Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Found. (2012) : An Unsettling Indie Must-See

In some ways, director Scott Schirmer's FOUND feels like a love letter to horror fans, in particular fans that enjoyed the days of perusing the video stores looking for the nastiest VHS cover and judging the movie by that instead of actually reading the synopsis on the back.  I remember those days very well, the short jaunt to the video store, heading straight to the horror section (back when they didn't ask for IDs so anyone could get an R-rated flick) and pulling titles like ZOMBIE and DEEP RED off the shelves. 

But we're not talking simple horror-fan homages here, though there are those within this disturbingly thought-provoking film.  Marty (Gavin Brown) is a horror-obsessed fifth-grader who spends his free time creating graphic novels and watching (crappy) horror films.

He seems like your typical pre-teen, but he's got problems with bullying at school, which leeches into every aspect of his life, causing him to find solace only in the latest B-movie crap-fest.  He does have one friend, David, who is also interested in horror and comics, but who doesn't defend Marty very well when the kids at school pick on him (so in my book is a pretty shitty friend). Lest you think this is a simple tale of grade-school bullying, I'm here to tell you it's so much more than that.

When the film opens, we immediately find that there's more to this film than meets the eye.  Narrated by Marty, he starts by explaining that he recently went into his older brother Steve's (Ethan Philbeck) closet to borrow his bowling ball and much to his surprise, he found a severed human head inside the bowling bag instead of a ball.

Steve is a serial killer.

I'm not giving too much away with this revelation, as like I said we're told straight off that Steve is a bad guy. Marty, after discovering Steve's secret, struggles with keeping it to himself while harboring feelings of confusion and fear. Marty's parents are not fans of his horror-centric obsession, and in particular his mom tries to steer him away from his passion.  But when Marty has a particularly bad day at school, she allows him to stay home the next day and watch movies, and she willingly permits him to choose horror films to watch.  When selecting videos at the store, Marty sees a particularly gruesome cover for a film entitled "Headless".  Dismayed to learn that someone has stolen the video and it is unavailable, he settles on a couple other films.

At home the next day he finds himself sneaking around in Steve's room, searching for more horror films (because Steve has a vast selection of his own, go figure).  Imagine Marty's surprise when he finds a case with a handmade label that reads "Headless".

Later when pal David comes over, the two watch the film, which dare I say is pretty fucked-up (for lack of a better term).  Featuring copious amounts of the red stuff, a depraved plot, and a completely wacko killer, Marty is utterly repulsed by the movie, even having to turn away on several occasions as the killer has a field day removing victims heads and performing perverted antics with them. But even more frightening are the visions of his brother as the killer in the gory film. It's obvious Marty is having more than a little trouble dealing with (and hiding) the fact that his brother is a deranged murderer.

When Steve finds out Marty is being bullied, he demands to know who is responsible, and with much hesitation Marty divulges the delinquent classmate's name.

It's not hard to figure out what happens next, but things take an even darker turn when Steve instructs Marty to fight back when the bully throws his punches and Marty begins to believe he can stand up to those who mercilessly torment him.  Is he starting to look up to his brother as someone who can use violence to gain what he wants? Is that something he could do?

I really don't want to say much more about the plot, I'd prefer it be experienced without any more information. Suffice it to say I enjoyed this movie so much more than the countless other remakes and lifeless films I've seen in the past several years.  It brings something new to the table, all the while slamming you with a stark dose of reality and a macabre vision.
Just knowing there are probably scores of 'Steves' out there somewhere, just waiting for a reason to remove someone's noggin and hide it in a bowling bag is enough to shatter anyone's pleasant view of the real world.

While the first part of the film feels a little like a coming-of-age tale, there's no doubt by about a third of the way through that you are slam-dunk in the middle of a very disturbing horror film.  A downward slide just keeps on getting worse and worse, and any chance Marty had at keeping a normal modicum of decency and an unaffected thought process are long gone. 

This terrific yet unsettling independent film written by Schirmer and Todd Rigney (author of the novel the film was adapted from) was recently picked up by The October People (The Invoking) for distribution, so thankfully everyone should be able to check this one out before too long.  It made the rounds at festivals, racking up honors and earning praise at every turn, so I can't wait for it to be available to the masses.  Believe me when I say you need to check FOUND out, because chances are you may not see a more intriguing film all year. 


Heather Santrous said...

Glad you liked this one Christine. I was at the very first screening at a convention in Indianapolis. I gave it some high praise as well. Good to see others are catching on to it as well!

Anonymous said...

Found was my favorite film of last year and probably in the last 10. It left me disturbed hours after I watched it. I am also proud to say I am now the owner of the bowling bag used in the film and it's still got bloody goo inside.

Christine Hadden said...

Heather: It would have been great to see this on the big screen. It's really starting to get good press!

Anon: Yeah, this was a really disturbing film on many levels. And congrats on the bowling bag, that's pretty cool!