For me, as many people, the found footage genre holds a special place to me. While found footage existed before 1999, it was The Blair Witch Project that breathed fresh life into the genre, making it a still popular genre to this day. Enter the Unnamed Film Festival which specializes in the best horror subgenre (yes, I mean found footage) and you can experience all the shaky camera angles your little heart desires. Because of them, we’ve gotten more exposure to certain found footage horror films that we might not have had a chance to look at post-distribution. One such film was THE LOST FOOTAGE OF LEAH SULLIVAN. I went in with a skeptical eye and came out very pleasantly surprised.
THE LOST FOOTAGE OF LEAH SULLIVAN was written and directed by Burt Grinstead and follows the story of Leah Sullivan (Anna Stromberg), a college student who heads to her hometown to investigate the cold case murder of the Mulcahy family 30 years earlier. As she investigates, she meets up with a police officer Patrick Rook (Grinstead), the brother of an old schoolmate, who helps her investigate. The home, where the murders took place, remains empty and abandoned, although there seems to be a lot of sound coming from a home that’s been empty for 3 decades. As Leah interviews locals and talks Patrick into letting her read the cold case file, she begins to notice the deaths and disappearances around the abandoned home didn’t end with the Mulcahy family but has persisted for 30 years. With that knowledge, Leah gets stars in her eyes and sees more than just a college project. She thinks she can get international recognition for solving a cold case file, but you know what they say….curiosity killed the cat.
Taking reference from films like Paranormal Activity, these types of found footage films have a heavy focus on building tension before a big finale but sometimes the lead up can be a bit too slow and boring but the film ends with a bang. THE LOST FOOTAGE OF LEAH SULLIVAN is the exact opposite. The best parts of the film are all in the lead up with a rather disappointing finale. The interviews and the interactions between Leah, Patrick and the people participating in the film is very realistic and at times really funny. The scary beats are small but effective but I found as the film crescendoed to its height that the earlier stuff was better.
All in all, THE LOST FOOTAGE OF LEAH SULLIVAN is a good watch. It doesn’t overstay its welcome and the scares aren’t over top. I appreciate when a horror film, especially a found footage film, doesn’t rely on jump scares to drive it forward. Found footage movies are supposed to feel real and put the audience behind the camera and this movie does that well. While the ending leaves a lot to be desired, the ride leading up to it is worth the time.