Disturbing, gritty, and at times gross, it’s a new take on the serial killer. Based on the novel by Todd Rigney, who also penned the screenplay, and directed by Scott Schirmer on a budget of just $8,000, Found is a film that takes the story of a serial killer and shows it from a different perspective. A child’s perspective to be exact. Marty is a shy kid that keeps to himself, his life seems pretty normal until he discovers a severed head in his brother’s room. That’s right, a severed head just sitting in a bowling bag in his brother’s room. The shocking part is, he’s not too concerned about it. The opening line, words that grip you from the start in their cold, dead hands, says it all; “my brother keeps a human head in his closet.” Tells you everything you need to know. There are two brothers, one keeps heads in his closet and the other is…kind of okay with it.

It’s not just one head though. His brother Steve has actually killed many people. He just switches the head out every few days. Usually, it’s black women and he often rips their hair out. Wearing his mother’s best kitchen gloves (she washes the dishes with those things man!), Marty studies these heads with morbid curiosity as if they’re just yet another shocking treasure a kid might find in his older brother’s bedroom. No different than porn, pot, or wannabe Satanic paraphernalia purchased from Hot Topic.

Marty may be willing to keep brother’s murderous secrets, but he’s not entirely accepting of it, or I guess I should say, comfortable with it. That changes, however, once he realizes the power it gives him. A power he struggles with. He starts looking at everything differently. A victim of relentless bullying, Marty lives like a mouse in a world of wolves. The brothers have a strange relationship that seems distant at times and codependent at others. As their relationship strengthens, the darker Marty becomes, and the more resilient he becomes toward his tormentors, viewing violence as the ultimate weapon against his own personal institutes of oppression.

It’s more than just a story about a kid who finds out his brother is a serial killer though. As I said before, it shows the mind of a serial killer from a different perspective, removing us completely from their viewpoint. There comes a point in the film where Steve reveals why he kills but the reason that he gives is clearly a lie. It may be what he tells himself, an explanation he’s made his personalized excuse, but in reality, Steve doesn’t have an answer, even he seems mystified when questioned. He’s aroused at the notion of inflicting pain but is either unaware of this or incapable of grasping the concept as fact.

Found shows the total lack of self-awareness that resides in the psychopath. Even they don’t always know why they do what they do, they just do it.

I’m going to be frank here and say that I believe the film to be slightly incestuous. The taboo theme appears twice, one in a more obvious context but it lingers very faintly throughout the film. It can be interpreted in any way one wishes but I feel that Steve’s borderline infatuation with his brother, especially near the end, crosses a certain line. However, it’s impossible to know what’s really going on in Steve’s head because everything is seen from Marty’s perspective. It’s both a strength and weakness of the film. Steve remains a huge question mark in the end. He seems to be a living contradiction when it comes to emotion; an angry teen who draws pleasure from pain but falls apart at the mere sight of his brother’s tears.

Found is layers on top of layers and like Rachel Green’s abominable English Trifle, there’s a meaty surprise inside. There is both a cultural and a psychological frame of mind presented with a large chunk dedicated to toxic masculinity. It is surprisingly well-rounded. Don’t look at the cover and write it off as another exploitive horror movie, it’s more psychological than anything else.

At its core, Found is a disturbing coming of age film that doubles as a study of the psychopath. It details the struggles of a boy coming into manhood, and the dangers of seeing his psychotic older brother, a stand-in for hypermasculinity, as someone to revere. My only real issue with the film has nothing to do with the plot but just the camera work that makes it feel like a home movie. Near the end, the quality adds to the realism portrayed in the story but it takes a while to get used to.

3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

‘Headless’

Headless isn’t really a spin-off of Found. It’s actually a movie within a movie that was popular enough to become its own feature. Headless appears as part of the plot in Found as a film Steve steals from the video store that serves as his inspirational “how-to” murder guide. A part of the fake feature is played in Found in a sequence that is definitely one of the more disturbing, and over the top, moments of the film. It goes past gooey, torture porn, and just dives headfirst into House of a 1000 Corpses territory.

The DVD and blu ray of Found features the full uncut version of Headless that appeared in the film, running at about 24 minutes. Fans, however, wanted more and in 2015, a full-length feature film based on the short was released and produced through a Kickstarter campaign. It’s a little hard to find now. It can be watched on YouTube and you can buy the DVD on Scott Schirmer’s website but aside from that, I don’t think it can be found anywhere else.

It isn’t the exact movie that Steve and Marty watched but it features the same character of the Masked Skeletal, once again played by Shane Beasley, doing what he does best. Going around decapitating young women. Headless is definitely for a select audience. The Terrifier crowd might get a real kick out of it. I personally disliked it because it was a nonstop gorefest that didn’t have much of a story aside from copying and pasting Ed Kemper’s biography into the screenplay.

There isn’t much of a plot. I actually found it quite boring, but that’s my own personal opinion, I’m sure there are many who would disagree. It tries to find a common ground between slasher and arthouse, revolving around the unnamed killer I refer to as the Masked Skeletal as he carries out his many grisly murders. Through flashbacks, we learn of the abuse he suffered at the hands of his mother and sister, who made him sleep in a dog cage that he continues to sleep in even as an adult. The abuse resulted in a hatred of women and a damaged psychosis that causes him to hallucinate a young boy with a skeleton head. The child, a possible representation for his stolen youth, directs him in his day to day life, including his many kills.

Headless is not something the average person would enjoy, not because it’s bloody but because it has almost no dialogue or character development and doesn’t follow the typical cinematic format. Imagine if Richard Rameriz or Kemper had a video camera. That’s what this is.

My favorite thing about Headless is the fake trailer that appears before the movie starts for a film called Wolf Baby, something that looks way more interesting than this.

1.5 out of 5 stars (1.5 / 5)

Photos are property of Forbidden Films.

About the Author

Rachel Roth is a writer who lives in South Florida. She has a degree in Writing Studies and a Certificate in Creative Writing, her work has appeared in several literary journals and anthologies. @WinterGreenRoth

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