By: Heather Seebach
These days, every new indie horror that pops up is touted as the Second Coming of the genre. Cheap torture porn is considered "edgy" and people stitched ass-to-mouth is hailed as "disturbing." Frankly, I grow weary of the hyperbole. So what a refreshing surprise it was when I saw Scott Schirmer's Found. and realized it was every bit as soul-shattering as I had heard - and then some. More than that, though, it is a powerful coming-of-age drama that provokes relevant discussion on bullying and the role of horror movies in real-life violence.
12-year-old Marty (Gavin Brown) is a good kid but his childhood is rough. The other boys at school pick on him, his parents do not understand him, and oh yeah, he suspects his older brother is a serial killer. His first clue was the severed head in a bowling bag in his brother's closet. He is forced to grapple with this terrible secret while facing all the other complications of adolescence that haunt many children such as prejudice, domestic violence, and bullying.
This American independent film was brought to life for an outstandingly meager $8,000 which was raised by Schirmer himself. The low budget shows but is never a distraction. It is bolstered by an impressive cast of newcomers, not the least of which being Brown whose impressive handling of the intense lead role belies his young age. So too is Ethan Philbeck shockingly scary as Marty's older brother, Steve. For this film, he was asked to participate in scenes from which many young actors would run away screaming. The pair's dynamic carries the film, which is largely about family and growing-up, despite the blood-drenched promotional stills usually attached to Found. (see below).
The grue first comes into it when we meet Headless, the skull-masked killer from the horror-film-within-a-horror-film. He has fittingly become the face of this movie as he is fantastic horror imagery in his own right. His scenes are outrageously soaked in gore but they serve a point - to address the accusation that hyper-violent horror films can affect the psyche of children. I won't elaborate on where the film stands but I have no doubt that anyone who grew up on a steady diet of VHS horror can relate to Marty and to this film.
The nastiness does not stop with Headless, however, as violence bleeds into Marty's life. Found. turns down dark roads I never expected, and by the time the end credits rolled, my heart felt a little more hollow. Remember what I said about hyperbole? I hate it - truly. Still, I will say this film earns its keep as one of the most fucked up movies I have seen. It crushed me to my very core and left me feeling thankful for that. My only complaint is that it runs a bit long in the third act but you will hardly notice once the film drops its gigantic, proverbial balls and claims a bit of your soul.
Found. is now available on DVD from Amazon or http://foundmovie.net/found. The release includes the full, uncut version of the movies-within-a-movie "Headless", and "Deep Dwellers", as well as commentary from director Scott Schirmer and author of the original novel, Todd Rigney.