I love it when I sit down with a beer on a Saturday night and stumble upon a Found Footage film I knew nothing about – makes the whole week feel worthwhile 🙂
Series 7: The Contenders is a 2001 release that I was blissfully unaware of until about 10 o’ clock last night. I thought I’d seen everything from this period but this one well and truly slid under the radar.
If I’m honest – I wasn’t really expecting much, especially with a title as poor as that and a pretty shitty DVD cover.
So I did a quick IMDb check first to get some sort of angle on how I would be spending the next 70 minutes of my life – it scored a 6.6.
Now, I know what you’re thinking – 6.6 ain’t exactly top of the class!
But IMDb is a sad movie community that seems to absolutely HATE Found Footage movies. In many instances I’ve witnessed quite impressive efforts get no more than 3 or 4 on the chart!
So I knew I had a chance with this hidden little gem…
The movie is presented as an actual reality show from the US in a death-as-entertainment format. Citizens are picked by random to take part in a rather twisted game of cat and mouse.
Once picked they are given a couple of guns and informed about the other contestant’s identities. They then must hunt each other down until only one remains – the winner of course!
The sort of ‘hero’ figure of this film is a pregnant young lady named Dawn ( played by the excellent Brooke Smith! ). Not only is she heavily pregnant – one of the contestants she is up against is a man she is still in love with ( Jeffrey ).
The film basically follows the confrontations, close calls, double-crosses, and ultimately, dead bodies, as the contestants finish each other off.
This film was made in 2001 but to be perfectly honest it shows no signs of being nearly 15 years old. The first scene with Dawn is something I will never really forget – Found Footage at it’s very best!
The reality show is put together in a format that reminded me somewhat of Cops or that Cheaters program. Each of the contestants is followed around by their own personal cameraman so we get to witness all the ups and downs of each character’s journey.
It’s an extremely clever and dark piece of filmmaking that draws in on America’s gun culture and general lack of patience – it’s quite an eye opener at times!
This really was an enjoyable 70 minutes of Found Footage legacy – unique, uncompromising and dark.
The film cleverly makes use of video profiles and on-camera interviews of the contestants to draw us in on an emotional level. As well as that they’ve managed to draft in six pretty decent actors to play each of the characters.
The contrived romantic involvement and twisted past between Dawn and Jeffrey really gives the film an added dimension. Without it, I feel the story would of been a little too black and white, too desperate.
I also liked the character of Lindsay, a teenage student that seems to take to the killing spree like a duck to water. We also get treated to scenes involving her slightly disturbed parents – constantly motivating her before she goes in for each attempted kill.
Much like The Blair Witch Project, this film has stood the test of time and has no trouble fitting in with more modern Found Footage efforts.
It’s dark, witty and ultimately disturbing – everything you’d want in a Saturday night Found Footage showing.
Definitely one for your hit list – well worth watching!