First, this film contains no connection to director Rafael Kapelinski’s dramatic film of the same name released in 2017, rather as many others state, and I agree, is a documentary inside a documentary inside a documentary found footage horror film, which makes it hard to review without exposing many spoilers, therefore be forewarned it might occur unintentionally. This production comes from Four-Fingered Films, which saw its Blu-ray, DVD, and digital release on October 23 courtesy of Gravitas Ventures, however more importantly it comes from the skilled hands Erik Kristopher Myers, who served as director, writer, producer, editor and casting director, and while not listed likely craft services. His film to date, has been shown at numerous festivals and earned 14-awards, and possibly to become a new avenue in the found footage subgenre. This entry follows the path set forth by The Houses October Built (2014) and, in some ways, returns to the presentation of The Blair Witch Project (1999), in either case this subgenre, often attracts new budding filmmakers, as the expensive fairly ultra-low, and use the urban legends as the backdrop for the storyline.
Now, to make this review work the best, is to separate the two documentaries, the one from 2004 and then 2015, which contain a wrap-around story like an anthology flick of Gavin wedding videographer who uncovers hours of lost footage shot in 2004, by two amateur film-makers supposedly in shoe box with the clearly fresh marked words “Don’t Watch”. The first part set in 2004, a senior project of a film-school student named Sophia Crane (Rachel Armiger) her more experienced cameraman, Feldman (Reed Delisle), are making a documentary about a local Maryland urban legend known as The Blink Man, who appears at real Ilchester train tunnel at midnight. All one needs to do is not blink for an entire hour he will appear at the other end of the tunnel. After that whenever you blink he gets closer until his long eyelashes touch you, hence Butterfly Kisses. It is shot in black and white activating the legend and discover it is real using a camera recording in place of someone staring for an hour (not a bad plan). When looking at the footage afterwards then you begin to see the entity appearing at a random location when the camera is on, always getting closer to them, actually the camera. Their footage often grainy, broken up and with the sound and visual effects layer a hidden meaning for others to discover later on in the film.
The second half is from 2015, dealing with Gavin York, which the cast credit of IMDb lists as himself, and shows nothing after this movie, however the end of film credits shows the real name as (Seth Adam Kallick) more on this later. When Gavin with a weird reenactment of showing where he found the box, on a very clean basement floor behind the furnace, he mentions the house was built in the 1970s, but that year has no impact on the film, just a box of old tapes and the last one called ‘Final Solution’ a few cryptic words. As he feels this might be the big payoff he wants, everyone around him tells the opposite, that what he wants and feels it’s more a scam. Gavin attempts to take the unfinished work and make it his own documentary. His path scattered with dollar signs and losses, rather than discovering the mystery, meeting parents, a larger investigation, and he discovers sound alterations on the video when The Blink Man appears – Morse code – weird. It expands to connections to Weird Maryland books, public and experts in different fields i.e. paranormal and film making such as Eduardo Sanchez. By late in the third act things begin to deteriorate for Gavin and the darkness of doom and death of his dreams begin to crush his world of fantasy with harsh realities.
It has some great qualities, but the rational part of the mind enters into the equation which others in the film bring up too, such as why is the found footage always in black and white (B&W), doesn’t color exist in this realm. I could understand, if one feels being authentic to the subgenre of found footage flicks, but why is the behind the scenes of the two primary characters in the doc in B&W and not color. Then going to the location, involving only two filmmakers, why not include others, paranormal team or urban explorers, more than two cameras, one at each end of the tunnel, I understand going for the privacy, but the B&W just a sticking point. Then near the end with the behind the scenes crew walking up a hill and a cinematographer complaining about a low battery, as a journalist and worked with other filmmakers never understood this, everyone brings back up batteries and tapes. One of the major distractions comes the constant switching between the two separate timelines, a series separated flashbacks, ruin any positive suspense or cover of mystery. The film’s tagline ‘the camera doesn’t lie’, it might not but the operator can and often does, we’ve all seen that the editing sequence, provided practically in any movie.
Myers, gives a solid movie, which entertains, if one doesn’t dwell too long on the approach, and the scenes often keeps an exceptional pace, never filling the screen with mundane elements, and provide a true single jump scare, which works very well. The film restores some promise in the found footage subgenre, though it’s possible that future movies might use more urban legends/myths and this entity likely to get its own horror movie sometime in the future.
Tagline: The camera doesn’t lie.
CSX – Ilchester Tunnel https://bridgehunter.com/md/baltimore/ilchester-railroad-tunnel/ Tunnel on CSX Railroad (formerly B&O Railroad Old Main Line)
IMDb Rating: 8.6/10 (as of 11/6/18)
Baron’s Rating: 6.0/10