'Found.': Film Review

Found Poster Art - P 2014

Found Poster Art - P 2014

A genuinely disturbing serial killer thriller

A shy fifth-grader discovers his teen brother's a serial killer in this grisly cult film fest favorite

Nondescript title aside, any film boasting the opening line, “My brother keeps a human head in his closet,” can never be accused of mincing words.

A grisly coming-of-age piece with a matter-of-fact tone suggesting River’s Edge meets Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, the disturbing Found., adapted by first-time feature director Scott Schirmer from the novel by Todd Rigney, feels like it could have emerged from that same mid-'80s setting. Opening in theaters and on VOD after haunting the cult festival circuit, the unrated film could find a faithful genre following, especially after word of its being banned in Australia for “prolonged and detailed depictions of sexualized violence.”

Protagonist Marty (Gavin Brown) is a bullied, horror movie-obsessed fifth-grader who one day makes a fateful discovery while snooping around big brother Steve’s (Ethan Philbeck) bedroom and notices an unpleasant odor coming from his bowling bag. Turns out it wasn’t an isolated incident, but Steve’s serial-killing spree (most of his victims are African-American women) proceeds to bring the two brothers closer together, especially when forming a united front against their cold, clueless parents (Phyllis Munro and Louie Lawless).

Although some of the supporting performances can be a bit choppy, director Schirmer sets an effectively unsettling naturalistic visual tone, bathing all those dark impulses in sunny Indiana daylight. 

It’s fairly easy to see where the mounting family dysfunction is, uh, headed, but the denouement is still pretty shocking even though Schirmer teasingly plays the bulk of the depravity offscreen.

The same can’t be said for Headless, the gleefully gory retro slasher film-within-the-film with nasty, '70s-era effects created by the Clockwerk Creature Company. While it remains to be seen if the main attraction spawns a sequel, Headless is headed for microbudgeted full-length treatment, with Kickstarter funding easily surpassing the $15,000 goal.

Production company: Forbidden Films
Cast: Gavin Brown, Ethan Philbeck
Director: Scott Schirmer
Screenwriters: Todd Rigney and Scott Schirmer

Producers: Leya Taylor, Damien Wesner
Director of photography: Leya Taylor
Editor: Scott Schirmer
Composers: Magician Johnson, Greg Wright, Lito Velasco

No rating, 103 minutes