‘The Final Project’: Film Review

Six university film students spend the night in a supposedly haunted Louisiana plantation in Taylor Ri’chard’s found-footage horror film.

The central characters in Taylor Ri’chard’s found-footage horror film are six senior-year university film students in danger of failing their course. As a last-ditch effort, they decide to spend the night in a notorious and supposedly haunted Louisiana plantation to record any spooky occurrences. Judging by what we see in The Final Project, they all deserved to flunk.

Found-footage has proved both a blessing and a curse for the horror film genre. It’s produced such genuinely revelatory and creepy films as The Blair Witch Project and the first Paranormal Activity. But it’s also resulted in endless inferior rip-offs, including this one, which borrows so blatantly from the aforementioned films and countless others that it belies the idea of imitation being the sincerest form of flattery. 

The Bottom Line

We’d all be better off if the footage had been lost.

RELEASE DATE Mar 04, 2016

This marks the debut effort of the Southern-born director, who, like so many predecessors, has taken advantage of the opportunities offered by cheap cameras to make a Mickey and Judy-style movie. It’s enough to make one long for the days of the studio system, which had its drawbacks but at least produced a consistent level of technical quality.

Here, in the interests of verisimilitude, we’re subjected to 80 minutes of shaky, blurry, and at times nearly unwatchable video footage accompanied by barely discernible sound. But that’s not even the worst of it. Apparently under the impression that the longer the build-up the better, the director and  co-screenwriter Zack Davis don’t even attempt to generate any real scares until well past the halfway point, instead subjecting us to endless trivial banter, much of it sexually charged, among the half-dozen students whose characters hardly even register.

Once they do get into the spooky plantation and get outfitted with GoPro head-cams, they each meet an unfortunate fate that remains as mysterious to us as it does to them since we’re not shown anything meaningful. This film isn’t so much a tease as it is practically a bait-and-switch.

Distributor: CAVU Pictures
Production: 3rd Fathom Entertainment
Cast: Teal Haddock, Arin Jones, Leonardo Santaiti, Even McLean, Sergio Suave, Amber Erwin
-producer: Taylor Ri’chard
Screenwriters: Taylor Ri’chard, Zach Davis
Executive producers: Bobby Badon, Celeste Hearn, Taylor Ri’chard, Shawn Taylor, Melissa Lavergne, Shirley Landry, Guilherme Ramos, Robert McKeithen, Blake Smith, Maurice Prince
Director of photography: Leonardo Santaiti
Editor: Richard Robinson
Casting: Nick Conti

Not rated, 80 minutes