REEL - REEL(DVDR) [Bloodfiend Distribution - 2019]
REEL stands as one of the more involving and creative found footage films of recent years- it also has a rather nasty & brutal string in its tail as towards the end we drop into gruelling intenseness that goes towards August Underground territory. The film features a believable & relatable lead character, flashes of unease and tension building, with touches of more arty & sad imagery- all driving towards the gut-punch ending. I first became aware of REEL after seeing mentions of the film of an underground horror groups a few months back- people where raving about the film, and it also had a neat/ creepy twist to its production- as the film is meant to be the first film of faceless psycho-in-training Slashervictim666. So I reached out to the makers via facebook messages seemingly chatting directed with the deranged director- who through-out our several messages never broke his role- coming across at times almost creepy- which was a nice touch. Anyway after a few months wait the film rolled up at M[m] offices, and it was certainly worth the wait. The makers sent us through a double DVDR set which takes in the 1 hour and 18 minute cut of the film, commentary tracks, and more.
The films introduce to Todd Smith- a decidedly passionate & geeky webcaster who does vlogs about found footage films, fairly soon we find out the clips we are seeing have been edited & put together Slashervictim666 who is seeming stalking Mr. Smith. As the film goes on we find Smith left a small Canadian town, to move to the big city away from his family who wanted him to run the family business, and there’s more than a little bad blood between Smith and his brother. As we move on we find Smith is rather arrogant & often fairly obnoxious in his opinions, and his obsession with his brother seems rather unhealthy. We also find out about the childhood of the Smith family, and on the flipside the very unsettling childhood of Slashervictim666- as both where captured on video. I won't detail the plot much more than above, as the whole thing nicely twists & turn along in a fascinating, at times chilling & unsettling manner.
The cast is understandable fairly small- Todd Smith is played by Mike Estes- who does an extremely believable job as geek-if-slight egocentric & a little unbalanced vlogger. Slashervictim666 is never seen, and we get a slowed-down voiceover from him- this is largely effective & unsettling, though from time-to-time this does become a little muffled/ difficult to hear. The small supporting cast is also very natural & later on very brutality mocking/ unsettling. The whole thing is edited together at a good & rapid pace, with some neatly arty shots of snowbound country landscapes & rundown urban buildings mixed in here and there, and when the gore & gruelling-ness kicks in it’s very visceral & harrowing- and it’s made even more so as you’ve become to really know the Smith character. If I had one slight criticism then it would be that the nasty stuff is a little too gruelling/ intense for its own good- and as I mention in my intro we move towards August underground/ fake snuff territory- which I think will be a little too intense for most, and it even had me flinching. On the whole, REEL certainly deserves all the praise I’ve heard for it, and I’d say if you’re a found footage fan you need to see this- just be wary of the sting in the tail.
Moving onto the two-disc set- and on the first disc, we get the following extras - three commentary tracks on the film- one from Slashervictim666- this felt a little too silly/ playful for its own good, as he puts on also muffled like cartoon-like voice. Next, we get a track from supposable critic Chris Carr- again this feels a bit too playful/ mocking- with him making fairly clichéd movie critic comments, though from time-to-time he does make interesting points/ observations. The final track is from the B-movie bros, and this finds the pair firstly set up a drinking game about the film, then chatting about it- I can’t say I played much of this, as by a third commentary one does start to get jaded. Next, we get a 'revisiting the locations from the film' short- this runs around fourteen minutes, and again is more fun/ silly than scary. Then we have an around six-minute description of the different versions of REEL- this finds Slashervictim666 doing a voice similar to the commentary- it’s amusingly rumbling I guess.
The second disc in the set offers up a host of Todd Smith related material from his bizzaro min movie Cannibal Kitchen- this comes in two different cuts. And then we get 20 of Todd Smith full videos.
In conclusion, REEL is certainly one of the better made & impactful underground horror films I’ve seen in some years. So if you enjoy found footage, and or extreme cinema you’ve got to check out REEL!- head here to pick up a copy direct.Roger Batty