An effective, fast-moving anthology that makes masterful use of its limited resources, “Project Eerie” is a found footage film that works.
Written and directed by Ricky Umberger, Project Eerie is a found footage film making its World Premiere at this year’s outstanding GenreBlast Film Festival.
In the film, brothers Jesse and Jacob Warner disappear during a livestream on Halloween night.
Jesse (Braydan Wade) and Jacob (listed on IMDb only as Jacob) are live-streaming their Halloween exploits, consisting of the usual juvenile stuff that makes barely a ripple in social media circles. Remembering a derelict office building, they break in and chance upon abandoned U.S. Military files, including a DVD discussing PROJECT EERIE. From the moment they press play, their lives will never be the same again.
Rather than having the two brothers narrating the video as it plays, the film progresses seamlessly from one segment to the next. For me, this works quite well, using the Portmanteau style of storytelling whilst using the DVD as the linking device.
It manages to avoid having a lull between episodes by just having the video play, so it feels like you are watching the last thing the brothers watched.
As we know, the found footage genre can give you a lot of bang for your buck, especially with some inventive direction, and this creative take on the subgenre is no exception.
The limited make-up effects work well with the quick cuts to hit hard and keep things moving quickly. Each video offers enough to keep you engaged.
As a collection, we get an effective set of tales that tap into darker fears.
We also get nods to established genre classics, but I’ll leave you to discover those enjoyable references.
The first story revolves around a dad and his daughter during a weekend that goes horribly wrong. It’s truly chilling, keeping the tension running with a very lean runtime. Right out of the gate, Umberger wastes no time setting a terrifying tone and taking no prisoners.
The second story features two hunters trying to catch a man accused of killing his wife and daughter. They soon find themselves plunged into a desperate fight for survival following an encounter with a crashed space station carrying deadly cargo.
The third and final story features a couple of presenters from an online paranormal show visiting an Amish community to investigate strange activity reported by a new resident. They soon learn that the supernatural is real and that it’s not the house that is the problem.
The three stories have a nighttime link running between them, which seems to have no bearing on the tales until we get to the final segment. It’s very disturbing, and I won’t spoil the fun here.
The ending is as expected, given that we know the boys disappeared on Halloween night, and no one breaks into a Government facility (disused or otherwise) without someone knowing about it.
Umberger delivers some first-class chills against a small budget.
The cast is game, and each actor does enough to make you care about his or her plight and sympathize with them as things go awry.
The first tale hit the hardest, with Trevor Mullins (played by Umberger) plumbing the pits of despair. He manages to convey so much so well in the limited time allotted to this tale.
The last story is a cool take on those Paranormal Investigation programs and moves quickly with a “never explain, never complain” approach that has a claustrophobic feel to it and is handled impressively.
A great deal of thought is put into the setup for each of the shorts, and Umberger resists the urge to employ the same familiar jump scares from story to story or even the same stylistic approach. For example, the first story looks darker and less polished due to the time frame it takes place (1994), as compared to the other two stories which are more modern.
A truly welcome addition to the found footage subgenre, Project Eerie is investing, well-executed, and inventive; it’s well worth a watch whenever you can catch it.