Michael Ramova Brings Back Found Footage Films With “Panteon Wood”
By: Nick Spacek
Sisters Riley and Rebecca Rey have teamed up to film a documentary about Chanoc, “the werewolf of the Panteon Woods.” Such is the concept of Panteon Woods, a found footage film by director Michael Ramova. Riley has a streaming video channel, wherein she explores cryptozoology, with sister Rebecca working as her cinematographer. The pair is desperate for hits and potential work, respectively, and this is a big deal for the pair.
Ramova has a great grasp of how YouTube stars (and aspiring ones) shoot their videos. Each of Riley’s updates end with a “Riley Rey loves ya!” as she blows a kiss and flashes a peace sign. Her sister, Rebecca, is a little bit of a flirt, given to flashing cleavage and swearing at the camera, in order to “get the fucking hits!’ The pair are accompanied by tracker, Gregory Blackrot, who is himself a bit of a character, given to occasional discussions that are alternately flirty and strangely dark.
What’s been great about the recent rise in the resurgence of found footage horror is that the conceit behind so many of the early films in the genre is that the characters would continue carrying bulky cameras for no apparent reason, despite impending doom and disaster. The shots in Panteon Woods are all purposeful, and at no point is anybody holding a camera while running, with crisp images and everything in focus. The camera gets dropped and the viewer doesn’t see things, but terrible stuff still happens, and it’s pretty disturbing, even unseen.
The dialogue — especially Blackrot’s — all rings true, and doesn’t have that usual sense of forced emotion that so many other found footage films have. It’s actually like listening to people have conversations, rather than some forced jocularity or overwrought emotion. People muff words, stutter, and otherwise seem like they’re having actual conversations on camera. Panteon Woods takes some interesting twists and turns in its brisk running time, but it’s more the performances than the premise that keeps the viewer interested. The ending, I thought, was going to go somewhere, but went somewhere else entirely. It’s a matter of personal preference as to whether you prefer the actual ending or where it could have gone.
Panteon Woods takes some interesting twists and turns in its brisk running time, but it’s more the performances than the premise that keeps the viewer interested. The ending, I thought, was going to go somewhere, but went somewhere else entirely. It’s a matter of personal preference as to whether you prefer the actual ending or where it could have gone.
Regardless of whether found footage is appealing to you as a viewer, Ramova’s Panteon Woods shows enough verve and determination in its execution, and via the performances of its small cast, to warrant a watch.
Panteon Woods is making the rounds at various festivals, and also available to view on Amazon Prime.