Gavin Brown, Ethan Philbeck, Phyllis Munro
Scott Schirmer (Co-Screenwriter), Todd Rigney (Novel)
Found is disturbing.
No, I mean really disturbing.
There are films that are content to throw gore at the screen and call themselves a horror film, then there are films that drill themselves into your very psyche' by taking real life and twisting the knife in ever so slowly.
Found takes a familiar cinematic scenario - the "loner" youth, and gives us a glimpse inside the kind of horror that horrifies because it feels like it could be happening at this very second.
Maybe next door.
Marty (Gavin Brown) is a 12-year-old kid with a family who loves him, or at least they serve up some semblance of loving him when they're around. He's a horror film-obsessed youth whose home life isn't the greatest, but his school life is practically the breeding ground for future Dylan Klebolds and Eric Harrises. The weird thing is that Marty's not even the problem. The real problem is Steve (Ethan Philbeck), or at least that's what Marty discovers one day while going where he really shouldn't go - through Steve's stuff.
Even if Found hadn't been a success, I'd have had no problem calling it one of the year's boldest and gutsiest independent horror films, a disturbing proposition that haunts your mind long after the closing credits have rolled by. The film is based upon a novel by Todd Rigney, and rather surprisingly co-writer and director Scott Schirmer avoids any sign of exploitation and instead trusts the material by creating a film that weaves together a coming-of-age story with equal doses of true horror.
When a film starts out with the line "My brother keeps a human head in the closet," you know you're in for a very unique cinematic experience.
If you thought Kick-Ass was disturbing for having a violence proven and foul-mouthed young superhero, then Found is most certainly a film that will drive you completely insane. Yet, for those who have a deep appreciation for a more thought-provoking and challenging type of horror, Found may very well be the film you've been waiting for all year.
The story goes realistically, as Steve eventually discovers that Marty knows the truth and Marty himself has to find ways to deal with a life that is continuously taunting him and this incredibly remarkable truth that would have to do a serious mindf*** to a 12-year-old. Yet, Found stays constantly emotionally intriguing because the relationship between Marty and Steve is believable and the environment in which they live isn't played for dramatic effect.
Gavin Brown gives a remarkable performance as Marty, infusing him with all the innocence and ignorance of a 12-year-old while not holding back on the disturbing nature of his life. Brown is an amazing young actor and it would be a shame if this performance doesn't lead to additional work.
While he's generally less the focus here, Ethan Philbeck is no less remarkable as Steve. Philbeck's Steve manages to be believably connected to his little brother while showing increasing glimpses of the dark side that allows him to do horrific things. Rather than overplay the drama, Philbeck's Steve disturbs because he truly feels like that nice, lonely guy next door who just doesn't seem like the type who would keep heads in a bowling bag.
It's extremely rare in indie horror, but even the supporting cast in Found shines, a clear indicator that Schirmer was able to communicate his vision for the film and fill his cast with actors and actresses who got it. As the absent but generally well meaning mother and father, Phyllis Munro and Louie Lawless also really shine.
Said to be filmed on a modest $8,000 production budget, Found has already picked up multiple awards on the horror fest circuit including Best Feature, Best Director and Best Actor (for Philbeck) at Elvira's Horror Hunt along with Best Director and Best Special Effects at Madison Horror Film Festival. With word-of-mouth getting around about the film, Found should have no problem staying busy on the horror fest circuit throughout 2013.
D.P. Leya Taylor's camera work is nothing short of brilliant, with the camera refusing to settle for gratuitous gore and instead finding the horror in the quieter moments. Watch the way Taylor's camera lingers on the faces throughout the film, lingering in a way that captures the inner workings of fractured minds. The camera work here is creative yet brilliant and disciplined. The special effects, especially when one considers the remarkably modest budget, are also magnificently realized.
Found is the kind of film that stays with you long after you've watched. It's the kind of film that leaves you wanting to revisit its characters and to weave your way back through the story. It's the kind of film that does what a really good film should do - it stays with you and haunts you and taunts you with its words and images and unspoken truths.
Found is directed by Indiana native Steve Schirmer and was filmed in several locations throughout Southern Indiana. Indeed, it feels like it could have been filmed right next door.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic