I actually posted my Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival report in a timely fashion (and that will be followed by an audio recap on Monday’s episode of the Dread Media podcast). The weekend before that, I fought off vicious tumbleweeds at the Asylum Tampa convention, and the weekend before that, I went to Spooky Empire in Orlando, where as usual I spent most of my time in the Freak Show Film Festival. So I’m late posting about that. I’ll cover the rest of the fest in a later blog, but for now I’m going to focus on the highlight: a movie called Found.
I don’t get to go to many film festivals, but I love ’em. I love seeing movies before they reach a wide audience (if they ever do). I still have fond memories of seeing The Robert Cake (an almost literally no-budget shot-on-camcorder dark comedy) over a decade ago. I went to see May at the Florida Film Festival with absolutely no expectations beyond the fact that it sounded kind of cool from the program book, and it remains one of my all-time favorite moviegoing experiences. The Dead Inside, a horror/musical, is an absolute gem, with a soundtrack in constant rotation on my iPod.
I can’t say that I went into Found (directed by Scott Schirmer) with no expectations–the promotional postcard had rave reviews from trusted sources like Rue Morgue magazine and it’s been an audience favorite at numerous other film festivals–but I wasn’t expecting to be blown away by one of the best horror films I’ve seen in years.
It’s about a fifth grade boy who thinks that his older brother is a serial killer. That’s not a spoiler. At the very beginning of the movie, we’re told his brother keeps a severed head in a bowling ball bag in his closet. And that the severed head is replaced by a different one on a regular basis. So, maybe ten seconds into the movie I was thinking “Okay, I’m hooked.” After the fantastic animated opening credits sequence I knew this one was going to be a winner.
I don’t want to talk much about the plot beyond that, but I will say that the movie goes to much darker places than I would have ever expected, which is not an easy trick for a movie that starts with a fifth grader holding a severed head. Found is more of a coming-of-age film than a horror film, but holy crap does it deliver on the horror portion. One particularly brilliant scene involves the boy watching a movie called Headless. The film within the film is unbelievably gory, depraved, and pointless, but its inclusion illuminates character and moves the story forward. Awesome.
The final shot of the movie freaked me out. Loyal readers of this blog may have noticed a dearth of posts where I say that any shot in a movie freaked me out, because it almost never happens, but the final shot of Found did it.
I’m far from a jaded horror fan and I think a lot of great stuff is coming out these days, but it’s very rare that I see something where I’m driven with an intense desire to learn everything I can about the movie. With this one, that night in the hotel I was clicking links like a maniac on the official website, and when I got back home I watched all of the Q&A videos. And I immediately ordered the novella upon which it was based.
I read Found by Todd Rigney the day it arrived, wondering how closely the movie had stuck to the source material. It turns out: very close. The filmmakers made the occasional change for the better, while obviously the book gets more inside of the mind of its main character, but scene-by-scene I’m not sure I’ve ever encountered a more loyal book-to-film adaptation.
So both Found: The Movie and Found: The Book get my highest recommendation. Ten severed heads out of ten.