These days, it’s almost expected that a best-selling book gets turned into a film/TV series. Sometimes (not to slight the author’s efforts), it doesn’t even have to be a best-selling book, as in the case of Todd Rigney’s “Found”. Granted, I’d previously never heard of Todd Rigney or read any of his previous independently-published work (go figure), but I figured that there must be something in this book that caught director Scott Schirmer’s attention. Why else would he make a film based on this book? Suppress your cynicism, folks. Found is a disturbing little gem that is definitely a surprise.
Marty is your exceptional fifth grade student. He gets good grades, keeps quiet, and on the side, has a love for horror movies. Unfortunately for Marty, he’s bullied relentlessly at school, and his parents aren’t exactly the most supportive. Even Marty’s only friend, David, has started to become embarrassed being around Marty because of bullying by association. Marty also has an older brother named Steve, who shares the same fascination and love of horror as he does, even showing Marty his first horror movie. However, Marty soon discovers that Steve carries a dark secret with him, starting with the ever-changing severed head in Steve’s bowling ball bag.
In spite of being shot on a shoestring budget, Schirmer manages to bring out some good performances, particularly from Gavin Brown, who plays our protagonist. Brown is able to accurately portray a boy who is juggling a myriad of emotions and feelings, and do it in a realistic way. Often, I hate it when films (horror and otherwise) cast young actors who are in over their heads, and are nothing more than vehicles for plot advancement and almost devoid of acting chops or character. Thankfully, that’s not the case in this film. Complementing Brown’s performance is Ethan Philbeck as Steve, who delivers some truly creepy moments while also throwing in a few humourous ones to broaden the character. While he does feel a bit forced in parts, Philbeck still delivers an admirable performance.
Speaking of the two brothers, the chemistry between Steve and Marty really feels genuine. Well, as genuine as a younger brother and his serial killer brother can get. Brown and Philbeck really do come across as siblings, displaying emotion and attachment to one another that really does remind me of my relationship with my younger brother. I’m not a serial killer, mind you, but you get what I’m saying in regards to the seemingly authentic bond between two brothers who show concern for one another.
On the downside of things, the film does show it’s low-budget roots in a few ways. While the gore is delightful and at times very realistic, the initial shot of Marty with the severed head kind of took me out of things as it didn’t look all that convincing. Shooting close-up shots didn’t help things, either. In spite of Philbeck and Brown’s performances, their parents (Louie Lawless and Phyllis Munro) tended to be on the stiff side, and delivered dialogue that really sounded more rehearsed than natural. Lastly, the final act of the film does threaten to take you out of things thanks to the over-the-top violence, since it really comes out of nowhere. It’s definitely a squeamish part that makes my inner gorehound happy, but at the same time, it feels a little out of place with what’s happened so far.
Nonetheless, a few missteps doesn’t hinder this indie gem in the slightest. The narrative is excellent, with some serious commentary on family dysfunction and bullying, with showcasing some excellent acting by a couple of promising young actors. Kudos to Scott Schirmer for taking the leap and putting the right people in place to create a creepy and striking film. If you’re in the mood for an intelligent horror film that impresses on a variety of levels, Found is definitely that film, and deserves to be seen at least once.