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Butterfly Kisses

USA 2017
produced by
Stacie Jones, Carlo Glorioso, Kenny Johnson, Erik Kristopher Myers, Robin Nicolai, Cory Okouchi, Lisa Mikitarian (executive), Sam Mikitarian (executive), Alexander Shell (executive) for Four-Fingered Films
directed by Erik Kristopher Myers
starring Seth Adam Kallick, Rachel Armiger, Reed DeLisle, Eileen De Valle, Erik Kristopher Myers, Matt Lake, Robert Shin, Daniel Furst, Eve Young, Lilly Pine, Kelsey June Swann, Alexandria Benford, Andrea Hanlock, W. Keith Scott, Kaleo Okouchi, Janese Whelan, Michael Whelan, Consuelo M. Edwards, Chris Peregoy, Ryan Thomas, David Sterritt, Steve Yeager, Andy Wardlaw, Margaret Ehrlich, Jaime Horrigan, Kevin Hill, Matt Davies, Monika Butke, Mike Jones, Eduardo Sánchez, Carla Okouchi
written by Erik Kristopher Myers

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Available on DVD !

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Filmmaker Gavin (Seth Adam Kallick) has found a box of 10 year old DV tapes in someone's attic, and watching them he really gets into the story these tapes, raw footage for an intended documentary about an urban legend: Film  students Sophia (Rachel Armiger) and Feldman (Reed DeLisle) plan to make a movie about the "Peeping Tom", a kind of supernatural baddie that only appears if one stares into a certain tunnle without blinking one full hour, starting at midnight, but once he has appeared to you, he moves in closer to you every time you blink, until he's close enough to kill you. Thing is, the footage they get is less than exciting, and getting Peeping Tom to show up (if he's there at all) as the chances for someone not to blink for an hour are slim - and then Feldman has the idea to set up the camera from one hour start midnight, as the camera can't blink ... and lo and behold, on all subsequent footage, Sophia and Feldman find Peeping Tom - at first only kind of blurry and in the background, but he slowly approaches the camera more and more ...

Gavin is fascinated by the footage, and since he's completely unable to track down Sophia and Feldman, he makes it his task to finish their documentary. Only problem, he's the only one who believes in the authencity of the tapes, everyone else thinks it's a hoax, either made up by himself, or - as some scenes of Sophia and Feldman discussing adding special effects to their footage suggests - by the original filmmakers which only Gavin fell for. So his footage is dismissed at a conference of paranormal investigators, folklore writer Matt Lake fails to show interest in the urban legend as such, film critic Steve Yeager thinks it's crap, and even Eduardo Sánchez, co-director of The Blair Witch Project no less, think it's a very blunt cash-in on a genre he once spearheaded, even pointing out the footage's shortcomings. Only filmmaker Erik Kristopher Myers shows genuine interest, offering to shoot a documentary about Gavin and his project - but he too might have some ulterior motives ...

 

Now by 2017, found footage films pretty much already a dime a dozen, and while there are plenty of good ones out there, there are even more that feel like a cheap excuse to not have to deal with the more sophisticated techniques of filmmaking (like setting up shots, write convincing dialogue, properly pace and edit scenes, or build up suspense by other means than shaky camerawork and heavy off-screen breathing) - and that's what makes Butterfly Kisses - which is half found footage film, half mockumentary to be exact, genres that have a lot in common though - so ingenious, because it basically acknowledges all of the above and does make on-screen comments about these points - with the inclusion of The Blair Witch Project's Eduardo Sánchez being the icing on the cake really. And while the film follows the typical tropes of the found footage genre, it does so knowingly and letting the audience know, and is really (with the exception of the finale) less a horror movie than a character study about a man eaten up by his obsession and becoming a danger to himself because of it. And the film really uses the mockumentary structure to build up its story arc rather perfectly, thanks first and foremost by clever writing and helped by a relateable cast. It's really a film that especially those not into found footage at all will like!

 

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