A production company called Cryptic Pictures first created a documentary thriller, but because of the controversial methodology of how they ‘filmed it’, changed to the context of a shockumentary, before finally in 2013 nestled on Horror, Mystery and Thriller genres for the movie Mortal Remains. The filmmakers to lessons from those of The Blair Witch Project (1999) involving Eduardo Sanchez (who found himself interviewed for this flick), and took their found footage film in a vastly different direction giving it something entirely new for fans to ponder on and enjoy. The movie tries to answer a question who is Karl Atticus, a snuff director, a Satanist, a murderer from the early 70s? This film entitled Mortal Remains written and directed by Mark Ricche and Christian Stavrakis, with a passion for the art of horror and thought about carefully about the marketing of their movie, which hounded the festival circuit for quite awhile and four years later receiving distribution. Their flick, garnished much attention, from truth seekers and many horror fans in general. One must note this movie contains no connections to Henry Scammell’s book Mortal Remains: A True Story of Ritual Murder published in 1992, although the topic eerily similar. Mortal Remains finally released to the public on DVD/ VOD in October 2017 (actually on Friday the 13th, of that month) and given an extremely limited release via VHS, which sold out quickly.
Chris and Mark’s Mortal Remains (2013) works more as a mystery at first but then second it transforms into a thriller and the third finishes in horror. They based the title of the film on supposedly Karl’s film of the same name, but as they plunged into the research, they find follow up interviews resulting in slammed doors, and rude answers and one major jump scene in the film, giving them madness. While using a documentary style it allows them to work in the back-story nicely and finally create what found footage films generally miss, character references. By using a person from the 70s the lack of net news works to their benefit, the internet doesn’t hold all the knowledge libraries do as well as cemeteries. However, some things should stay dead, sometimes they have a way of coming back, and this movie helps that happen. When it comes to the interviews, some horror fans will likely notice Nick Tallo (Dawn of the Dead (1978)) as a pleasant surprise. Soon their hunt reveals the possible suicide (murder) of a local legend named Karl Atticus (or did he fake his death), the suspected snuff film director of Mortal Remains (1972). He also is supposedly accused of using real footage of cadavers stolen from the local graveyard, causing a panic in Baltimore back in 1972 and creating two controversial and seemingly lost horror films in the ‘70s, then again is any of it real, or just fake news or a well protected cult. The filmmakers work very hard in deciphering clues, lies, and false truths and weave an interesting path for the film, through the discovery of ciphers and cryptograms, all on their minuscule budget. The incorporation of themselves on the screen works nicely, and lends some authentic qualities, especially encountering the spooky abandoned (or maybe not) house.
A few horror scenes exist though not much gore, again this production centers more on mystery and thriller, with the ability of sound storytelling. Now not everything works perfectly, but all movies have stumbles, and the appeal for the film varies upon festival audiences. In addition, a bit of pacing and a few continuity issues occur, but not enough to ruin the overall conceptual design of flick, but their marketing works to sell the film. However, one needs to go deeper just as The Blair Witch Project caused controversy, and rampaging conspiracies, this movie generated large following of sleuths and others seeking to join the Atticus’ Cult, one could provide details from the research this reviewer conduct, although best for everyone to discover their own truths, see past the fog, peer into the darkness.
Overall, Mortal Remains entertains the audience nicely, giving a wickedly fun adventure layered secrets and lies, using 3-genres for each act of the movie, and carefully burying Easter eggs or better yet their own ciphers to have followers willing to take the step and cross beyond the line and join the cult of Karl Atticus.
IMDb Rating: 7.5/10
Baron’s Rating: 9/10