'The Gracefield Incident': Film Review
A group of friends vacationing in a remote cabin encounter more than they bargained for in Mathieu Ratthe's found-footage horror film.
The first line of Mathieu Ratthe’s horror film The Gracefield Incident is uttered by a character who exasperatedly asks, “Do you have to film everything?” and it’s a question with which audiences can only agree. Yes, we’re back in the realm of found-footage, a genre that the director/screenwriter tries to freshen up with a novel concept that proves far sillier than imaginative.
The film begins with a car accident suffered by video game editor — surely the nation’s biggest growing profession — Matthew (Ratthe) and his pregnant wife Jessica (Kimberly Laferriere) which results in her losing the baby and him losing an eye. Cut to months later, when the enterprising Matthew designs an artificial eye for himself that secretly contains a video camera so he can record everything he sees. Because really, who wouldn’t?
Not long after, the couple, joined by four others, heads to a luxurious cabin in the Quebec woods because, well, remote cabins are where so many horror films take place. And just in case the audience should become worried that Matthew’s eyeball camera won’t be able to show everything to their satisfaction, be assured that the guests are also toting video and cell phone cameras in abundance.
During their stay a fiery meteorite drops out of the sky, with one of the men promptly putting his bare hands into a hole created by the shooting star. Because, really, who wouldn’t? Miraculously, the space rock isn’t burning hot, as the laws of physics would demand, but instead is cool to the touch. But the meteorite turns out to be the least of the sextet’s worries, as they soon find themselves pursued through the forest in Blair Witch Project-fashion by an alien whose leaping abilities are of Olympic-level proportions.
Meanwhile, strange phenomena begin occurring in the house, captured on video in Paranormal Activity-style, and one member of the hapless group exhibits zombie-like behavior. We also learn that the house’s owner turns out to be obsessed with Bigfoot. Because really, who wouldn’t? So that’s something else for the guests to worry about. And, most horrific of all, there’s no cell phone signal.
So formulaic and unoriginal that its poster should accompany the dictionary definition of derivative, The Gracefield Incident degenerates into endless scenes of people running around in the woods breathlessly shouting horror film cliches while being photographed in shaky-cam fashion. That the film works to any extent at all is due to special effects that are undeniably impressive for such a low-budget effort and effective editing that maximizes the gotcha scares. But they’re scant compensation for a film that answers the question posed at its beginning — no, you really don’t have to film everything. Because really, who would?
Production: Filmmode Entertainment, Matt Ratt Productions, Emba
Distributor: Momentum Pictures
Cast: Mathieu Ratthe, Kimberly Laferriere, Victor Andres, Laurence Dauphinais, Juliette Gosselin, Lori Graham, Alex C. Nachi, Victor Andres Turgeon-Trelles
Director/screenwriter/editor/producer: Mathieu Ratthe
Executive producers: Pat Brisson, Sergei Fedorov, Bryan Turner
Director of photography: Yan Savard
Production designer: Elise de Blois
Costume designer: Valerie Gagnon-Hamel
Composer: Noah Sorota
Casting: Lucie Robitaille
Rated PG-13, 89 minutes