Found footage films rarely impress me. Therefore, I tend to avoid them unless a) the premise sounds slightly more unique than the usual (The Monster Project), or b) I have a reason to watch the film despite it being found footage (Voodoo). Had I known what I was in for with this double feature, I wouldn’t have needed any excuses to check them out.
THE MONSTER PROJECT (2017)
It took almost an hour, but The Monster Project ended up being one of few found footage films that left me saying, “I have to have this film in my collection.”
The immediate premise is cool. Buddies that make bogus monster hunting videos for a YouTube channel decide to take a new approach—put out an ad seeking people who believe they are real monsters. They rent an abandoned old house in which to conduct the interviews.
But first we get “character development.” Eh. Some of it is necessary (I guess) because it presents one of the main guys as being rather “off.”
There are a few strange occurrences as they try to get their new show off the ground, but none of it is interesting enough to prepare you for what happens once all hell breaks loose at about the 55-minute mark.
It is so worth the wait. Holy monster insanity! I was in screaming heaven! The creatures are hardcore, the footage is fast, frenetic, and damn epic for an indie found footage flick, and there’s a fricking crawlspace scene. Why? WHY?
We even go into crazy exorcism territory. The Monster Project simply doesn’t stop moving for the last 40 minutes. And dammit—people still haven’t learned that you never approach a crying girl standing with her back to you.
I checked this film out intending to add it to my blog about horror movies featuring an appearance by Ron Jeremy. After watching it, I don’t even understand why the filmmaker felt any need to put him in it for 30 seconds. It’s so beyond the Ron schlock I’ve covered.
This movie is messed up. The story isn’t exactly cohesive from beginning to end, and at times the found footage POV seems to be there without any explanation. But for me, none of that matters, because it just absolutely took me to voodoo hell. SERIOUSLY.
In a way, this is like an indie take on the film Satanic. Considering it was a mainstream flick, I enjoyed that film quite a bit, but Voodoo takes things to a whole different level.
If the occult and the black arts creep you out, the opener will make your skin crawl. Involving an abduction and voodoo sacrifice in a playground, it’s disjointed and surreal in one sense, yet disturbing and very real in another. It also has very little to do with the rest of the film.
We meet a southern girl who comes to L.A. to hang with her friend. This is the part that feels like a simple found footage movie, with them filming everything they do as they party and have fun (and run into Ron Jeremy as himself at a restaurant).
There are occasional strange little occurrences—some quite eerie—suggesting that something really bad is going on with the main girl. She seems normal and innocent, but we learn one thing about her that she says pissed off a supposed voodoo lady back home.
Then it just happens. Out of nowhere the voodoo strikes. Say goodbye to any sense of reality (or any logic of when there is and isn’t a camera filming what’s happening), because within minutes this girl is dragged to a hellish dimension and a nightmare of mental horror torture begins. She is absolutely terrorized and taunted by demonic beings and forced to witness some seriously fucked up shit.
There are some physical attacks that amp up to the most extreme kind by the end of the film, but most of the horror here is in the notion that someone has used magic to damn this girl to an endless onslaught of inescapable, unthinkable, otherworldly horrors. In a weird way, what she experiences and the actress’s nonstop shrieks brought me back to how I felt the first time I watched what Sally goes through at the end of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
What makes this so much worse is that this girl seems like a good person, not even at fault for what she’s blamed of doing. There are hints that her past is more complicated than she’s revealing, but none of it is ever clarified. By the freakish final frame, you might not have a clue as to what it all means. However, if my interpretation is correct, you really have to pay attention to what’s happening visually and being said to pick up on it. Even putting the moral implications aside, what gets under your skin is the notion that someone she barely knows could have the power and desire to make her suffer to such extremes.
There’s a part of me that would want to have this film in my collection because it so relentlessly plunges you into such intense horror, but it’s almost too much to take because it never lets you off the hook.