Friday, 28 July 2023

8 Found Dead (2022) - Horror Film Review

To begin with, the Travis Greene directed 8 Found Dead seemed like it was going to be a traditional slasher movie. It soon become clear that this was going to approach the slasher genre in a slightly different way to normal. This was mainly achieved by having four separate interconnected mini-stories playing out at the same location but at different times, a plot device that led to the viewer constantly puzzling out what exactly had happened at the central location, and in what order the events transpired.

It isn't initially clear in what order the stories that take place are in, so rather than piece them together the synopsis will just mention them all. The prologue shows Air BnB host Jessie (Jenny Tran - The Walking Deader) arriving at her remote desert based property to clean up, but it isn't long before she encounters an axe wielding maniac. Meanwhile, in present day, two police officers head to the place after receiving an emergency call, it is here they discover five bodies. With the state police called, the two decide to spend the time before they arrive trying to work out what happened. At some point, social influencer Sam (Alisha Soper - American Horror Story TV show) and her boyfriend, Dwayne (William Gabriel Grier) arrive there, having rented it for the weekend. They are surprised to discover another older couple are already there, insisting that they had booked the place. The couple, former actors, Richard (Tim Semek) and Liz (Rosanne Limeres) invite the couple in, but their eccentric and creepy behaviour begins to make Sam and Dwayne uncomfortable. In another time, Carrie (Aly Trasher) and Ricky (Eddy Acosta) arrive at the same place, having been delayed due to car trouble. They too encounter Richard and Liz, and they too come to be concerned about their bizarre actions.

The best part of 8 Found Dead was solving the puzzle of exactly who were dead. The clues in the title with eight deaths, yet with an on-screen cast of nine characters, and with the police officers only discovering five bodies meant there was a lot unknown. It is established relatively early on that the old couple are the ones responsible, with both of the oddball characters being responsible for some of the murders. There is also a slow-drip reveal of who the victims were, with some shown implicitly on camera with the cause of death discussed, and some more obscured, such as a victim who has died face down on the ground. The death sequences were not bad for the most part, there was a strange decision to have the death scenes keep pausing. This made for a stilted feel which had a bit of a jarring effect, I'm not sure if this was done as a way to make the kills look more authentic, or if it was a stylistic choice, but I wasn't that taken with this editing method.

With the film mainly following the two different couples who had arrived to discover the psycho characters pretending to be normal, a lot of the film details the lead up to the killings. Both Simek and Limeres were great in their roles, over the top and perpetually grinning like the maniacs they were, yet not so over the top as to feel forced. With the back story they provide being that they were both former theatre actors, their eccentricity gets to be explained away a bit. Characters mostly all had fleshed out elements to them. Even the two police officers got backstory, with them being a separated couple still forced to work together. Sam secretly has cancer, something she is going to reveal to her friends, Carrie is an actress struggling for work now she is getting slightly older in looks, all characters get to be slightly more than just faceless victims.

8 Found Dead became memorable due to the four stories all taking place in the same location at different times. Without this concept this wouldn't have felt anywhere near as good. It was fun how details of the story were drip fed to the viewer, and having killers be at the forefront of the movie, rather than silent masked lurkers. I didn't think the edited kill scenes worked too well, elsewhere the filmmaking had some fun moments, such as characters appearing to break the fourth wall at times with what they say, and one effective time when a character stares directly into the camera. With the antagonists being theatre trained actors and the protagonists being social media driven 'personalities', this could be seen as a literal conflict between old and new. It could just as easily be taken as a somewhat mindless, but still enjoyable slasher.


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