Film Review: The Gracefield Incident

Another horrible found-footage thriller, suffering from some of the worst acting and direction yet to be seen using the format.
Specialty Releases

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the woods with a video camera, along comes the latest Blair Witch Project rip-off, one that makes the recent Blair Witch remake seem like a masterpiece by comparison.

After making a couple of horror shorts, French-Canadian filmmaker Mathieu Ratthe tries his hand at a feature-length film, in which he plays a character also called Matthew. As the film begins, Matt is driving in a car with his pregnant wife Jessica (Kimberly Laferriere), and they get into an accident; Matt loses an eye and his wife loses the baby. Over the opening credits that follow, we see Matt constructing a suitably realistic replacement eye with a built-in camera.

Yes, this is how far (or low) we’ve gone with this incessant “found footage” genre: a filmmaker feels the need to give his character an “eyeball camera” in order to capture everything that happens to him.

Months later, Matt and Jessica are on their way to a weekend vacation at a cabin in the woods with two other couples. We’ve already been given an early hint about what to expect when Matt sees a news report about a meteor heading towards Earth.

There was a time when these found-footage movies still might have been considered somewhat clever, but 2012’s Chronicle may have been the last use of the format that didn’t feel forced and formulaic.

Ratthe has written terrible characters and hired awful actors to play them (including himself), so you almost immediately hate every single one of them. Ratthe’s accent constantly slips in and out, and he’s surrounded himself with a cast of incompetents, seemingly given the freedom to adlib most of their dialogue, which just makes their characters that much less convincing.

Because you don’t care about any of these people, it’s unlikely you’ll care what happens to them, especially as they run around the woods in the dark being chased by God-knows-what, all captured with bad shaky camerawork. (I don’t know about you, but if I were being chased by anything in the woods, the first thing I’d do would be to drop my effin’ camera!)

The main reason The Blair Witch Project worked as well at scaring moviegoers as it did was that it convinced us we were watching real people being terrorized in the woods. There is absolutely nothing nearly as convincing about Ratthe’s film, possibly because we’ve seen so many other movies trying to create this exact same illusion. Even sadder is that Ratthe tries to throw in what might have been some poignant or meaningful moments between Matt and his wife about their lost child... before we’re back into the Paranormal Activity-level scares.

The Gracefield Incident suffers from many of the same problems as the recent Blair Witch remake, carelessly editing together footage from various sources—including Matt’s eyeball cam—to convince the viewer they’re watching something “organic.” Add to that the very weak practical FX and gore that give away the film’s negligible budget, and you have a prime candidate for worst movie of the year.

Offering no redeeming value for horror fans, The Gracefield Incident is further proof that not everything in life needs to be filmed... or watched.

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