February 16, 2016 The Final Project (Movie Review)
Urban legends have fed generations of believers and non-believers that the living are not alone, and spirits surround them. No matter the cultural background, many have grown up listening to the tales of our grandparents, aunties, and uncles about the haunting of some place in their town. About the grizzling stories of violent deaths and crimes that have left violent spirits trapped in an area, just waiting to get whoever decides to trespass their space. With that in mind, there is new Documentary style film The Final Project. The directorial debut for Atlanta-based, Louisiana native Taylor Ri’chard, he teams up with Zachary Davis to write their first ever screenplay. Released via CAVU Pictures and 3rd Fathom Films, The Final Project hit theaters in Atlanta, Georgia and Houston, Texas on February 12th.
The audience is greeted by a faceless man who decides to share the “found lost footage” that is recovered from what is left by six university film student’s attempt to present their final project to graduate. Anna (Teal Haddock: Realm of Souls 2013, Legends 2014), Genevieve, a.k.a Gen, (Ari Jones: film debut), Jonah (Leonardo Santaiti: Insurgent 2015, Forgive Me Father 2015), Gavin (Sergio Suave: film debut), Misty (Amber Erwin: Realm Of Souls 2013, It’s Supernatural TV series), and Ky (Evan Mclean: film debut) head out with the support of the camera engineer (Charles Orr: The Help 2011, Single Ladies TV series) to try and uncover something others dare not. Disregarding many warnings of not going, they still continues on to make the documentary about the haunted Lafeet Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana.
Similar to a lot of other college student Drama, The Final Project may remind some a little bit of films like Hostel. Igniting audience’s interest, things become creepy following a very loud and chilling scream from Gen. This wakes the entire crew up in the van as nobody knows what caused the fright. Gen states it was a nightmare, yet viewers are never truly given more detail, leaving it unknown. Moving the story along, the group decide to stop at the typical gas stop to get their spirits back up, but the cashier only gives more warnings of the violent spirits that reside on the plantation such as stories of dead Confederate soldiers and a vengeful lady in white.
At this point, Jonah is having second thoughts, but has no luck in convincing the rest of the group to turn back. Finally, they arrive at their destination, park the van, and walk through the woods that takes them to the house. Here, a very creepy caretaker (Benjie Anderson: Happy Hour Last Call video, A Christmas to Remember 2015) keeps going on about how he never visits the plantation at night, but of course no one cares to pay attention to his stories and request for the keys as they are in a hurry. Then, from the moment they open the door, things start happening. One is a nasty smell that invades the area, another, Gen seems to be not herself. Quickly, Gen is nowhere to be found, and as everyone splits up trying to locate her, the sun begins going down. As it does,everything turns violent, and whoever is not in pairs, meets their death. As for the audience, all they can see becomes distorted with the screen going black, only allowing them to hear what is happening. Finally, the last pair is frightened and desperately try to locate their friends, but only find Gen, just to discover it is not her at all anymore. After not being able to find their van, they decide to go back to the house, but exactly what has followed them?
With The Final Project, Ri’chard decides to utilize sound effects as well as angles to frighten the audience opposed to gore and eye-candy. While it is his first feature, it is easy to see his experience in the different areas of film came in handy. The story of The Final Project may be a little cliched, especially with the classic student characters, but Ri’chard makes it work. Although, some may love to have seen a bit more of a backstory on who the evil spirits were, but all in all, The Final Project is a compelling view.
A fun fact that makes the film more interesting is that the Lafitte Plantation story was based on the Chretien Point Plantation. Located in Sunset, Louisiana, it was a site of the bloody battle between Union and Confederate soldiers, thus making this a said “hot spot” for supernatural activity in North America. Feeding off that story, the Supernatural Documentary theme The Final Project stands out from the rest. CrypticRock gives this movie 3.5 out of 5 stars.