“Do you want to be the kid that gets picked on
or the kid that gets in trouble?”
I've been curmudgeonly about new films for about a decade now for the same reason that I was driven back in time by music. The stuff that gets promoted is crap, it's that simple. But three years ago I stumbled into a tomb of wonders called bandcamp. It's a place for new independant bands to share and sell their music. It's a place where artists are free to exploit their own creative vision free from corporate restraints. Recently, I've challenged myself to tap a similar vein for underground filmmakers. I have this crazy notion that there's a world of worthwhile auteurs out there that you won't find in theaters. In my imagination, these freewheeling visionaries do what they want, take no prisoners and do it on a shoestring budget. The problem is, there's no bandcamp for filmmakers, not one that I know of anyway. Youtube could have been it, Vimeo tries to be it, but as of this writing I've yet to find the "filmcamp" website. Not too big a problem though, you've just got to dig. Finding great bands on bandcamp is a gold rush, finding great underground horror films is a scavenger hunt.
Probably the biggest prized piece of that hunt has been the movie Found (stylized as found.). Based on the novel by Todd Rigney, Found is the coming of age story about an adolescent boy whose older brother is a serial killer. Marty (played by Gavin Brown) suffers constant abuse from everyone around him. His only solace is making comic books and watching horror movies (as if that doesn’t sound familiar!). He goes into his brother Steve (Ethan Philbeck)’s room when he’s not around and goes through his stuff. He already knows about the severed heads in bowling bags in the closet and likes to pull those out to have a look at, but the real hidden treasure is in Steve’s VHS collection. Replace “severed heads” with “skin rags” and “VHS” with “comic books” and Rigney and director Scott Schirmer (co-screenwriters) have just basically described my childhood.
In one cool scene Marty plays his brother’s tape deck and a scorching rendition of Eyehategod’s “Sister Fucker” blasts out courtesy of a band called Racebannon. You can find the complete soundtrack, including Racebannon’s contributions at this location.
But thee forbidden prize of them all comes in the form of the ‘Headless’ VHS tape. It shows a depraved film with no story, told from a maniacal, costumed killer’s point of view. The Headless movie ends up being the only thing that truly motivates each brother to take charge of their own lives and put their respective feet down to end the abuse, even if it means getting into trouble in the process. For Marty it’s a mostly negative process, for Steve, it’s an entirely negative one.
There’s really no avoiding it, if you want to live your own life on your own terms, you WILL get in trouble. In some ways there’s just no winning in life and this film doesn’t flinch from that reality. In some ways it can be seen as having a nihilistic or pessimistic point of view. Well, it IS a horror picture. But I don’t see it that way. It’s a sophisticated look at a brutal, capital T Truth.
The end of the film is as brutal and uncompromising as it gets. There’s no going back, there’s no classic happy ending and yet there is survival. Is that not a happy ending? One supposes it would have to be in a movie this stark. Found isn’t a nihilistic movie, it’s an existential one. It’s a cost / benefit analysis for sticking up for yourself, and the response is equivalent to the depth of one’s suffering.
More importantly, it’s a good movie. The violence and gore is mostly off-screen, though you’d never know it thinking back because of the unflinching use of sound. Most, if not all of the bloody violence takes place in the film-within-a-film, Headless. Director Scott Schirmer set up an ultimately successful crowd-funding campaign to bring Headless to life in its own right. Headless is already being called “a feature length gore fest” and if the scenes in Found are any indication, that ain’t just hype. There’s a teaser trailer up for it and it looks like pure sleaze. It should be good. You can watch the teaser at this location.
Found is available on DVD, iTunes, Xbox, Google Play and Amazon instant video.
Rating: ««««½ / 5
Reminds me of: Childhood
Found on IMDb
Found on Rotten Tomatoes