After the explosion of popularity in found-footage style horror following the release of The Blair Witch Project, the genre became oversaturated to the point that new releases elicited little more than an eye-roll. I know cameramen are dedicated to their craft, but would they really keep filming when the witches or the zombies or the werewolves were tearing their faces off? Probably not. And yet, there’s something about found footage that is different. It grabs the viewer and pulls them in in a way that can’t be replicated in traditional films.
Butterfly Kisses is a found-footage film within a documentary within a documentary. It tells the story of a filmmaker, Gavin, who discovers a box of old films in the basement of his in-law’s home. No one really knows where the films came from, but when Gavin begins to watch them, he realizes they are the rough footage of a documentary some students shot about a local urban legend. The story goes that if you stare down a train tunnel for a full hour without blinking, a demon named Peeping Tom will appear in your distant vision. Why would that be the case? Who knows. Don’t think about it too much. But every time you blink, he gets closer…and closer…and closer. Until he’s right up on you and then…he gives you butterfly kisses.
OK, so that’s probably the dumbest, least frightening twist possible. But hear me out. This is a good movie. It’s not Lake Mungo good, which may be my favorite of this type of found-footage film. But it is consistently engaging, with a plot that sucks you in. The acting is great, the movie in a movie in a movie setup works. Does it sorta sputter to an end? Do people do really dumb things? Does the central conceit violate the rules set up in the beginning? Yeah, and that’s why it’s not a perfect movie. But it’s one you’ll enjoy and one you’ll think about well after the final credits roll.