“What is the point of making the first 3D found footage horror movie if it’s just gonna suck?”
Okay, I know I say this a lot. If I got famous it would probably be one of my catchphrases. You could buy t-shirts with my face on it (beautiful) with the slogan along the bottom in a nice font. The font would either have to be completely original or from dafont.com. None of that Microsoft Word fucking papyrus shit. And, in the amazing font, it would read ‘That was so meta.’
But, guys. Found Footage 3D (2016). That was so meta.
To be honest, I’m not sure it entirely counts because it self-referentially points that out itself and because it’s obviously meant to be a complete deconstruction of the horror film genre and of the 3D technique. Think The Cabin in the Woods (2012) but aiming for an even deeper deconstruction and with a significantly lower budget. Yet, I liked it more. Found Footage 3D has also been compared to Scream (1996), in that the characters are aware of the horror genre and attempt to use their knowledge of it to survive the bloodbath at hand.
The premise is simple, as any good found footage film should be. A group of ‘filmmakers’ (more their words than mine) set out to make a horror movie. But, the age-old question is, as eloquently put by one of our unlucky characters, “How are we gonna separate ourselves from every other shitty found footage movie that people make?” Well, don’t worry. They’ve got an idea. 3 fucking D, motherfuckers. They are going to make the first ever 3D found footage horror film. To recap: I am reviewing a horror film that is in the style of found footage and utilises the 3D technique, that is about a group of people making a horror film that is in the style of found footage and utilises the 3D technique. So. So. Meta.
It’s a cool idea for a film. I’m totally willing to buy into it. I’m buying into all the clichés they’re throwing about. The old white dudes warning them not to go where they’re obviously going to go. The dilapidated cabin in the middle of the fucking woods (!!!). Creepy midnight sounds. Ghostly shit going down. Broken torches. Mysterious black smoke. All of it. Write me a receipt, because I’m buying it.
There are two things that make found footage films engaging and, in some cases, bearable. The first and most important is the logic. There needs to be a reason that the characters are filming. There needs to be a reason they keep filming, despite the horror surrounding them. Found Footage 3D satisfies both these requirements in a way that feels natural.
Secondly, the characters need to be both realistic and likable. We need to like them because we need to truly care and feel something when they bite the dust. And as the film says, “We know that everyone is dying in found footage.” Found Footage gives us six leads. They are all white (fuck, how am I gonna know who dies first?) but they are the quintessential characters you’d expect in the genre, therefore in a film about the genre. They feel like old friends, you know? But the type that you wish would just pretend not to see you when you walk past each other in Rundle Mall. The one that inexplicably still likes all your Instagram posts. The ensemble is meant to be like that though, and with some witty and cutting one-liners thrown out every few minutes, it’s easy to be invested in them.
I should probably mention that Found Footage 3D won a shit-ton of awards on the horror film circuit and has received a lot of good reviews. It only barely passes on Rotten Tomatoes with a score of 52%. Another need-to-mention aspect is the use of the 3D. Here’s the thing. I didn’t watch it in 3D. That did absolutely nothing to detract from the entertainment value, however. A few reviews praise the technique; so I guess it’s good??????? I’ve never liked 3D much. Idk Y. Maybe I’m ~~old and traditional~~ or something.
The film is not that nerve-wracking. Neither was The Cabin in the Woods though. Like I said, it’s more a tribute to rather than an example of horror. It does build tension well and finds the right moves to alleviate it. Despite its flaws, which are really limited to pacing and some acting, it is still ridiculously engaging. The writer and director, long time sound engineer veteran, Steven DeGennaro, has shown a great deal of promise here. I’m genuinely hoping he isn’t a one trick pony and we get to see a whole lot more clever horror from him in the near future.
Found Footage 3D is somehow both a shining tribute to the horror genre and a huge smack to its face. It gives you the best of it all but leaves you feeling like it is nothing new. It is the kind of film that uses a jump scare a split second after delivering the line, “It’s called a jump scare and I think it’s probably one of the most overused clichés in horror movies.” It’s the kind of film that literally points out all the ways in which found footage often lacks quality, whilst simultaneously exists as a found footage film. It’s amazing and it totally works.
3.45 or maybe 4 (I can’t decide) JB Hi-Fi giftcards out of 5.