Review: ‘Preternatural’ Delves Into the Found Footage Genre
Hailing from England, Gav Chuckie Steel’s Preternatural is a strange trip of a movie and one that I’m sure you’ll enjoy! This horror-comedy, about a duo of amateur filmmakers that set out to make a film of their own, is an interesting journey into postmodern self-reflexivity, shot like a mockumentary. Possibly fed-up with the tired cliches of the found footage horror genre, Dixon and Gavin (Dixon Barker and Gav Chuckie Steel) head to the nearest forest to videotape a spoof of the genre. However, the goofy filmmakers don’t get what they bargained for when they cast weirdo and off-kilter Mark (Mark Williams) for their movie, and as they head deeper into their local forest, things start to take a turn for the worse.
Playing with the rules of cinema and the anarchic and self-reflexive nature of the spoof, Preternatural toys with the idea of the real and the ‘reel.’ Accompanied by a sharp script from Dixon Barker, Steel’s film is an accomplishment in its method and subject– as a spoof and a found footage movie. The filmmakers use the found-footage genre as their own personal playground to explore the complex nature of reality and the constant flurry of the moving image that this modern culture cannibalizes. This meta-narrative never allows for a moment of verisimilitude, in fact, it is possibly best to question everything– what’s real and what’s not? What’s merely part of the film, and what is actuality?
Director Steel, who also brought us The Shadow of Death, surprises with Preternatural in a unique film that manages to be complex, yet palpable and fun for its audience. Its playfulness is matched by its creativity, and while the story unfolds slowly, once we figure out the filmmakers actual intent, we immediately join in the fun. Most of the film is a comedy, so when the horror arrives on the screen, the shade from light to dark quickly and effectively changes, never feeling forced or arbitrary.
Preternatural is a nice little treat from across the pond, both intuitive and insightful. The film does a fine job in lampooning the found footage genre, yet enlightening with an entertaining, smart, and quirky horror-comedy that feels new and refreshing. Ironically, the film works well as a found-footage film as it does as a comedy.
Preternatural is currently hitting the festival circuit and played at last year’s Calgary Horror Con.
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