Found footage films are a gamble. Think of your time as your chips and the films you watch are the cards. Sometimes you draw a royal flush and sometimes you just accept that you lost all your chips to a crap hand. Dead Voices is one of those winning hands that takes you by surprise. A great story, executed with a myriad of scares and cinematography, and tied together with some great acting, make Dead Voices a must-watch masterpiece.
This found footage film finds its footing early on. It jumps right into the story but not skipping any essential details that many found footage films blaze right past. The steady pace and build add up to a double whammy climax at the end that leaves you begging for more movie. The set-up is fairly standard… two sisters Sara (Angelica Briones) and Emily (Lauren Albo) are working on a documentary about spiritual mediums in an attempt to contact Sara’s deceased ex Lucas (Jack Buckley). After interviewing a fake medium (Lochlyn Munro), they stumble upon Mike (Jacob Kyle Young), who looks like the real deal. The trio visits Lucas’s family home outside Yosemite and dark secrets begin to reveal themselves in full force. Typical found footage film, right? Maybe…but Dead Voices has a few tricks up the sleeve that sets it apart.
The film utilizes just about every trick of the trade, and that is to its advantage. Slow burn, jump scares, noise scares, and lighting choices are just a few of the different types of scares you’ll find throughout. And there isn’t much in the way of a soundtrack, but the music that is present enhanced the unceasing stress I felt while watching.
The lighting in this film is phenomenal. Much of the anxiety and anticipation created in the film is derived from the absence of light. In several scenes Emily (Albo) runs outside, using the camera light as her flashlight. In an isolated cabin outside Yosemite there are no city lights so that bright light showcases the ominous darkness that waits just beyond the reaches of her light. My family has a home just outside Yosemite so I can attest that when the sun goes down, the darkness in such an isolated place is just as ominous as it appears on screen.
The storytelling is enthralling from start to finish. Young wrote a story worth telling and did so in a way that did not feel choppy or rushed. Essential details are released when needed, and not a moment too soon. Character development and plot twists are abundant in Dead Voices, making it a guessing game from start to finish.
The story may be captivating, but any film is only as good as the cast that creates it… and Dead Voices has a kick-ass cast. Young, Albo, and Briones all deliver wonderful performances. Young and Briones perform dynamic theatrical displays in tight camera shots. They had me hooked from the get-go. Albo showed the widest range of emotion displayed. Ranging from flirtatious, to gregarious, seductive, scared, upset, angry, and concerned. She nailed them all. These three delivered such stand-out performances, I could have watched an additional hour worth of movie and still wanted more.
In addition to a stellar cast, Dead Voices has cinematography to die for…pun intended. In the beginning, while Emily (Albo) is in the early stages of her film project, the shots are choppier and more disjointed. After Emily invests in her “steady cam” the shots become much more solid and less nausea-inducing. This noticeable change lasts throughout the rest of the film. Along with several types of scares, Dead Voices boasts several types of camera shots. Long slow panning shots, zooms, and quick classic frenzied found footage shots to name a few. The camera also quickly changes position in the house as it is handled by just about every cast member. This is perhaps my favorite piece of cinematography. It gives the viewer a deeper look into each character and their motives while moving the story along and creating a sense of unease. Since no one person has control of the camera, the investigation is no longer controlled…and anything can happen. This constant change keeps you invested in the story and echoes the mood set by Young’s writing. Hats off to Matt Sconce for the excellent cinematography. Thank you for proving the potential of found footage.
There are only minor moments of inconsistency or cheesy overacting. Certainly not enough to ruin the entertainment factor or take you out of the story. If you like found footage films then this is one not to be missed. Even if you don’t like found footage films, I say give it a go. Put your chips on Dead Voices…it’s definitely worth the gamble!
Movie Rating 8 out of 10
|Runtime:||1hr. 20 Mins.|