There seems to be a tradition in the found footage genre that dictates its films should begin with a plain text disclaimer; you know, the standard, “This film was assembled from 25 hours of footage recovered by police, and damn, it’s horrifying…” BE MY CAT: A FILM FOR ANNE is no exception, adhering to this rule steadfastly, but the rest of the film is different from the usual found footage fare. This is not PARANORMAL ACTIVITY or another supernatural imitator; BE MY CAT focuses on the horror of obsession and the depths of depraved human fixation.
Romanian filmmaker Adrian Tofei plays a twisted version of himself, obsessed completely and utterly with the idea that he’ll convince Oscar-winning actress Anne Hathaway to star in his film. He lures unsuspecting actresses to audition for him on camera, where he taunts, tortures and murders them to prove to Hathaway that he is worthy of her attention because of his incredible performance and willingness to go to extreme lengths for his art.
While being a Romanian production, almost every line in BE MY CAT is spoken in English. Ostensibly, this is because Tofei is making his film for Hathaway, and he spends a lot of the runtime speaking directly to her, but I’d hazard a guess it’s to make the actual film more attractive in the international market. There aren’t a great deal of Romanian horror movies (or at least not that I’m aware of) so it’s great to see something so different coming out of the country.
BE MY CAT, like many found footage films, is very low budget with not much in the way of action, relying more on building suspense and dread leading up to horrible acts of violence. When they come, they’re unpleasant and realistic, sharing more in common with HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER than the increasingly cartoonish torture scenes in the SAW series. There’s a definite documentary realism here that’s rare in horror.
The film feels very raw, and perhaps that can be attributed partially to its Eastern European setting. There’s something about horror films set in that part of the world that makes you feel like anything could happen. It also helps that the performances from Tofei and the actresses he auditions are incredibly convincing. Tofei comes across as authentically psychopathic. I couldn’t help but wonder what it was like filming some of these scenes, and whether the actual actresses felt they were in real danger. It really is that convincing!
Tofei’s character is completely disconnected from the reality of what he’s doing because he’s doing it through the lens of a camera. He laughs mischievously, excited by the prospect of showing his work to Hathaway. He doesn’t see what he’s doing as real, because he’s just a character in his own film. Tofei IS the movie – it’s all about him and his delusion. We’re trapped inside his head throughout the runtime. We’re forced uncomfortably close to him – so close that we can almost smell his breath fuming through his grimy teeth – and treated to unflattering shots of his face that are nearly as unpleasant as the nasty scenes of torture.
Unfortunately, we don’t find out much about his motivations besides some cliche explanations toward the end; which is disappointing considering we spend so much time with him and his thoughts. His plan makes less sense as time goes on, and the Anne Hathaway link becomes tenuous. The momentum fizzles out, strangled by a few long-winded sequences of dialogue that border on interminable.
This is not a film I would recommend to general audiences, but if you’re a diehard fan of found footage and you’re interested to see something a little more on the intense and experimental end of the scale, BE MY CAT offers an unconventional approach. The performances are fantastic and the concept unique, but the overall package is let down by lack of depth and brevity.
I can’t help but wonder if Anne Hathaway knows this film exists, and if she’ll ever see it. I’d love to hear her thoughts!