?

The acting in this flick is lousy, the dialogue is dull, the hand-held camerawork is sloppy and unimaginative, the story is rote and predictable, the “scares” are non-existent, the effects are lifeless — there isn’t anything here you haven’t seen before, haven’t seen done better, and haven’t fallen asleep watching. And good effing luck staying awake here, too. I did — just barely, but I honestly wish I hadn’t. Sleep, after all, is a precious commodity in this life, while “found footage” ghost-hunter movies are anything but.

I could strain my brain for fucking days trying to dream up even one reason for you to spend your valuable time on Ghostfinders, and I’d still come up empty. There’s just nothing here — or, more specifically, there’s nothing worth seeing. Or at least nothing worth seeing again. Luke Hill clearly knew all the boxes he had to check off the list that people who make films of this sort apparently keep handy and, having placed a big red “X” in all of them, he figured that his job was done. And having warned you off this one in the strongest possible terms, guess what? So is mine.