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Cinema/TV, Film Notes

Film review – The Gracefield Incident

My notes on the found footage film, which is in US cinemas and digital platforms on July 21.

A Canadian found footage science fiction film which deploys a lot of familiar tropes – a cabin in the woods (fairly upscale), three contrasting couples who don’t always get on well, local legends about Bigfoot, a possible UFO crashlanding, a mystery object, a long-limbed beastie (cryptid or ET?) – but has some new twists in store.  The outcome isn’t entirely unpredictable (more Gene Roddenberry than Rod Serling, for a change), but it is unusual in the context of this kind of movie, which more often develops along the lines of the Vicious Brothers’ Extraterrestrial or the FF efforts Evidence and Skinwalkers.

 

It opens with a car crash that traumatises an attractive, upscale couple – Jessica (Kimberly Laferriere) loses a baby and husband Matthew (writer-director Mathieu Ratthe) loses an eye.  The lost or dead child is one of the more overused shortcuts to character depth, though it does later have some thematic weight … more unusual is Matthew’s use of a prosthetic eye with an inbuilt camera (late in the day, one of his friends learns he’s recorded everything and mutters that the red light in the iris should have been a giveaway) that provides much of the footage, along with a pal’s new, high-quality camera.  Some months after the tragedy, Jessica and Matthew set off  – with friends Jonathan (Victor Andres Turgeon-Trelles) and Elizabeth (Laurence Dauphinais) and Jessica’s younger brother Trey (Alex C. Nachi) and his distracting girlfriend Julia (Juliette Gosselin) – to spend time at a woodland retreat (in the eponymous Gracefield) owned by Matthew’s boss, whose hobby is searching for Bigfoot.  This means that traps are set around the property which, of course, someone blunders into at the worst moment.  The character interplay is familiar, and the crises that arise after the city folks have retrieved a strange meteorite from a crash site are pretty much as expected – travel and communication becomes problematic (but those devices keep recording), folks wander off and seem to disappear, the terrified people squabble, and a sinister creature (with long fingers) starts stalking the cabin.  Matthe plays a few clever games with his eye-cam, with one neat bit of misdirection as his gaze follows Julia’s thong as she heads for the hot tub just when he ought to be looking at something else.

 

It perhaps sticks to the familiar paths for a little too long, but the last act has a few fresher ideas and pays off satisfyingly.

Here’s a trailer.

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