Found Footage 3D, 2016
Written and directed by Steven DeGennaro
Starring Carter Roy, Alena von Stroheim, Chris O’Brien, Tom Saporito, Scott Allen Perry, Jessica Perrin, Scott Weinberg
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.
The guide for FrightFest says that Found Footage 3D hopes to do for the genre what Scream did for slashers. It’s the first post-modern found footage movie that isn’t afraid to play within the genre conventions while also poking fun at them, and for the most part it works. But not everything does.
Part of the issue with Found Footage 3D is that it’s not as clever as it thinks it is, nor does it fully take advantage of its post-modern setting. It talks about the tropes of found footage movies in several scenes, but it doesn’t push the satire. Worse still, as the film comes to its conclusion, it becomes everything the characters hate about the genre. Steven DeGenerro writes throughout the entire script that found footage has become predictable and every movie is the same, but Found Footage 3D ends up being ‘just another found footage movie’. “What can we do to separate ourselves from every other shitty found footage movie” asks one of the characters. The answer appears to be ‘very little’.
And here’s where the comparison to Scream is so unfair. The charm of Scream is that it’s not just a parody of the genre, but also a love letter. The character don’t sit around and bemoan slasher films, so when the film becomes one it works tonally. Craven balances the humour and horror perfectly so it hits all the beats, but Found Footage 3D is more like the imitators that came out after Scream’s success. Furthermore, the characters constantly talk about how found footage movies are made by lazy filmmakers using lazy techniques like jump scares and rubbish CGI, and yet DeGenarro does the same thing. Perhaps that’s the point, but it comes across unknowing. Just saying you’re being rubbish doesn’t make it knowingly good, it just makes it preposterous.
There is a lot to like about Found Footage 3D however. Unlike a lot of films in the genre, the movie features a cast of very likeable characters from the struggling director Andrew and the loveable sound guy Carl (played brilliantly and hilariously by Scott Allen Perry). Production assistant Lily adds a real sweet quality to the cast, and this is countered perfectly by writer and all-round asshole Derek (perfectly portrayed by Carter Roy) and flip-flopping Amy. In a really smart move, the plot of Found Footage 3D mirrors the film they’re making, titled Spectre of Death. The film within the film surrounds a couple escaping to a cabin in the woods to help their marriage, which reflects Derek and his co-star Amy’s failed marriage. It’s all surface level stuff, but it adds a lot to Found Footage 3D.
Also working for the movie are its horror moments as there are some sequences in Found Footage 3D that are genuinely terrifying, and DeGennaro directs with a brilliant flow. With such a glut of found footage films released each and every year, it’s impressive to see one that’s directed this well. It may not get its tone or satire right, but it’s mostly effective in its execution of being a found footage movie. There’s a line where Andrew says there’s only ever been two and a half good found footage movies and one of those came out fifteen years ago. Well, Found Footage 3D isn’t bringing that number up by much, but it’s better than most.
Sadly it feels as though Found Footage 3D is a missed opportunity. Everyone has gone into this with the best of intentions and it mostly works, but it’s sadly rather forgettable. It doesn’t quite know who its pitching too (those who hate found footage or those who love it) and so it ends up a bit bland. A very nice cameo from Scott Weinberg (who also produces) is a funny addition and Allen Perry has some real laugh out loud moments, but Found Footage 3D just feels like every movie you’ve ever seen from the genre. A shame.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Luke Owen is the Deputy Editor of Flickering Myth and the co-host of The Flickering Myth Podcast and Scooperhero News. You can follow him on Twitter @ThisisLukeOwen and read his weekly feature The Week in Star Wars.