F: Found Footage 3-D (2016)

Letterboxd ♠ Master List

Found Footage 3-D starts screwing with you right from the beginning, with a cliched opening graphic and Blair Witch sound effect:

I especially appreciate the typo.

Which is immediately followed by the director complaining about how cliched it is.

Here is your setup: Derek (Carter Roy) is producing and starring in a low-budget found footage horror movie. The aforementioned director is Andrew (Tom Saporito) and the cameraman shooting all the behind-the-scenes making-of footage we’re watching is Derek’s brother, Mark (Chris O’Brien). The Amy alluded to in the graphic is Derek’s now-ex but still co-star, Amy (Alena von Stroheim). While we’re meeting characters, let throw in the PA, Lily (Jessica Perrin) who seems to be Derek’s current squeeze (not that this will cause any drama or tension, nooooo) and the sound man, Carl (Scott Allen Perry).

As you can tell, the script for our movie-within-a-movie, as it stands, calls for Derek and Amy to go to a spooky remote cabin and have strange stuff happen to them. In a pre-production meeting with Andrew and Mark, Derek makes his pitch: since they have no real budget for hyping their production, their only hope at making a splash is to be the first at something. To which end, he reveals that this will be the first found footage movie to be shot completely in 3-D! Ta-daaaah! Skeptically, Andrew asks, “Whyyyyy are they shooting their vacation footage in 3-D?” After the briefest of pauses, Derek brightly replies, “Because he’s a 3-D enthusiast!”

This is typical of Found Footage 3-D‘s sense of humor. Not laugh-out-loud funny, but observational stuff that ultimately rings true, especially if you’ve ever been involved in shooting a low-budget movie. Then you get to say, “It’s funny because it’s true” multiple times. In fact, this is one of the best movies about shoestring film production I’ve seen an a long time.

There’s still quite a bit of friction between Derek and Amy, though the two obviously still have some feelings left for each other. Which is wearing on Mark, who has a not-so-secret thing for Amy. Andrew will be wondering increasingly why Derek even says he is the director as his producer/star overrides him more and more as the shoot progresses.

And, oh, yeah: that remote cabin with a spooky bad history? They’re shooting in an actual remote cabin with a spooky bad history. I was on Team Carl the Sound Man from the beginning, but I was willing to buy the T-shirt when he goes ballistic upon finding out that Derek has brought them all to an actual haunted house. This also leads to one of the most awesome scenes when, stopping for gas and supplies in Gonzales, they ask a couple of old coots sitting in front of the general store to be in their movie, saying old coot things. Quite funny, until the camera stops rolling and one asks where they’re headed. When they’re told which cabin they’re filming at, the two old guys get genuinely freaked out and warn them away from it. Doran Ingram and John Daws, you may have literally been two locals pressed into the job, but you did outstanding work.

Another thing I love about Found Footage 3-D is that it also serves as the Scream of found footage movies, codifying the rules of the genre – and then proceeding to use those rules for all they’re worth. For just one example, the big question of “why do they keep filming after everything goes to shit?” – there is actually a reason given that makes some sense.

Online critic Scott Weinberg is a producer, and actually shows up on set as a correspondent for the late, lamented website fear dot net (this was shot back when we could have nice things). I suspect Weinberg also served an on-set consultant – he’s about the only critic I trust on matters like contemporary horror movies. He’s there for the incredibly gruesome climax, and I don’t want to go into spoiler territory, but one of the rules is nobody gets out alive…

Which means that every time I listen to his podcast with Drew McWeeny, 80s All Over, I’m listening to a ghost. AAAAAAAAA!

Anyway. Highly recommended. I loved it.

 

2 Comments

  1. There is an otherwise fairly forgettable found footage movie from 2017, The Monster Project, that also addresses the question of why they would film everything, and how the footage would survive; whether its plausible is open to debate, but it certainly is amusing.

    Not having seen Found Footage 3D, I don’t know if its the same explanation or not.


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