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12-year-old Marty (Gavin Brown) is a bit of an outcast. A shy, mop-top 5th grader, Marty is consistently bullied by his classmates and he escapes the evil world around him by indulging in the refuge of horror films, books and comics of the macabre. Marty is not particularly close to his brother Steve (Ethan Philbeck) but he is fascinated by the idea that his older brother may be a serial killer after finding a human head in a bowling bag in his brotherís closet (this is not necessarily a spoiler as Martyís narration details the head in the closet before the opening title cards).
Never speaking of the decapitated heads found in his room, Marty quietly goes about his days with a fascination of his brotherís secret life until one day the reality of Steveís actions is confronted by the two brothers leaving Marty fearing for both his life and that of their parents. Such is the idea behind Found, an interesting character study by Scott Schirmer that had its Toronto premiere at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival Wednesday evening.
Based on the novel by Todd Rigney, Found is a soft and yet powerful film that quietly goes on its way to provide a relationship story between two brothers and the violence Ė real and on video Ė that surrounds and impacts them. Martyís connection with Steve is at the heart of the film and the relationship forged between the two brothers is relayed with an authentic and believable approach.
Steve is concerned for how Marty is being treated both inside the home and at school and offers advice (and eventually actions) to help rectify the issues impeding Martyís growth. Marty on the other hand has mixed feelings for his brother. As the violence associated with Steveís actions begin to have social impacts on young Marty, he begins to question all the things he loves to see in the movies he rents from the local video store.
Found progresses at its own pace using the most of its reported $8,000 budget to bring us a twisted tale that goes from 0 to 11 in a matter of minutes during the final reel. Forgoing the innocence and PG-13ness of the first hour and fifteen minutes Schirmer throws the genre kitchen sink at the audience with everything from necrophilia to bondage to incest in the final few scenes before the audience is abruptly greeted with the theatreís illuminating lights.
Before any of this violence, the movie rests upon the talents of the young Gavin Brown who does a superb job of keeping his character grounded with an acting performance that outshone any of the adult actors he shared credits with.
Hardly a movie for everyone, Found reminded us a little of Kill List in that the ending took us somewhere we werenít expecting and gave us plenty to discuss on the train ride home and then again the following morning. The final shot of Found is disturbing but not in a manipulative attempt to shock (that was handled admirably the few scenes before). Instead, it gives us closure to an odyssey of how two brothers deal with their individual secrets and how madness within a family can have the most dire of consequences.
A perfect edition to what has already been a stellar line-up at this year's Toronto After Dark Film Festival, Found should be exactly that.
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