(XLRATOR MEDIA/FORBIDDEN FILMS (103 minutes/Unrated); produced 2012, released 2014)
“My brother keeps a human head in his closet.” When a movie begins with a line like that, you just know that you’re in for a laugh riot… or, one of the most deeply disturbing stories you’re ever likely to see. FOUND. is based on a novella by Todd Rigney, the coming of age, innocence lost story of seventh grader Marty, who discovers that his older brother is a serial killer. As Marty narrates, we learn that, maybe, the creepiest aspect of the whole thing is that brother Steve is the only person in Marty’s life who really cares about him and looks out for him. Well… there is one other thing that kinda came out of the blue and hit me like a hammer, not “creepy” in the strictest sense of the word, but unsettling, nonetheless. More about that later, though.
Marty (portrayed by Gavin Brown) is pretty much your standard issue twelve year old, into comic books and horror movies. He’s quiet and unassertive, not yet into girls. All of these things are like beacons to the school bully, a bigger kid who has problems with authority (and pretty much everybody that doesn’t bow down or cower in fear when he confronts them) and may have been held back a year or two due to his disciplinary problems. The first time we get a look at Marcus (belligerently played by Eddie Jackson), he flips off the teacher and is shocked – shocked, I tell you! – that she has the audacity to punish him. The scenario sets up a confrontation between Marty and Marcus and, later, Marty and his best friend, David (Alex Kogin). Both scenes add to Marty’s misery, alienating him even more. The episode with David quickly devolves as he aggressively starts to verbally abuse Marty during a sleepover. Marty finds himself questioning his life and wondering if he could do what Steve does, wondering if all of the abuse will make him a killer, too. Once Steve (Ethan Philbeck) discovers that his brother knows what he does late at night, even that relationship begins to fray.
There is a scene between the brothers that is emotional and heart-warming and, oddly enough, the scene that introduces a reason for Steve’s actions. Marty asks him, “Why?” and it’s then that we learn the murders are racially motivated. It’s not exactly out of the blue, because the kids’ father uses a racial epithet early on in the story but, still, it just seems a little… gratuitous. After that bombshell, Steve makes it known that if Marty tells their father or anyone else, he would take care of them. “What about me?” asks Marty. “I would never hurt you, Marty.” As the story progresses, we are also privy to the brothers’ home life, why Steve does what he does and why Marty is the sensitive, quiet one. From that point forward, FOUND. spirals toward one of the most brutally disturbing endings ever put on film.
Marty’s love of horror movies is exploited in the sleepover scene with David, as the two borrow a couple of… shall we call them “art house” movies? One is called HEADLESS, apparently the impetus – surprise, surprise – for Steve’s murderous proclivities; the other, DEEP DWELLERS, comes off as a schlocky monster movie with (intentionally) bad acting. Neither is particularly well-done, but then that’s the whole point; these “movies-within-the-movie” are there, more than anything, to move the plot along. As unbelievably gory (and borderline unwatchable) as HEADLESS is, it’s almost like a bad car wreck: You just can’t look away. There are full versions of both of these “movies” as part of the special features.
This movie (and the HEADLESS short, in particular) is not for the weak-at-heart or the easily offended and, it definitely isn’t intended for anyone under the age of, say, seventeen (yeah, kids, it really is that graphic!). However, anyone older than that who enjoy their horror flicks more on the psychological tip (and you aren’t one of those delicate types that are easily upset with sexually graphic gore), FOUND. is, ultimately, one of the best genre entries you’re likely to see this year. But… be warned: “Stuff like this can really warp a person.”