Once again, UFF reminds detractors that found footage films are here to stay… and for good reason
Last week concluded the 5th annual Unnamed Footage Festival, a film fest in San Francisco that defies expectations each year by playing a variety of new and retro screenings of the best found footage, faux doc, and POV style films in the horror genre and beyond. With some you’ve heard of and many you haven’t, each year’s line up gets bigger and better… and year 5 was no different.
With the world premiere of the new film from writer/director Jacob Estes (writer — Rings, director, Mean Creek), He’s Watching, a screening of the great meta horror-comedy Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, and a full slate of repertory screenings and brand new features, it was certain that UFF was ready to bring the festival to new heights and it certainly did.
Crowd pleaser Putrefixion was one of several international films to grace the slate with its inventive and feminine take on genre film.
After purchasing a 360 camera, Nina starts recording her daily life as a way of developing her skills as a director in hopes of getting accepted into film school. But while dancing and doing drugs, strange things begin to happen. PUTREFIXION utilizes the disorienting nature of a 360 lens to transform Mexico city, accentuate the ritual of dance, and open a new chapter of in-world camera narratives. As Nina, model and dancer Dalia Xiuhcoatl commands the space and movement of the camera, giving this portrait of a young woman’s brush with the supernatural a mesmerizing feminine energy.
The crowd was totally in love with the film’s style and point of view. The UFF Twitter noted that some of the audience felt like they were battling vertigo, but everyone was blown away.
While one of the few films that was decidedly not a horror film, 2017’s Base may have actually included some of the scariest and most heart wrenching moments. A film that includes a good deal of real life base jumping, wingsuit flying, and skydiving footage, it is filled with harrowing moments and genuine pathos from beginning to end. Tying this footage into an extremely well drawn story that sucks you in from the early moments, it’s hard not to spend a great deal of the film’s runtime worrying about the fate of the characters that you are being endeared too from the onset.
Unlike anything I’ve seen in the world of found footage before or after viewing this one, Base is a unique blend of extreme sports footage, powerful storytelling, and genuinely shocking moments. It ranges the gamut of emotions in ways that far few films do and is a great example of how this festival defies expectations and definitions.
The film is all the more harrowing when you find out that the star of the film actually died in a wingsuit accident prior to the release of the film. The film ends in dedication to him… and if you’re not tearing up by the end of the film, you may not have a heart.
The Outwaters is a polarizing one. Some love it and others hate it, but everyone seems to want to talk about it, myself included. While I can note that is decidedly not for me and was on the lower end of personal preference for the films I watched as part of UFF (which were numerous, as I watched the bulk of the slate), I can also note that The Outwaters impressed me as extremely ambitious in regards to films that use the found footage format.
From locations to effects to camera usage, The Outwaters was willing to try new things and think outside the box, with results of varying levels of success in regards to my personal tastes. And, whether or not each decision worked for me as a filmgoer, each one seemed to make sense in the grand scheme of things and — even moreso — each one was more impressive that the last, in terms of the aforementioned ambition and the technical skill needed to pull it off.
Four travelers encounter a menacing phenomena while shooting a music video in a remote stretch of the Mojave Desert. Filled with indescribable creatures squirming their way out of darkness, THE OUTWATERS is a dizzying slow burn of other-wordly terror caked in dried blood.
If you find yourself ready for some blood and viscera soaked scares, you may find that The Outwaters is right up your alley. But whether or not you love it, I assure you that you’ll have something to say about it when you’re done.
All said and done, just like Base defies genre expectations and Outwaters thrives on ambition, UFF also breaks barriers and sets itself up as a film festival of a different color and different order. Unnamed Film Fest 5 was a success, with a bigger and better lineup than ever and even more to come.
For additional coverage, you can check out my reviews over at The Farsighted. I highly recommend seeking out films like Curse of Aurore, Deadware, Masking Threshold, My Inner Demon, and more.