It’s been a while since I covered a super low budget indie offering so I thought I’d give Gifts From Strangers a go late last night.
It’s a British film release from Dos Caballeros Films and IMDb reckoned it had a budget of no more than $30!
As you can imagine, I wasn’t really expecting that much from it but the synopsis sounded interesting enough…
Short & Sweet
Unfortunately the film’s running time ended up being a little over 45 minutes – I was expecting a lot more! This seemed to result is the film being a little ‘squashed’ in places and the promising plot therefore suffered.
But it did have some redeeming qualities and it stuck within it’s low budget boundaries quite well. The film is aware of its limits and works within them.
A social media Vblogger and his housemate receive a mysterious package sent from an online fan. They cannot figure out what this strange gift is until the housemate’s girlfriend turns up and fills them in on the package’s content.
Unfortunately I cannot go into detail about this content as I’ll hit a few spoiler alerts and the film needs them to stay interesting ( due to it’s short length! ).
Anyway, once the package is opened the inhabitants of the flat find themselves the victims of an unending series of pranks. These pranks soon start to spiral out of control…
This film managed to be effective enough without any sort of budget behind it and should be commended for that. I found it handled the plot and the atmosphere extremely well at times.
The scares were simple enough but they worked for it without even trying really. It was quite nice to come across a zero-budget film that knew what it was. The director Marcus Caballero ( who also plays a role in the film ) decided not to take any sort of lead from the Hollywood blockbusters and it worked out well for him.
This film was obviously held back by certain constraints so don’t be expecting a CGI fright fest and don’t expect the new Blair Witch!
With only 45 minutes running time, the film peaks by twenty minutes and then heads downhill at a slow pace. There’s not really much the director could do about this as he needed to cover the whole story and fit it in at the same time.
I felt the film missed a trick with the actual webcast footage – it was there for the first ten minutes or so then it took a back seat to the more typical camcorder footage shoot.
This initial webcast footage was extremely well done and felt natural and believable. The film really needed to contain more of this as it completely outshone the handheld footage.
The main actor Marcus Caballero was probably the light that shined the brightest throughout this film – I thought he was totally suited to the Found Footage genre.
The other actors were alright but at times their dialogue feels forced. The film also fails to explore the friendships and make connections with any of the characters.
In parts the indie cinematography is excellent whilst in other parts they seem to have lost the ‘footage styled’ plot a bit. I found myself wondering why the camera would be on in certain situations and this takes the realism out of film.
Overall it’s certainly worth watching if you have 45 minutes to kill ( especially if you like Found Footage ). The plot is fresh and original, the acting is not that bad overall and it manages to get quite creepy.
A decent enough low budget Found Footage flick – give it a try!