Director: Scott Schirmer
Screenplay: Todd Rigney (based on his novel)
A horror-obsessed boy discovers his older brother is a serial killer.
FOUND (or if you prefer the pretentious titling “found.”) is an extremely low-budget (the movie was made for about $8,000) coming of age horror film, adapted for the screen by its novelist. And when I say ‘horror film’, I’m not fucking joking. Like at all. They may not have had much money to make this movie with, but they used every last dollar to its fullest potential and delivered something so utterly disturbing and profound, it has literally shaken me.
And I’ve seen it twice now. There was no less “shaken-ness” upon my second viewing, even knowing what was ultimately coming.
Marty is a young boy who loves horror movies. His older brother also has a love for horror movies, but it seems that maybe big bubba’s fascination with the genre has gone far past his little brother’s. From the opening scene we’re made aware that Marty’s older brother is a serial killer who likes to decapitate his victims and put their head in a bowling ball bag, which he keeps in his closet. Every so often, Marty goes in to have a look. It’s usually black women (there’re a couple of moments where we see that Marty’s dad and older brother are racists), but once in a while it’s a man, even a white man sometimes. Marty’s brother has no idea that his brother knows his secret, and is very defensive of anyone coming into his room for any reason without his explicit permission.
It goes without saying that the family dynamic is, well…fucked. Marty is bullied at school, his dad is a racist asshole, and his mom has her head in the sand. And to top it all off, as I started with, his older brother is a serial killer.
But there’s more to it than that. While a serial killer, there seems to be one person in the world Marty’s brother actually cares for: Marty. He’s rough with him when he finds him snooping in his room, but when he finds out about how his little brother has been bullied, there is a genuine brotherly bond shown, and it’s totally believable. Marty’s brother isn’t soulless, though the ending might make you think so (we’ll get there in a minute). Just mostly so. But he cares about Marty. We get the impression of neglect, perhaps even some abuse that has happened to the brother in the past, though it’s never shown or spoken outright. And it’s this implied aspect that makes the relationship between Marty and his brother seem so genuine. Marty is scared of his brother. Marty knows he’s evil. But Marty also knows that his brother is, ultimately, the only one who is willing to stick up for him in this world.
The movie’s production quality isn’t high, but you wouldn’t think you were watching a college project film at any point, either. Like I said, every dollar of its tiny budget is used to its full effect. The acting, especially by Marty, is actually pretty good, and there are some terrific moments of suspense that have you gripping the armrests of your chair and holding your breath.
It isn’t until the middle of the movie that it gets really nasty, when Marty has a friend over and they borrow one of his brother’s movies he’s stolen from the video store, called HEADLESS. The movie within the movie is mindless splatter trash, but it’s extraordinarily graphic: women’s clothes ripped off by a masked psycho who then chews off one of their breasts, decapitating victims only to fuck their head through their esophagus, all shown in very graphic detail, coming just shy of faux snuff.
The movie shakes Marty, makes him realize who his brother has modeled himself after. Marty loses all his friends along the way because of the bullying and no one wanting to be associated with him. He’s into drawing comics and making up cool heroes and villains, but when his best friend writes him off and his parents lose their cool with him, Marty’s brother loses his cool altogether, and in glorious, horrific form.
I’m not going to give away the ending, because it has to be experienced to really get you. Most of the violence is off screen, but what we know is happening is probably the most depraved thing I’ve ever seen committed to film (NOTE: I have not seen and will not see A SERBIAN FILM, I don’t need that level of filth in my head). It’s a powerful ending, if hard to watch, but I promise you it will leave you with your jaw hanging open and, perhaps, your stomach rolling. And it’s power comes not in showing you every gory detail, but by experiencing it all through Marty’s perspective, as his brother goes about as batshit as anyone on film ever has. He’s not over the top like Nic Cage can go—there’s nothing fun about this movie—but he’s at least as insane as I’ve ever seen Cage get, and if I’m being honest, far surpasses any of his roles in terms of being deranged.
There is some graphic, shocking nudity and implications in incestual rape towards the end. This movie sort of falls into that slasher flick style in the final fourth of the movie, but it does it with grace and respect for the audience’s intelligence, and without giving a single good goddamn how you feel about it.
In short, this is a powerful little horror film. It isn’t going to be for everyone, probably not even most people, but for those who can appreciate this sort of cinema, I think you’ll be hard-pressed to find something more profound in low budget horror after the final frame cuts to black. It’s haunting, horrific, mesmerizing, and all too real.
It can be found on Shudder, Prime, or on DVD. I advise those with weak constitutions to avoid this film. It is not a film to watch with your kids. This movie takes itself deadly serious and doesn’t go for laughs. Because there’s nothing funny about it. It’s too real. The bullying, the neglect, the pain of growing up, the bond of brotherhood, and the ultimate, psychotic ending, all of it is played straight, and the movie is all the more horrifying for it because it never blinks, and there is never a winking moment of levity to any of the content.
I’m usually one who prefers the darker stories to have some humor in them, but there is none to be found here. And for this movie, it works. That’s where it gets its power. This isn’t a fucking joke and it’s all too possible that this could really happen. I don’t think a big budget movie could have ever pulled this off, never mind the fact no major studio would ever come near it, even with a twenty foot pole.
Take what I’m saying here seriously: DO NOT WATCH THIS IF YOU CAN’T TAKE EXTREMES. There aren’t many, but when they happen, they genuinely shock, but they don’t shock for the sake of shocking you.
It shocks you because, as you’ll see, it’s so real you can see yourself in it.
Chris Miller is a native Texan who began writing from an early age. In 2017 he began publishing, and since then has published several novels – including the Amazon bestselling Splatter Western Dust (nominated for the Splatterpunk Award) – a collection, Shattered Skies, and has also been inducted into many anthologies. Chris is 1/3 of the writing collective Cereberus, and likes to play guitar. He is first and foremost a family man and is happily married to the love of his life (and best friend) Aliana. They have three beautiful children and live in Winnsboro, TX.
Shattered Skies —
Taut as a guitar string. More relentless than time. Award-winning author Chris Miller offers up ten tales of terror and suspense to crank up your anxiety in the way only he can.
Desperation, panic, worlds on fire, and much more.
Featuring a foreword by Patrick C. Harrison III and a story co-authored with M. Ennenbach, SHATTERED SKIES will leave you breathless, white-knuckled, and wanting more.
The Master of Suspense is at your service.
Cereberus Rising —
(co-authored with Patrick C. Harrison III and M. Ennenbach, together Cereberus)
A poet, a master of horror, and a master of suspense join forces as Cerberus. With three prompts–Cabin Fever, Letters, and Chaos–the three-headed beast dishes out nine novelettes. Cerberus Rises with their unique styles to take you on a journey through nine different levels of Hell.