The Dispatches Review – Found Footage Series – Atrocious (2010) – Part 4 of 4

But let’s cut (back) to the chase–or, back to the cuts in the chase.  For, the running scenes are noticeably cut–and not just to speed up the pace, but to amp up the tension.  We simply don’t have to follow this scene for all of the several minutes it goes on, and, yet, we can see even now that it’s cut down from its full length.

Meanwhile, though, in my confusion, it is here, in the woods, that I have come to understand that not only do I not know who I am in respect to this story, but that I don’t even know what type of story it is.  Jose is dead.  July is tied up in the woods, needing desperately to be rescued.  But is she needing to be rescued from a what or a whom?  Later, at around an hour, Cristian has hidden himself away in the upstairs bedroom, a chair propped against the door.  We get more static, then a still image of the chair a few feet removed from the door, the door open perhaps half a foot: this might be the figurative center of the film’s ambiguity.  It is my first time viewing this film and now I’m asking these questions outright, talking at my television: What’s going on here?  What does this particular set of frozen frames mean?  Who or what has moved the chair away from the door?

If I’m about to get a call telling me I’m gonna die in seven days, I’m gonna be PISSED...

If I’m about to get a call telling me I’m gonna die in seven days, I’m gonna be PISSED…

At the climax, as Cristian enters the cellar for the last time, as he quite literally descends to his fate, a fuzz-laden television in the corner provides snippets of a videotaped medical record, information about an unnamed subject’s psychological problems; odd that it comes so soon after that mysterious bit with the chair and the door, though.  For, we’re not given enough to know who the antagonist is, but we can at least firmly guess now that they’re human.  And, if this is a physical, material antagonist, do they have any actual relationships with other physical, material identities in this world that would explain the form of the footage?  If so, are we meant to be playing that person, or anyone else who might have the chance to view this footage as we’re viewing it now?

But, rather than addressing such questions right off, this is where the stylization that had been mostly restricted to the intertitles is unleashed on the plot in a much more overt way.  Of course, Cristian is not alone in the basement (as no one in a horror movie is ever alone in a basement), but, just before the confrontation, the footage fast forwards; remember that, as the opening established, we’re not meant to believe we’re fully in control of our own viewing of the thing, so this is not in itself inconsistent with what has been presented so far.  We speed past the climax too quickly to know what happens and then land on a new intertitle: ‘PHOTO EVIDENCE EXHIBITS TAKEN BY POLICE IN SITGES’, the town in which the film is set. There are still about 8 minutes (including the credits) left in the film, though, and that’s a lot of time for matters to get even more complicated.

The slides provide dates and places that help fix our understanding of the flow of events, but which confuse more than they clarify, otherwise; they look as though they’re being fed through an old-school slide-projector despite the fact that the film was clearly shot in the past few years, long after we might reasonably expect such technology to have been abandoned by even the most rural of police forces.  In fact, the technology is anachronistic even with respect to itself, considering how seamlessly the slides are transposed into the film; it’s clearly not as though someone stood there with a camera as the slides were run through, so how does the appearance of such media indicate anything other than a violation of legitimacy?  Meanwhile, in the background, we’re hearing the call that Carlos, the family friend, makes to emergency services after finding the bodies.  This might be valuable information, which is exactly why its placement in the background of these slides seems counter to our own, realistic standards of investigation and report.  But, given all the other conceits necessary to good or even clear filmmaking, it’s important to repeat that this is not all to point up flaws in the logic of the narrative, but to identify how that narrative world itself is shaped to complicate the progress of the protagonists.

And that progress can be summed up as ‘well and truly fucked’.  No doubt about it.

And that progress can be summed up as ‘well and truly fucked’.  No doubt about it.

We make our way through the initial bulk of the found footage, then the police evidence, then a news story about the events, before returning to the found footage itself where we left off: at the climax in the basement.  But that weird disruption has still happened, and even the snapping-back, that narration-bending, is reminiscent of other novel forms, such as Michael Haneke’s Funny Games (1997, 2007); both in Haneke’s story and here, we are subject to the influence of a have a character who is somehow aware of the status of the film-as-film and is thus empowered to disrupt its progression, our viewing, from within.

Hanekebakes

Meanwhile, let’s not forget that thick layer of complicity-guilt.  Like Haneke says: If you don’t have anxiety and self-doubt, you don’t have dessert!

In Funny Games, though, such questions are raised at the specific, intentional expense of the realism and internal consistency of the narrative.  In Atrocious, perhaps because of the found footage form, that’s not so categorically the case; it might take some explaining to figure how this footage got shaped the way it did and then delivered to the narrative-level viewer, but we don’t have to necessarily change the laws of physics to accommodate the plot or chain of delivery.

I continually have the urge to define found footage horror by its literal label: something found.  But, popularly speaking, we tend to put things into the found footage category that don’t so cleanly fit even into the definitions we commonly agree upon.  Other’s opinions tend to be more liberal than my own, but this only indicates that filmmakers are now feeling freer to mess with expectations of the genre.  Which, you know, is cool.  Many take greater liberties with the form than, say, Blair Witch did when it presented just the footage–processed, for sure, but not added to.  Faux documentary and fake news broadcasts, meanwhile, show that the boundaries of the genre are expanding and intermixing with other means of delivering reality-transgressing narratives.  There are many, anymore, that seem like full-fledged found footage for much of their run–that are being labeled ‘found footage’ in our discourse and even in their categorization in sources we consider authoritative, like the IMDb and Netflix.  And each type moves in directions that contribute to their own unique, respective sets of problems as go the chain of delivery, the identity of the compiler, and any number of other conventions.

This all certainly goes for Atrocious.  Throughout the majority of the film–even given the complications of the stylized title cards, ambient music, and other artifacts of popular-vs-[legitimate? real? archival?] production–I am still choosing to call this a verifiable example of found footage in its form: no matter how any factors might pull me out of the fictional realm, how a particular detail might ring false as I try to maintain my suspension of disbelief, the thing still seems intended to be taken as an artifact of a shared world, delivered to a viewer through means that are somehow, explicably consistent with that realm’s possibilities.  The events of the narrative happened in the world I am currently inhabiting, or so I tell myself, and that is, among other things, the same thing that the film itself is meant to convince me of.  This is the logical implication of labeling a film ‘found footage’–the prospect one undertakes when one decides to make such a film, in fact–but it also raises the stakes: there are ways that a ‘found footage’ film can undo its status as ‘fully’ or ‘really’ found footage, even (read: especially) late in the game.

Not to give anything away, but it is sensible to assume that whoever is killing off the members of this family, besides being resolutely human, is unhinged, and the reveal bears this out.  But Atrocious provides us with something deeper than a plot twist: within this tangle of cameras and sources and potentialities there lies a structural complication that we’ve already started questioning but haven’t yet resolved.  The identity of the killer is made clear in the last few moments of found footage tacked on at the end, thereby obviating most of the questions still clearly at issue in the police evidence placed just a few minutes earlier.  But, if the footage itself makes the identity of the killer clear and, we can assume, the police found this same footage on the scene, isn’t the compilation–the found footage conspicuously placed along with the evidence and story–unnecessary to an investigation the footage wraps up all by itself?

But if, as in some other examples of found footage we’ll see, we’re meant to believe that the compiler is someone else–perhaps someone closer to the killer–we’re becoming only that much more compelled to wonder who.  Nor is this a question whose answer is made evident in the footage itself or via the chain of delivery; for, who in this instance, among those who are left standing after the massacre, would be moved to produce such a thing according to its particular, peculiar construction?  The initial suggestion that this is all police evidence is effectively blown apart, so who else would have the means and motive to develop the footage into what we see?  Even if we could come to some reasonable answer as to the compiler’s identity, doesn’t this footage, as it stands here, seem more like something to be found at the back of someone’s closet–evidence of a fetish, perhaps, that one wouldn’t be so eager to distribute to the public, rather than something openly passed around?  Intentionally or not, just by cutting back to the basement at the end with no evident, contextual reasoning, the film threatens to displace us as members of the narrative realm and re-establish us firmly back in our real-world place as viewers of a produced, fictional narrative.  It then takes it a step further by cutting, in a super-stylized way, from the camera’s view of the basement to the psychological assessment that, to that point, was showing on the television in the basement, thereby extending and cementing our remove and, perhaps, even compromising the movie’s narrative position as possibly being found footage ‘to begin with’.

Come back soon for our next entry in the Dispatches Review Found Footage Series!!!

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The Dispatches Review – Found Footage Series – Atrocious (2010) – Part 3 of 4

But, if the ubiquity of recording technology has made one piece of its developmental history novel, its also given rise to ethical questions and psychological ticks that are becoming hallmarks of found footage horror plots.  When Jose, the youngest child, goes missing, mother Debora dispatches the two remaining siblings, Cristian and July, to search the dark night grounds for him.  Cristian tells July to ‘get the cameras’ and she complies without question.  We could question the sensibility of such a priority at that moment, but even the question presumes that the narrative should be functioning more like our own sensibilities–so, of course, the one raising such a point is really protesting a problem with their own suspension of disbelief, their own desire to think of what they’re watching as real.  On the other hand, what if this behavior is actually acceptable to this narrative realm?  We might ask if standards of normalcy more broadly are actually substantially different in this realm than we might be used to in our own.  For a cross-genre example, see Kevin Willmott’s 2004 mockumentary, C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America, in which popular politics–and american culture altogether–have developed quite differently since a civil war outcome that favored the South.  Meanwhile, for a more visceral, horror-based example, we can look to ‘Parallel Monsters’, one of the stories included in V/H/S: Viral (2014).  There, the entire premise is that a scientist who has made his way into an alternate dimension is lulled into a sense of security by all the things that look familiar; meanwhile, the very nature of humanity in this new territory turns out to be quite unexpected and difficult to adapt to.  If we set this later situation as some extreme in opposition to, say, the various standards of our own reality, we might then think of films like Atrocious as falling somewhere in the middle: maintaining norms that we aren’t privy to but that don’t usually make the narrative run in any unfamiliar way, yet which could still affect the our reception in subtle ways that don’t so closely match our own experience.  The narrative world is generally built with the narrative action at its center, after all, so there’s no reason strategic fuzz should be considered inconsistent or unusual with the very physics of that world.

Jose’s disappearance also opens the opportunity for another trope to pop up: the running scene.  Next door to the family’s vacation home there lies an old maze–the aforementioned static occurred while the family dog stood at its gate.  It’s an actual, planned-out labyrinth, but it’s also old and overgrown, so that walking through it is a little like walking through a maze and a lot like walking through the woods.  Running scenes in the woods have become so ubiquitous to found footage that the view of the thick trees that greets the family as they roll up to their vacation spot at the beginning of the film should be a major clue that those very trees will eventually be run through.  Blair Witch, by some counts the first major found footage horror film, was set entirely in the Pennsylvania woods, after all, as was much of The Bucks County Massacre.

And I call it a running scene specifically, rather than a chase scene, because, so often, the protagonist is running toward something: toward a lost child, toward the mysterious antagonist, toward an endangered friend, back to the house, the van, or even just further into the woods.  In Atrocious, both Cristian and July are involved in running scenes at the same time, within the same set of woods.  The fact that we’re getting footage from both of their cameras, intercut, then begs the question, again, of how and when that footage got combined in its path to us.  That question of our own place nags at us even here.

So, perhaps to answer the question once and for all–or maybe just render it unanswerable on the same terms–let’s look back to the chain of delivery.  The establishment of the chain starts with a police warning card at the opening, but that’s not the very first thing we see; instead, the film proper opens with a stylized quote and the title, then we’re shown clips of various points in the narrative as someone seems to rewind the film; it’s thereby established already that, whoever we might be, the viewing itself is not entirely within our control.

I don't know about you, but that makes me nervous.

I don’t know about you, but that makes me nervous.

We soon land on a standard-looking police warning, almost like those you might have seen at the beginning of any videotape in the 80’s.  It’s fuzzy, though, and I don’t know what it says specifically–really, more because it’s in Spanish.  None of this prevents the card from serving to legitimize the, narrative seem in respect to its own world, though; how legit would a real-life classified document seem, after all, if someone just shoved it in your hands with no clear explanation?

But the look of legitimacy will, nevertheless, continue to be an issue for the rest of the run.  For instance, the action of the film takes place over a number of days, as is made conspicuously clear through the inclusion of stylized, soundtracked intertitles.  The problem in such presentation is that it then becomes too easy see the production of the entire film as something else: the point of the intertitles is not really to inform us of anything we need to know, but rather to appeal to us, to make us believe that what we’re seeing is entertaining, even cool.  But, to do so, we then need to recognize that thing as an entertainment product in the midst of our viewing of it, and that’s a tough proposition for any narrative.

Not to say such a maneuver can’t work in found footage and its related forms (especially faux documentary), but it would seem to rely on the antagonist (or someone sympathetic to the antagonist) having a direct hand after the fact of the narrative, in producing the piece for our viewing.  We see good examples of this in faux documentaries like S&Man (2006) and more ‘straight’ found footage horror, like The Last Horror Movie (2003), but these seem exceptions, and ones that rely specifically on a non-supernatural antagonist.  Meanwhile, other premises, such as Diary of the Dead (2007), The Conspiracy (2012), and The Sacrament (2014) play up the real-world ethical problematics of the documentation of trauma, but do so without so thoroughly problematizing the position of the viewer.

Woo!  This one’s really going, and there’s more yet!  Come back next Friday for part 4!

The Dispatches Review – Found Footage Series – Atrocious (2010) – Part 2 of 4

But the killer doesn’t really get a shot in the director’s chair in Atrocious, nor do we know for certain that antagonist’s very nature–human or not–for much of its run.  Indeed, if found footage is often criticized for being too flat and predictable, Atrocious’ blind paths, which can lead us to believe the film is of a type it isn’t, might be a great argument for the form’s originality and dynamism.   I kept running notes during my viewing and, in the last few scenes of the film, I was reminded of the Barthes quote I include in the opening of this article; a narrative might be said to be a machine that manufactures perception and expectation.  Maybe not completely, maybe not uniformally, but it’s an experience for the viewer nonetheless, and that viewer will walk away from the viewing with new thoughts in their head.  In any narrative we’re new to, we will have various questions as we begin–questions of genre, plot dynamics, character archetypes, etc..  We presume a sensibility in the arrangement of the narrative, but we’re not yet privy to how that sensibility is specifically shaped, what genre sensibilities it most conforms to.  Thus, there can come a point in the consumption of a narrative when the definition of the very experience we’re engaged in isn’t clear to us–much as in life–when the narrative is very much in motion, like the hidden workings at the center of that molding machine Barthes describes–when the shape of the final product, the completely-told story, with all its twists, with all its effects on the viewer and their attitudes and their perceptions and their sense of themselves and their place in relation to what their are seeing, their complicity, is still very deliberately unknowable.

My assumptions almost all prove incorrect, in fact, so that I eventually just decide I’d be wrong no matter what I guess and (try, at least, to) stop assuming altogether.  Meanwhile, about my own place as the viewer: I can say I am the observer, but not much more than that.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if that particular mystery of definition ends up being resolved neatly, in a way that might creep me out and play on that sense of complicity or otherwise make all the built-up tension explicitly pay off.  That would all be nice, but, whatever the outcome—slasher, ghost story, aliens, something else–what is being produced in the watching, according to Barthes, is those expectations and, by extension, our conditioned responses to such stimuli.  This is especially the hope if there’s an effecting clash in priorities tossed in there somewhere, such as twang on our sense of complicity, that produces anxiety.  Could that guilt carry at least a little of the realism with it that found footage is trying to help us experience in the first place?  And for more of a reason than we’re ever given in real life: defying the viewer’s expectations over and over again means those expectations cannot remain static.  What’ really being manufactured, then, is a dynamic set of responses to a dynamic set of narrative stimuli.  Take out the ‘narrative’ modifier and that sounds a lot like a description of a regular old human discussion.

I hurt because I care. It's just tough love...

I hurt you because I care. It’s just tough love, really…

So if, in viewing Atrocious, one is effectively in the midst of that productive space that is also a mysterious space–a discussion–the question of that viewer’s in-narrative role only becomes more relevant;  I’m me, the guy that cued up this movie on my Roku and who’s writing about it now as part of a review series.  But in the act of viewing, I’m also playing a role that others in the narrative may be aware of: I’m being positioned as ‘the viewer’, the receiver of a narrative written and delivered within its own realm.  But that means that the expected responses of the in-narrative personality need not replicate my own;  Ghostwatch (1992), for example, features a narratively-legitimate haunting, and the viewer, intended to be watching a live-televised pop-documentary/investigative-ratings-grab piece, could place himself as removed spatially from events that are, nevertheless, happening ‘now’, at the moment of viewing.  WNUF Halloween Special (2013) stars with a similar-seeming premise, but where it ends pretty well forecloses against the possibility that what we’re seeing is supposed to be entirely composed of live footage–or that we might ever see any such stuff televised.[1]

Seriously!? But, I'd JUST changed my pants after the Leatherface thing...

Seriously!? But, I’d JUST changed my pants after the Leatherface thing…

This seems a good time to mention a small thing, but one that’s seen often in found footage horror: the idea of a chain of delivery implies an effort at authentication, and so replicating that sort of sense of authenticity is one of the practices a lot of found footage fiction, horror or not, is built on.  In short, the chain of delivery is pointed into the real world[2]its job is to better make the footage feel like a ‘true’ product of our own reality.  But, in order to achieve that function, certain elements are often incorporated into its making like so many filters that render the final piece more obviously processed and, therefore, less-than-legitimate if legitimacy in the telling is what we’re looking for.  Found footage fiction is also, often, ostensibly amateur footage, so part of what makes it particularly convincing today is that fact that it’s largely set in today; the few period pieces, like  Frankenstein’s Army (2013) or Apollo 18 (2018), not withstanding, found footage films are acceptable within our media culture because consumer level video recording technology has become so sophisticated and pervasive that we can just film whatever on our phones.

I do it all the time. Don’t you?

The kids in Atrocious film everything because they can, but their tech, for all its ubiquity, doesn’t seem to match our own in its actual quality.  On night [_???___], as Cristian is filming the family dog as it stands spookily still by the gate to the neighboring topiary labyrinth, the scene is subtly cut by static. Were this film older–or at least set earlier–the growing ubiquity of video-recording technology, and the commensurate improvement in average quality, wouldn’t be so obvious of an issue.  But, like the dial tone that today’s youth only recognize from period films and tv, so digital static is more and more encountered anymore as a narrative strategy than a real phenomenon.[3]   This might seem pretty typical, a detail hardly worth noticing, but it’s really a tougher spot than that: static being used to simulate a sense of authenticity can, anymore, actually manage to become disruptive if your phone camera doesn’t actually look like that when it crashes.

KeatonCrash

Those screen freezes can still be super-frustrating, though.

Part 3 coming next Friday, so come on back!


[1] And doesn’t that sound fun!? Look out for reviews of Ghostwatch and WNUF Halloween Special, coming soon!

[2] Unless it’s not, as we might have with a film set entirely in the future, including references to the unfamiliar that would require a special kind of contortion of our suspension of disbelief.  The SciFi Channel’s (back when it was The SciFi Channel) short-form series, FTL Newsfeed, might come close, though it is quite firmly a fake news broadcast versus found footage.

[3] Examples like this and others, such as the bizarre timing of weapons breakdowns in sci-fi narratives, makes me wonder if, more generally, good genre narrative just tends to need the technology of our fictional universes to be more advanced but less reliable than the real-world equivalent.

The Dispatches Review – Found Footage Series – Atrocious (2010) – Part 1 of 4

Writer/Director: Fernando Barreda Luna

“[The] public waits… to witness the accomplishment of… the transmutation of matter.  An ideally-shaped machine, tabulated and oblong (a shape well suited to suggest the secret of an itinerary) effortlessly draws, out of a heap of greenish crystals, shiny and fluted dressing-room tidies.  At one end, raw, telluric matter, at the other, the finished, human object: and between these two extremes, nothing; nothing but a transit, hardly watched over….  [Plastic] is less a thing than the trace of a movement.”

-Roland Barthes, ‘Plastic’, in Mythologies

Atrocious will prove to be a particularly complicated film to discuss, if only for the ways that it subverts even the few expectations of found footage that we’ve looked at so far.  But this is not to say it is a bad film.  Such a judgement is irrelevant here, in fact–for, again, we’re not concerned with qualitative measures but, rather, how a particular film fits into the conventions of the found footage form and how the forms of found footage fit into a particular film.  And this only in order to better understand those conventions, those boundaries, and how they themselves might be changing even as found footage horror and science fiction continue to emerge as genres.  Films like Atrocious violate our expectations, sure, but that’s largely the point: those violations show us what’s actually being created versus all this theorizing.

And how.  In fact, some questions the film invites can be asked even before the actual viewing.  Most of the films we examine here are chosen based on their accessibility: currently, Atrocious is viewable online via Hulu (where I went to review it for this article, in fact), or it can be mail-ordered for rent on DVD from Netflix.  In fact, the Netflix page for the film includes its poster, and the image featured there (and above) makes quite the impression all by itself.  If we might use a poster to guess at the specific content of a film–the title, Atrocious, having already given us some pretty clear indicators–my own reading of the image led me to believe that it was not just a horror film, but a slasher specifically.

And for a very simple reason: to me, it looks as though the face framed in the poster has had its nose cut off.[1]

got your nose

W00t!!!

But a slasher film versus what?  One of the big divisions that becomes functionally important in discussing horror is that between slasher horror and supernatural horror.  Though there are plenty of films that transgress and even fall outside these two broad categories, we’re functioning from the presumption that the bulk of horror, in general–and the films we’ll deal with here, in particular–features an antagonist that is either corporeal or not.  Though we could certainly have a found footage film about a natural disaster–say, someone filming themselves as they’re trapped in an avalanche–we might also be tempted to categorize that film as a human drama rather than an overt horror story.  If there are a few survivors and one starts eating the rest in a particularly horrific way–say, while they’re still alive–we’re going to say that that becomes a slasher.

Meanwhile, the nature of the antagonist in those more overtly-horrific found footage films (and non-found footage, really) gives direction to just what it is that we’re supposed to fear for; though any given ghost story may well include an abundance of gore, the general expectation is that supernatural horror isn’t as viscerally intense as slashers.  In supernatural horror, we tend to focus on the horrific nature of the antagonist while, in slashers, we’re more concerned with the horror of what’s potentially going to be unleashed on the protagonist.  Leatherface, for example, is quite intimidating by himself, just as an image, but it’s about what he’ll do with that chainsaw that would have anyone running for the hills.

Say what you want about it just being a movie shoot or the tool not having a chain; that’s still a real person with a real chainsaw and I would really shit my pants if he were really running after me with it.  Really.

But, then, there’s Atrocious’ premise, as summarized on its IMDb page:

“Cristian and his sister, July, travel from Madrid… [to] their old vacation home. They learn the legend of Melinda, a girl… [who] got lost in the labyrinth near the house…. Carlos, a visiting family friend, tells the siblings… more sinister versions of the legend. July and Cristian use two hand-held cameras to explore the labyrinth and investigate the mystery of Melinda, until something horrible happens.”

This pretty clearly points to the horror of the plot being supernatural–or, at the least, there’s nothing so substantial that indicates it’s a slasher.  But why does it matter, then?  Because, especially here, in found footage, the nature of the antagonist contributes considerably to the possibilities of the narrative itself.  For instance: can a ghost hold a camera?  Even if it could, would it want to and why?  In examples such as the Paranormal Activity series, the supernatural antagonist sometimes takes a passing interest in the means of recording, but it rarely becomes an active wielder of the camera–probably because such a mechanical device is irrelevant to its agenda of reigning torment and destruction down on the skin bags currently serving as its playthings.  Outside of, say, Freddy Krueger, supernatural cinematic antagonists just don’t tend to think that creatively.

Doc, here, has managed to buck the trend, though.  During the week he does his full-time gig with the Cenobites, but, on the weekends, he does some camera work at Kink.com

Doc, here, has managed to buck the trend, though.  During the week he does his full-time gig with the Cenobites, sure, but, on the weekends, he does some camera work at Kink.com.

But the relationship of the slasher–the physical, human antagonist of his narrative–with the camera is pretty radically different. If the ghost has no use for the means of recording, the found footage slasher seems to get a hold of the camera so often–in films like Mockingbird (2014), Home Movie (2008), and The Last Horror Movie (2003)–that we can mark the phenomenon[2].

The nature of the antagonist can also prove central to the elements that the plot itself would need to contain in order to be made sensible.[3]  A ghost is a ghost and ghosts just want to kill you, or so movie logic often goes.  Yet, if the villain is physical, motivations begin to get questioned: without some establishment of context–why the killer is killing–the viewer can feel confused or cheated.  Unlike the supernatural nemesis, the bad guy needs to be explained somehow, at some point, and the current conventions of found footage as found footage mean that that often gets shaped in particular ways.  Single camera perspective, for instance, is getting to be less predominant in found footage–Atrocious includes material from a collection of sources ranging from professional-grade to cell phone cameras–thereby creating more options and opportunities for us to become familiar with all the characters.

Part 2 coming next week!  Same time, same channel!


[1] This is, itself, a fundamental misreading of the image; it’s actually a frame taken from early in the film, a manufactured ‘glitch’ in the recording that conveniently provides split-second scenes that foreshadow the horror to come.  In these brief clips, though, it’s made clear enough that there’s actually a hand covering this character’s nose and mouth.  So, it could still be a slasher, but the poster doesn’t prove to be such solid evidence either way.

[2] Which we will, in later entries; the ‘killer’s camera’ phenomenon serves as the antagonist taking ownership of the found footage film itself.

[3] ‘To be made sensible’ is deliberate wording: we could certainly create a found footage movie in which things like motivations and origins aren’t made clear, and doing so might actually make the it all the more authentic-seeming, but at the cost of accessibility and coherence.  And horror is largely reliant on a clear plot to even qualify as horror.