Tuesday, 29 October 2013

FOUND - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2013- A boy should LOVE his brother.

Marty (Gavin Brown) is 10-years-old and like most exceptional little boys, he has no real friends and gets mercilessly teased and picked on (even by the pudgy geek who deigns to spend time with him). Naturally, Marty seeks solace in horror movies, drawing comics and looking up to his big brother Steve (Ethan Philbeck). Lately his older sibling has been cold, distant and given to hiding things in a bowling ball bag that are anything but bowling balls. The lad hopes against hope that Steve isn't doing something he shouldn't. He wishes, ever-so desperately, that maybe, just maybe, life will get back to normal instead of starting to resemble all those VHS horror films he rents for movie marathons. Such is life, in the quiet, leafy suburbs of Bloomington, Indiana and it's about to get a whole lot stranger than it already is.

BLOOD is thicker than water!
Found (2012) ***
Dir. Scott Schirmer
Starring: Gavin Brown, Ethan Philbeck, Phyllis Munro
Review By Greg Klymkiw

Sometimes you see a movie, and no matter how much you enjoy it, no matter how good it is, no matter how much promise the filmmaker displays, you feel an overwhelming urge to draw a scalding hot bath and scrub yourself raw. Found is just such a film. By the end of it, I felt sullied. However, this was no garden variety horror experience, because for its first half, it felt like we were going to be in the somewhat surprising territory of - I don't know, say Rushmore, but with a serial killer instead of Bill Murray and thankfully no dweeb loser wearing a red beret.

Or maybe, for instance, it was going to have dapples of Stand By Me, but without Ben E. King crooning over picture postcard shots of those oh-so-sensitive lads of yore or, for that matter, To Kill a Mockingbird, sans, of course, Gregory Peck and a literary source as beloved as Harper Lee's great book. However, this film was shaping up to be a coming of age tale - albeit with a somewhat darker edge than the first two aforementioned titles and without the pedigree of the last title.

No matter where it was going to go, I never expected it would veer into territory that reminded me of the first time I ever saw the likes of Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or John McNaughton's Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer or, for that matter, Alan Ormsby's scum-bucket-o-rama Deranged: Confessions of a Necrophile.

This is not to say Found is even as good as those seminal works of horror either, but GODDAMN! there is a point in this movie where you're looking for a scrub brush in a way those same titles also inspired. This is no mean feat. Screenwriter-Director Scott Schirmer's film adaptation of Todd Rigney's novel, dives into a septic tank of a truly rank odour and retching-inspired viscous fluid that is as evocative of societal blight as it is stomach-churningly grotesque.

Found is a good movie and its total price tag was the princely sum of $8000. The almost non-existent budget is, however, (more often than not) betrayed by clearly unavoidable exigencies of production. Miraculously, this does not at all detract from its power.

Much of the acting is, save for Gavin Brown and Ethan Philbeck, strictly amateur hour. Some of the blocking is painfully sloppy. Occasional attempts to buttress the movie with elements that try, but miserably fail to feel like a bigger picture, all point - quite obviously - to a meagre production kitty. In spite of this, you can't take your eyes off the proceedings - Schirmer manages to pull off a picture that's genuinely compelling. He also accomplishes what ALL no-budget filmmakers need to do in order to stand out from the crowd of morons who think that, they too, have an inalienable right to make movies. He takes us to places that nobody in their right mind would want to ever visit.

Where the movie takes a turn for the truly demented is when our hero watches a horror movie on VHS that his older brother has stolen from the local video store. It is, appropriately, entitled Headless. Schirmer recreates some of the more sickening scenes from this video nasty and we're treated (so to speak) with a film within the film that gives us a pretty good idea of what Marty's older brother is up to.

And then, just transplant Mt. Vesuvius to Bloomington, Indiana and watch the fucker erupt. The last third of Schirmer's picture is jaw-droppingly relentless in its utter horror. Surprisingly, much of the really disgusting violence - some of it sexual - occurs offscreen and because of this, it's even more horrendous. The movie swirls like some mad twister, careening malevolently towards one of the most shocking, mind-searing shots I could never have imagined. Again - WOW! If you're going to make a movie for no money, you deliver something we are never, ever going to forget. To coin the title of Guy Maddin's shockingly insane and funny masterpiece, you give your audience a Brand Upon The Brain.

Schirmer clearly has a voice and his film suggests the potential he's yet to tap to its fullest power.

When he does, I can assure you, it's going to be a gusher.

"Found" was an official selection at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2013.