When I first started reviewing horror films, I was under this odd assumption that once I launched a site, people would eventually approach me to review their films. I learned very quickly that that was most certainly not the case, at least in my experience. More often than not, I am begging and pleading for upcoming releases to review. Still, there is the rare occasion where someone will contact me through one of my social media accounts, asking if I would check out their film. I, of course, oblige. Sometimes it bites me in the backside and I have to sit through almost 90 minutes of utter trash and other times I am pleasantly surprised. Read on to find out where category Chris Goodwin’s Reel falls amongst the bunch.
Todd Smith (Mike Estes, Decline) is a YouTuber, a found footage lover, and an aspiring filmmaker. Little does he know, he is also the first victim of another filmmaker and psychotic killer, SlasherVictim666.
If you’ve followed my website for any period of time, you know by now that I am a pretty big fan of found footage films. Hell, there are periods of time where that is all that I will watch. Because of this, I’d like to say that I’ve seen all — the good, the bad, and the ugly — that the sub-genre has to offer.
Reel, like many of its predecessors in this format, utilizes footage from multiple resources to compile its narrative. Handheld camcorder footage, YouTube video clips, smartphone recordings, and more help to complete the rather short 79 minute runtime. Using all of these methods as a means to propel the story forward isn’t anything new by any means, but it is still as effective as ever. There is always a sense of realness to these types of pictures and this 2015 indie flick is no different in that regard.
Writer and director, Chris Goodwin, isn’t the first one to make a found footage film. He does know how to use the medium appropriately though. Whereas Hollywood wants their films, even their horror, to be shiny and polished, independent directors want their films gritty and rough around the edges. There is no better way to make that happen than to use this found footage technique.
Filmmakers don’t have to worry themselves about a small budget when making a film of this nature. Don’t have enough money for fancy lighting rigs? Can’t afford the newest and most advanced 8K camera? None of that matters. As long as you can tell an engaging story that keeps your audience’s attention, you can effectively make a good film. That is just what Goodwin has done here.
I was very skeptical going into this one. I was asked to review the film, so I said yes. I was then sent an email with all sorts of assets. Stills from the film, quotes from other reviewers, and more were included in this correspondence. Among this stuff was an excerpt from a letter from someone who was set to interview Goodwin, but decided to cancel said interview because of how “intense” and “graphic” Reel was. Could this really be true or was this just a good marketing technique to get people to check out the movie?
Needless to say, I was expecting to be let down. I can happily say that this is not the case, however.
Reel starts off like any film worth its salt. We are introduced to our focal character, in this case Todd Smith. We then learn more about him as a person. While the motive behind what will eventually come Todd’s way isn’t necessarily fleshed out completely, I don’t feel like I am missing anything.
The real meat and potatoes of this film comes in the last 20 minutes. Once Todd meets his inevitable fate, he is subjected to some rather heinous acts. For over 12 minutes, we as an audience, watch Todd beaten and tortured. Even with what I can only assume is a minuscule budget, the special effects are rather impressive throughout. We’ve seen it all as longtime horror fans, but as grizzled of a veteran as you may be, you will still feel a certain way when seeing Todd get his teeth ripped out, his skin flayed, and so much more.
Reel at Home
This is usually the part of my review where I tell you guys where you can spend your hard-earned money to purchase a copy of the film in question. Even better this time, you can keep your cash, and go and stream this film absolutely free.
If you head over to ReelStore.net, you can watch Reel in its entirety, as well as learn more about the film. If you really love the movie, you can also buy a limited DVD copy. I tend to love collecting physical media, so I am sure I will be grabbing myself a copy very shortly.
I am extremely happy to say that I enjoyed Reel. It started off somewhat slow, but with a short runtime, it didn’t take long to get to the sweet stuff. If you are a fan of the more violent found footage flicks that are out there (i.e. Hate Crime, August Underground), you will definitely want to give this one a watch.
I give this one a final rating of 4 dysfunctional families out of 5.
I am also a found footage connoisseur like yourself and I gotta say I LOVED Reel. I am looking forward to part 2 making its way to dvd. Great review btw.
I still need to watch part two, but I’ve heard it takes all the good stuff from part 1 and makes it even better!