Found is an ambitious movie. With a micro budget of around $8,000, writer and director Scott Schirmer has attempted to tell a story that blends multiple genres and touches upon many different emotions. Found is a coming-of-age tale that deals with the struggles of growing up and the changing dynamics of family life, but it’s also a horror movie that doles out scares and copious amounts of gore in limited bursts. It has elements of a thriller but it’s also a character study. All of these disparate elements work together to propel Found above the run-of-the-mill low budget indie flick and make it worthy of notice, but these same elements contribute to a lack of focus that causes the lofty narrative goals of Found to feel underdeveloped.
Found is about a reserved fifth-grade boy named Marty. Marty doesn’t have many friends and is picked on by bullies and most of the other kids in his class. His parents are kind of clueless but they are nice enough to him; Marty’s the good son. Marty has an older brother named Steve who is solidly into his teenage rebellion stage. Steve sneaks out of the house, mouths off at his parents, and gets in fights with his dad. Marty and Steve used to be close, but lately Steve has grown more distant and secretive. Marty stumbles upon one of Steve’s secrets while attempting to borrow some of Steve’s things without permission: Steve hides severed heads in his closet.
Marty has a hard time understanding exactly what his discovery means for him, Steve, and their family. His young mind has a hard time reconciling the brother that he has loved and the killer that he is. As he does with most of his problems, Marty keeps his feelings bottled up inside. As the audience, we experience Marty’s internal struggle firsthand as his thoughts provide narration for the events that unfold.
As a character study, Found works reasonably well, though a lot of the subjects it brings up are only given cursory glances. For example, the influence of media on the development of a young mind is clearly a topic that could have been explored. Marty loves horror movies. It’s a passion that he and his brother share. As Marty wrestles with the reality of what his brother is, he wonders if the movies they’ve both grown up watching are responsible. He wonders if he will become a killer too, but that thought is quickly dismissed by Marty’s narration and is never brought up again. You can still see the theme of the influence of movies throughout the film, but it starts to feel more like an after-thought as the movie progresses.
The same thing happens with other topics such as bullies, peer pressure, and inattentive parents; they are either never really explored as pieces of Marty’s character or they are used as a setup for some of the movie’s scares. Perhaps it was a stylistic choice by Schirmer to make the tone of the film rather simplistic to mimic the thought processes of a fifth-grader, but it makes the film as a whole seem rather shallow. This seems like a bit of a missed opportunity since part of the reason that the movie stands out is because of the focus on character rather than straight horror.
As a horror movie, Found also works reasonably well. There are a few different types of horror in Found. A lot of the scares in the first three-quarters of the movie are based on the tension of Marty wondering what his brother will do if he finds out Marty knows about the severed heads. There are some effective scenes where Marty, being a young boy who doesn’t think things through, gets himself into some compromising situations. These scenes are more of the thriller/horror variety and are nicely done.
Then there’s the gore. Being a super low-budget movie without the money to create spectacular effects, director Schirmer wisely limits the blood and guts to a few key scenes. One of these scenes is in the form of a low-budget movie within the movie that Marty watches titled Headless. Headless actually plays a key role in Marty’s character development, but the gore and violence in the fictional movie are so over-the-top it’s comical. Still, it’s not supposed to be real so the thick, bright blood and obvious props completely work in context. It’s not scary but it serves its purpose well.
The same can be said for Found as a whole: it serves its purpose well. The combination of a reasonably well done character-study and a reasonably well done horror movie combine to create a pretty fun movie to watch. The final act does devolve into more horror than anything else, and that does come at the expense of some of the character exploration, but overall Found is definitely worth watching for horror fans who don’t mind some quiet moments of thoughtful reflection.
6 – Pretty Good
Found isn’t without its issues. Occasionally it really looks and feels like it was made for around $8,000. At times the visual quality and editing make it feel like a home movie or student project and many of the supporting characters are flat and not very well acted. Even so, the moments that make Found special far outweigh the negatives. The story is intriguing and told well enough to warrant a watch from fans of low-budget horror who like a good story.
Deadgirl can get pretty disturbing. It’s about two teenage boys who find a naked woman who cannot die strapped to a table in an abandoned mental asylum. The movie focuses on the differing reactions of the two boys as they explore what they are capable of doing to and with the dead girl. It’s definitely a horror movie, but it also focuses on morality and friendship and a myriad of other topics.
Watch the Deadgirl trailer
Review Format: DVD
Availability: Released on DVD on September 23, 2014
Director: Scott Schirmer
Writer: Scott Schirmer (screenplay), Todd Rigney (novel)
Featured Cast: Gavin Brown, Ethan Philbeck
Run Time: 103 minutes
Watch the trailer