XLrator Media – 2014
Directed by Scott Schirmer
Screenplay by Todd Rigney and Scott Schirmer
Novel by Todd Rigney
I know DVD distributors have to hype their movies; it’s what gets people interested in renting or buying their products. But after reading all the blurbs on the DVD cover of this movie, I was expecting a masterpiece. Unfortunately it’s not but it does have some things about it that were positive. There are other aspects not so good.
A young boy named Marty (Gavin Brown) is doing well in school and is overall a decent kid. Some classmates at school start teasing & bullying him and at home his parents don’t seem to have a clue on what he really needs from them. Worse Marty is aware of a dark, horrible secret that threatens to overtake his life as he knows it. His brother (Ethan Philbeck) is a serial killer.
Found. (period is meant to be there as it is in the title) has a strange feel to it as it plays like a straight family movie, maybe even an after school special. But then it gets gory and perversely sexual, which makes it somewhat shocking and controversial.
There’s no question that novelist/co-screenwriter Todd Rigney and director/co-screenwriter Scott Schirmer have guts, because they aren’t’ afraid of letting things hang out that would normally be taboo. This will get this movie some attention and probably satisfy the thrill-seekers who are looking for forbidden material not usually seen in movies (the movie company is even called Forbidden Films). But I think it will turn off just as many other folks who will find what’s shown appalling and maybe even distasteful.
The thing I liked most about Found was the storyline of a kid obsessed with horror movies and drawing comic books. This is something I know all too well and can relate to. These moments are so personal that I have to believe that they are coming from either the writer or director’s own lives.
I also love the small town setting. As I was watching the movie, I said to my friend that it looked like the film was shot in the mid-west, because it featured flashback VHS video store (I miss those), historic movie theater (they don’t make them like it anymore) and general onscreen backdrop. This proved accurate as the end credits listed that it was shot in multiple places within the State of Indiana, including French Lick (famous for NBA Legend Larry Bird).
Another quality was how the writer/director weren’t afraid of quickly showing Marty’s awareness of his brother’s grisly serial killer work. Also by revealing Marty’s knowledge of his family’s little dirty secrets, it opened doors to all sorts of storyline possibilities.
What hurts the movie the most was the acting. I’d say that besides the young actors Gavin Brown and Ethan Philbeck, who both were questionable at times, the rest of the cast was disappointing. The adults were uniformly awful. Overacting and forced physical moments sabotaged much of the film and some of this has to fall on the director.
Common sense says the director is young and inexperienced. This is not only reflected in the performances but visually the movie looks like it was made from someone ho just came out of film school. I didn’t like the shots, which were not only flat and uninspired, but almost every one of them looked too close or too far away, which hurts the movie as well. The director of photography has to be cited for this as well.
I have to talk about the carnage. Gore was fascinating when I was a teenager (another clue to the filmmaker’s age) but filmmakers should never mistake that bloodshed equals terror. Gore is not scary. Suspense is. The combination of this movie spilling lots of red stuff and no attempt at constructing suspense also takes it down a couple notches. The only thing gore does for me now is create a sense of revulsion and sometimes laughter when it looks too fake. By lingering on gore, you risk making the audience turn away from the film or laughing at it. Is that smart to do for long periods of time?
The other problem is that besides the boy, there weren’t any likable characters. So when people start to get knocked off, you might actually be glad they’re removed from the film so you don’t have to endure their bad acting anymore. Plus since you didn’t like them anyway, you could care less what happened to them and that’s not what a good storyteller wants the audience to feel.
There’s no doubt that director Scott Schirmer has promise. Not only did he make a full length feature film that got released (which is a monumental accomplishment), but it’s obvious he is passionate about filmmaking. He would probably vehemently disagree with me about what I’ll say next, especially after receiving so much praise. But what’s important now is for him to look at his film from a distance, seeing where he can improve. I think it will be important to figure out how to work with better people in front and behind the camera. No self respecting filmmaker will want to admit to needing to do this, but in this case it could be his revelation.
I’m curious to see what he does next.