Found Footage 3D follows a group of friends setting out to make the first found footage horror film in 3D. Naturally, the aspiring filmmakers throw caution to the wind and elect to shoot their flick in a haunted cabin. Of course, nothing goes according to plan, hilarity frequently ensues, and cast members succumb to an evil entity, one by one.
Found Footage 3D is extremely meta. It’s a total deconstruction of the found footage genre–It attempts to be something like what Scream was for the slasher genre and it succeeds in a lot of ways. Every trope and bad decision is called out and the cast members always make the audience feel as though they are in on the joke. The film is truly brimming with smart characters that say what the audience is thinking. The characters are good natured and not afraid to heckle their own decisions and those of their peers.
The cast is talented and everyone that is supposed to be likable is. Carter Roy’s Derek comes across as a prick. But he is supposed to. He’s the one pushing for tired tropes while nearly every other member of the cast and crew serves as the voice of reason–seeing things from the perspective of the audience. In one such instance, a character even suggests that a specter in a suit would look much less ridiculous than one rendered with bad CGI. In another exchange, a character remarks that there have only been two half-decent found footage films and one of them was released over fifteen years ago. It’s that kind of dialogue that really lets you know that the filmmakers understand viewer fatigue with found footage and were really attempting to make something different.
Found Footage 3D gets major points for not only being self referential but also funny as hell. Scott Allen Perry (Santa Jaws) steals nearly every scene he’s in. He’s the somehwat Nick Offerman-esque comic relief and he excels in that capacity. He hasn’t exactly broken out but he’s a rising talent to watch, for sure. Also worthy of mention is a brilliant cameo from noted film critic Scott Weinberg that fans of his writing are sure to eat up.
The reason for filming is well justified in this flick, as the characters are making a behind-the-scenes documentary about the film they are shooting. So, what we see either comes from the doc or footage intended for the film, itself. The picture only occasionally relies on the cliche-ridden, refusal to turn the camera off trope that has been overused so many times in the past. The decision to keep filming gets slightly harder to justify by the final thirty-minutes of the feature, but at that point, the audience is likely to be engrossed enough in the action to suspend any disbelief. Writer/Director Steven DeGennaro really took the thinking man’s approach to making a found footage film and, in large part, it paid off.
Since we know that the footage we are seeing is captured by professionals, that partially justifies the fact that the film is fairly well shot and it doesn’t feel like a total cheat. It’s a nice break from the typical shaky cam, headache-inducing antics we’ve become accustomed to by way of most entries in the found footage subgenre.
Also a smart move on the part of writer/director Steven DeGennaro is that a lot of expository dialogue is cleverly delivered through the behind-the-scenes doc footage. Its existence is more than justified and it doesn’t feel clunky or out of place.
Found Footage 3D is very slow burn for the first two acts, which might turn some viewers off. However, as I mentioned before, the characters are likable and enjoyable to spend time with. So, the lead up to the finale shouldn’t be particularly painful for those looking for a fast-paced thrill ride. I actually found the first hour to be a lot of fun. And those looking for something with a more intense pace will surely be pleased by the third act when it rolls around. In the denouement, all bets are off and things get really scary. The reliance on comedic elements is almost completely abandoned in favor of outright scares. And there are plenty of spooky sequences contained within the climax.
As for the 3D aspect, the film boasts great 3D effects. But as is nearly always the case with 3D, it’s a bit of a gimmick and after the first time, you’ll likely want to watch the flick in 2D. I do commend the filmmakers for doing something highly unorthodox and making a found footage flick in 3D. But I am also very appreciative that the Blu-ray release includes the option to watch the picture in 2D.
Found Footage 3D is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray, as well as via AMC’s horror streaming service, Shudder. The robust special features that accompany the home video release include outtakes, deleted scenes, two different commentary tracks, extended scenes, and more. If you missed this one during its festival run, make haste to check it out. You won’t be disappointed.
WICKED RATING: 7.5/10
Director(s): Steven DeGennaro
Writer(s): Steven DeGennaro
Stars: Carter Roy, Alena von Stroheim, Chris O’Brien, Tom Saporito, and Scott Allen Perry
Release Date: September 4, 2018 (Home Video)
Studio/ Production Co: Shudder, FF3D
Sub-Genre: Found Footage