The biggest surprise out of Wizard World’s Bruce Campbell Horror Film Festival was Steven DeGennaro’s Found Footage 3D, which held its World Premiere this past Friday night.
DeGennaro, a longtime sound expert, makes his feature film debut with this horror comedy that’s been in the making for a whopping four years. Whatever the delay, it was worth the wait and ends up delivering one of the most entertaining horror films this year.
Found Footage 3D, about a group of filmmakers who set out to make the first ever 3D found-footage horror movie, is a super-meta comedy that turns into a straight-up horror film; if there were a comparison, it would probably be in the vein of Wes Craven’s Scream. The comedy is a bit inside baseball, but the execution makes the overall experience fun enough to reach outside of just genre fans.
DeGennaro pens the script out of obvious frustration of the filmmaking community that delivers cash-grab knockoffs in hope of capitalizing on the popularity of the subgenre. Found Footage 3D literally opens with a card declaring it based on a true story, only to pull back and introduce the director (Tom Saporito) and writer/producer/star (Carter Roy) arguing the merits of the subgenre. Derek (Roy) is DeGennaro’s cathartic take on the overzealous and greedy filmmakers who don’t give a shit about anything but the profitability of their project. Derek hilariously walks his crew through his plans where he unveils his greatest triumph – he’s going to be responsible for making the first ever 3D found-footage horror movie. There’s a ton of verbal sparring between Derek and his crew, which is brilliantly self-referential to both the genre and the film itself. It’s clear that DeGennaro has a firm grasp on the genre as a whole, using his experience and knowledge to craft the near-perfect horror experience.
The screenplay is surely the glue that holds everything together, but I’d be remiss to not gush over Scott Allen Perry’s performance. Perry may look like a tough guy, but he’s actually a wuss who is easily scared and frightened of pretty much everything. His comedic timing and delivery are on another level and is one of the biggest reasons that Found Footage 3D succeeds from start to finish. This isn’t to take anything away from the rest of the cast – Alena von Stroheim, Chris O’Brien, Jessica Perrin and even horror writer Scott Weinberg, who is part of one of the film’s highlights – who are all wonderful in their own right.
What’s probably most surprising about this little indie, though, is that the 3D is exceptional. (It’s so good that it confuses and angers me at the amount of trash the big studios put out.) In fact, outside of Avatar and Final Destination 5, I think you’ll find it hard to show me a more impressive use of 3D in a live-action feature film as of late. Even the CGI, in 3D at least (I have yet to see the 2D version), is outstanding.
Found Footage 3D is an absolute riot that’s also quite scary, setting up a multitude of payoffs that deliver a flurry of satisfying punches. It truly is a modern indie gem that really, really deserves a place among the greats. Horror fans are going to fall in love with DeGennaro’s film that’s pure heart but also expresses similar frustrations we all have as genre fans. Seek this one out, especially in 3D, for one of the most satisfying horror experiences you’re going to have in a long while.