As a society and really as a species we are fascinated if not obsessed with our own mortality. Most religions teach there is some form of an afterlife and I think it speaks to our greatest fear, we at some point will cease to exist. We gain comfort in the idea of an afterlife but undermine that feeling by making it sinister. What if the eternal offers no solace and only fuels our anger? What if those who were filled with hated and malice in life as we know it carry that same animus forever?
Chances are the premise for THE FINAL PROJECT could sound somewhat familiar. Six eager students strike out to explore and record live footage of supernatural activity at an abandoned plantation, but one unsettled spirit gives them more than they asked for. Horror films often need to separate their protagonists/victims from society so all hell can be unleashed and we get our $10's worth of scares. The conceit of the students working on a class project gives them a reason to continue filming once said hell begins to show itself and the rural location allows for crappy cell phone reception.
Performance is always what carries a film and found footage acting is complicated/nuanced in ways that other genre staples just aren't. The actors are forced to be self aware and present while remaining uncomfortable in front of the camera but keeping in mind they are trying to act comfortable. If that last sentence is a jumbled mess its because I'm not a gifted writer and that's the best way I could illustrate my point. The acting in this particular sub genre is just tough and often under appreciated. This is Taylor Ri'chard's first feature and he managed to get strong performances from all his leads.
THE FINAL PROJECT is something of a slow burn that pays the audience for its patience. Ri'chard gives his characters depth and respects them enough to make them the center of his film instead of the gore or scares. With enough jumps and shocks to satisfy the Fangoria crowd this film will find its audience but I hope non-genre fans will give this one a shot because I think it has he potential to cross over.
THE FINAL PROJECT hits theaters beginning Feb 12th in Atlanta and Houston, March 4th in New York and Los Angeles, and then expands nationwide. For more information check out the films official website.