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Stars: Gavin Brown, Ethan Philbeck, Phyllis Munro, Louie Lawless, Alex Kogin, Andy Alphonse, Shane Beasley and Angela Denton.
Writer: Scott Schirmer; based on the novel by Todd Rigney.
Director: Scott Schirmer:

Rating: 4/5

A grisly but oddly affecting amalgam of JJ Abrams’ Super 8 by way of William Lustig’’s slasher classic Maniac, Scott Schirmer’s Found paints a realistic vision of internalised teen alienation as filtered through a horrific external existence.

Set in a strangely unidentifiable time and place not dissimilar to smalltown America but in which dads take their 12 year-old sons to midday showings of Zombi Massacre, Found is thematically invested most profoundly in a world of secrets and memories.

Our protagonist, the cherub-faced early-teen Marty (a superb Gavin Brown), finds solace and strength in the slyly procured knowledge he has of his family’s lives – his mum (Phyllis Munro) keeps love letters from an old flame; his dad (Louie Lawless) hides a stash of porn magazines; his older brother, Steve (Ethan Philbeck) keeps the severed heads of his serial-killing indulgences in a bowling-ball bag in his bedroom.

The tensions in Marty’s home are familiar, as his response will be to many who have sought out Schirmer’s film. He descends into a world of manufactured horror, embracing the world of B-slasher movies (in another nod to a fractured timeline, he hires VHS ‘video nasties’ from his local drive-up rental den). This backfires when he discovers a film called ‘Headless’, a grotesque work that chronicles the sick actions of a killer whom Marty fears has inspired Steve.

Already a social outcast having been bullied at school and soon on the outer with his tough-talking friend David (Alex Kogin), he turns to Steve for understanding. He begins to relate to the dissociative, sociopathic world of the mass-killer; it is not a great leap to imagine John McNaughton’s landmark 1986 film, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, as a sequel of sorts. The final image, a blackly brilliant piece of tension relieving humour accompanied by a perfect line-reading, suggests a long, horrible existence awaits Marty.

Feeling way more violent that it actually ever becomes (barring the graphically-staged ‘Headless’ footage), Todd Rigney’s adaptation of his own novel will nevertheless tax the fortitude of even the hardiest horror-philes. Whilst the majority of the narrative’s uglier moments take place off-screen, audio clarity and the gruesome by-products of a maniacal rampage are employed in detail (Australian audiences who recall the details of the 2001 Gonzales killings in Sydney’s North-west may be especially rattled).

Scenes away from the home (a schoolyard incident and its consequences; a violent encounter at a church meeting) feel somewhat over-staged and rudimentarily acted; no character development or narrative momentum would be lost if these passages were tightened up. At 103 minute, the running time feels a little strained.

But not a single frame is wasted whenever Gavin Brown or Ethan Philbeck are on-screen. Marty seems worryingly close to just about every single ‘average kid’, suggesting the motivation to indulge in the dark, confused musings of ones early youth is always a possibility; Brown, on-screen for almost the entire film, is a revelation. Philbeck, quite simply, is terrifying in his own ordinariness.

Scott Schirmer’s crafting of a young boy’s hellish suburban normality is as strong a coming-of-age tale as Abram’s drama. Whereas that film knelt at the altar of Spielberg, Found takes its film-buff inspiration from the likes of early De Palma,  Argento or Cronenberg. They are hard acts to follow, but Schirmer knows his stuff. Found is a singularly sick, sad story and announces the filmmaker as a notable talent.

Reader Comments (1)

All I read were the names of talented directors, put in the some context to the director of this high school amateur film, to realize this 'review' wasn't worth my time.Watched just enough of Found to realize it was really about Schirmer's
movie fetishes, and possibly those of the reviewer writing for this website. Strictly for The Faces of Death fans. No redeeming value behind half an intelligent thought.Keep it 'lost', please.

October 1, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPete B.

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