Found footage is that is difficult to make feel fresh and new. To breakthrough, the ideas need to be there that sets the movie apart from the rest of the pack.
It’s pretty rare that I stumble across a found footage horror movie that is as modern and unique as Butterfly Kisses. I’m pretty amazed that this isn’t talked about more when people discuss the subgenre.
This 2018 movie is a movie within a movie within a movie. (Got it?) Gavin is a filmmaker who missed his chance at making movies his career. He’s settled for shooting wedding videos and limiting himself that way. But when he discovers a box that says “Don’t watch”, so promptly watches the footage he finds inside the box.
In comes the documentary crew, intrigued by Gavin and his passion for what he’s found on the found film. What he’s discovered is a rough cut of a movie, which is actually a documentary of a local legend called Peeping Tom. The footage is shot by college students Sophia Crane and Feldman. Just “Feldman” like Prince, I guess.
According to the legend, Peeping Tom will appear at the end of a tunnel if you stare at it without blinking for an hour before midnight. It’s a pretty lofty rule, which Crane and Feldman soon realise no one can do. But one night, after filming the tunnel before midnight, the students realise that their camera has been considered an eye, and it has won the staring competition.
Peeping Tom begins to appear in the students’ footage. Feldman is seemingly convinced it is all real. Crane is less certain of what she sees but knows it will make for a great movie.
Gavin, meanwhile, is convinced that the footage is real. His search for either student brings up nothing. So he takes it upon himself to string the footage together to make a complete movie. Despite his earnestness, no one believes him. That trick was already done with The Blair Witch Project, and no one is falling for that again.
Butterfly Kisses switches alternates between the documentary about Gavin and the footage from the students. At times it’s a bit distracting, as you rarely get to settle into what’s happening on screen. But it soon becomes apparent why this is happening: the parallels between what happened to Feldman and what’s happening to Gavin increase.
Feldman and Gavin’s demise happen seemingly happen at the same time as the footage of both men come to their ends. But what is real and what isn’t? The documentary crew aren’t entirely sure, but they each come to their own conclusions. It’s really what found footage is all about: what are we, as viewers, really willing to believe?
With modern technology, we can create fake footage of almost anything. But it’s almost as easy to disprove. Does that mean we’ve lost the ability to believe in anything and can explain the unexplained away?
I think I enjoyed Butterfly Kisses more for what it made me ponder about than the actual movie itself. Though I think it’s incredibly clever. There’s lots being played with and messed with here that fans of the genre will love picking apart.
It’s a shame this isn’t better-well known. Thanks to the random list on Twitter I saw months ago recommending this. You’re a star, whoever you are!