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[BD Review] ‘Found’ Is An Uneven Coming-of-Age Horror Film

When a film begins with a 12-year-old casually explaining how his older brother keeps severed heads in a bowling ball bag in his closet, it’s best to expect the unexpected. Such begins Found, a sincere coming-of-age drama blended with the gore and depravity one would expect from a video nasty. Sounds like a tasty recipe, but unfortunately director Scott Schirmer isn’t able to balance these two motifs (particularly during the film’s climax). Found has enough going for it to make it worth checking out, especially for those who fondly remember trips to the video store for all-night horror movie sleepovers, but overall it’s a terribly rocky film.

The 12-year-old I mentioned is Marty, a horror film obsessed youngster trying to survive the gauntlet of adolescence. He’s bullied at school, even by peers he thought were his friends, and his parents are completely disinterested in his plight. Marty wishes he could console in his older brother, Steve, but recently he’s been cold and distant towards him. Sometimes there are gleams of the close relationship they used to have, like when Steve talks to him about horror movies that’ll knock his socks off. But overall Steve’s absent from Marty’s life, leaving the poor kid alone and confused (especially about those severed heads in the closet).

Schirmer (working off of the novel by Todd Rigney) explores Marty’s complex issues in a truly thoughtful manner. His character is treated like a real person, so there’s no simple solutions to his problems or hamfisted moralizing to insult the audience’s intelligence. This aspect of the film – the coming-of-age story – is handled really well. It’s when Found dips into full-blown horror where it all begins to stumble.

This mainly occurs during the last act, when Steve reveals himself to be the depraved, perverse serial killer Marty suspected him to be (this isn’t a spoiler, it’s in the film’s IMDB synopsis). Prior to this there’s a scene where Marty watches a film called “Headless,” in which he imagines his brother in the starring role – severing heads and screwing their bleeding stumps. Although this graphic bit of debauchery prepares us a bit for what’s to come, when the climax goes down, it feels completely over-the-top and ridiculous. The leaps the narrative makes here are abrupt and sort of disheartening since everything leading up to the final moments was done so well. While the closing shot is supposed to be disturbing, it’s just came off as silly to me.

As Marty, young actor Gavin Brown does a great job carrying the emotional weight on his shoulders. His performance is terrifically nuanced for such a young kid. The other actors, not so much. Marty’s parents deliver their lines in a consistently stinted, forced manner that deflates the intensity in the last act’s intense moments. And while there’s an intense menace in Steve’s eyes, he too gives a stunted performance.

Like the acting, Found is overall an uneven film. There are a lot of inspired moments and, on the flip side, a lot of times where it feels like it’s trying way too hard to be shocking. The trials of adolescence are shocking and disturbing enough, no need to go putting your dick in a bloody stump.

Quick note: I’m also not quite sure what the film is saying about the influence of horror movies. Steven is a horror junkie (with an impressive VHS collection and posters littering his walls) and became a serial killer. Marty is coming up a horror fan and already comes off as numb to things like severed heads. While I’m glad Schirmer didn’t preach to us about his personal stance regarding violent media, Found seems to be arguing that yes, horror movies lead people to become severed head collectors and neck-stump fetishists.



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COMMENTS

14 Comments
  • J Jett

    i’m going to watch this this week and i’m looking forward to it!

  • Lyle Chip Chipperson

    Does anyone know what the best way to see this film is? I don’t mean subjectively, like what offers the best viewing experience but what is the easiest way to view the film. I have netflix but I have never done any of that video on demand stuff.

    • Scott Schirmer

      “Found” is coming to VOD and iTunes (and limited theaters) on August 15th. The North American DVD release is September 23rd. I believe Netflix will happen a little later down the road. 🙂

      • Lyle Chip Chipperson

        Thanks mate. I have iTunes as well so I can get it that way in August.

  • J Jett

    i just watched this and it’s VERY GOOD! i really loved the complex, twisted sibling relationship between Marty and Scott. the movie little Marty watched called “HEADLESS” (which is where most of the gore comes from) has some twisted “High Tension” type gore (the blow job truck scene for example). the acting from all is pretty decent. the actor playing little Marty does a surprisingly good job overall (in fact he’s a better actor at 12(?) years old than so many popular adult actors are. lol.)

    very good, very heartbreaking movie! i give this 4 out of 5 stars.

    • Scott Schirmer

      Glad you enjoyed the movie!

      • J Jett

        Scott (sorry i had “Scott” instead of “Steven” in my mini-review. i fixed it.) yeah, very good film!

  • BloodyBirthday

    This is my favorite film I’ve seen this year. I can’t wait to see what the director does next.

  • Ress EZ

    From the trailer, it looked intense drama good but the review tells me otherwise. Now I want to see this bad enough!

  • Nick Morris

    “I’m also not quite sure what the film is saying about the influence of horror movies. Steven is a horror junkie (with an impressive VHS collection and posters littering his walls) and became a serial killer. Marty is coming up a horror fan and already comes off as numb to things like severed heads. While I’m glad Schirmer didn’t preach to us about his personal stance regarding violent media, Found seems to be arguing that yes, horror movies lead people to become severed head collectors and neck-stump fetishists.”

    Yes! That’s what really bugged me about FOUND. as well. I thought I was alone on this. Perhaps I’m dating myself here, but I can clearly recall a time not THAT long ago when our beloved genre faced constant attacks from critics, censorship advocates, the religious right, etc. about the harmful effect horror movies (particularly slashers) were having on our children.

    For example, I’m sure we’ve all seen stuff like this:

    To me, FOUND. seemed to reinforce the archaic notion that horror movies have an unhealthy influence on impressionable viewers. As a society, I thought we had gotten past all that nonsense.

    Or am I missing something here? Care to comment, Mr. Schirmer?

  • Ty

    SPOILERS!!!

    I respectfully disagree with some points of this review. The relationship between the brothers was truly emotional, because it presents the viewer with a scenario in which a completely insane, paranoid, hateful person, is only ever good when they are around that one person… which in Steve’s case, was his brother. Marty knew his brother was crazy, but the thing was that Steve was good to him. Marty’s adolescent mind didn’t know how to process those thoughts, until the end when he saw what his brother was about to do to his mother.

    Now with the movie Headless, it’s the scenario itself that was horrifying, and the execution matched that, I think. When Marty visits the video store, he specifically wants to rent “Headless” but leaves slightly disappointed, only to find it in his brothers room, later on. You have to keep in mind that he’s already seen the heads of his brothers victims, in the flesh, at this point. I thought it was brilliant to have this “film” inside the film shock him even more than real life violence, because of the mental vision behind it. His brother was already killing people, and it was also displayed multiple times throughout the movie that he despised his parents, so I don’t see the ending as being abrupt or out of place, at all.

    Regarding the quick note: I don’t think the directors intention was to send that message at all. I think the intention was to actually challenge that notion. Through even Marty’s dialogue, he reflects on both himself, and his brother about the influences they grow up with. To me, if anything, it looks like a balanced view, in which he places equal blame on their lethargic mother, and bigot father, bullying, as well as other subtle influences. I mean, Steve even comes out and confirms that he has the same feelings towards black people, as his father, whom he absolutely hates.

    The very last shot actually seemed to say “If I didn’t all those horror movies, I’d prob be flipping the fuck out right now, but I know I need to keep calm in this situation, or I’ll lose myself forever.” Which also matched right up with the Headless segment mentioned earlier, in which he becomes even more disturbed by the film, than he was by actually seeing heads in a bowling bag.

    Found is one of the very best modern horror films, I’d put it right up there with Kill List, The Descent, Lovely Molly and House of the Devil.

  • Chamber

    Great movie marred by truly piss-poor acting. The only talented member of the cast being the killer brother, this movie would have been amazing had it contained a talented group of people and a better emphasis on the quality of the gore (it looked very fake throughout). The story, however? Top notch film making. I look forward to seeing what the writer/director does with people who can actually act.

  • Full Frontal Squashing

    Eh……it was ok. Don’t understand all the fuss. Oh well…

  • Melissa Carlill

    BD has two reviews of this on the site. One is four skulls and this one is 2.5 skulls. Should I just average it?

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