Director: Dom Rotheroe
Stars: Bradley Cole, Brittany Ashworth, Angela Forrest
The Seventh Continent in Yorkshire
The found footage genre gets quite a lot of stick. Admittedly it does feel like a new found footage horror film is churned out every week and most of them feel like the same film. Some are quite brilliant though. REC, is probably the finest example the sub-genre has to offer and the criminally under seen Noroi: The Curse is probably the scariest film I have ever sat through. I had never heard of Exhibit A until I stumbled across it on a list which featured the scariest found footage movie moments. Because I’m a twisted individual, the idea of a family crumbling in front of their own camcorder appealed to me and so I sought it out immediately.
I made a point of reading very little about it because it clearly had a shocking ending which I didn’t want spoilt. I’d urge everyone else to do the same, however if you do know the ending outcome, don’t worry because it’s still worth the watch. It’s a wonderful idea for a found footage film. There are no Spanish zombies, or Blair witches and there are no Norwegian trolls either. It’s all about a regular nuclear family, probably not dissimilar to yours or someone you know and that’s where the disturbing horror really lies.
The film has obviously (and probably literally) been made on a shoestring, but it’s all the more authentic for it. Exhibit A could’ve easily turned into an embarrassing PSHCE film if it felt false, but thankfully it doesn’t. It helps that the performances are so good, especially by the Dad who doesn’t have an easy role to play at all. The Mum sometimes felt a little wooden, but towards the end she crucially pulls out a powerful and authentic performance.
The trouble with most found footage films is that they don’t actually feel like they’ve been found. Diary of the Dead, for example uses multiple cameras and even has music playing over some scenes! Exhibit A is by far the most ‘real’ found footage film I’ve seen. They’ve obviously shot on an actual cheap camcorder and used a lot of improvisation. You buy into the story and actually begin to feel like you know the characters, thus you care about what happens to them.
Exhibit A is about a man slowly cracking under financial pressures. It starts out comically with lots of funny and warm family moments. I also liked how we got to uncover lots of little things about Judith, the daughter who does the majority of the filming. In the end it becomes a film about secrets and how every family has them. There’s a great moment mid-way through where the film starts to take an uneasy turn into psychological horror. What begins as the Dad trying to humorously stage a video for You’ve Been Framed becomes a desperate act of anger, verging on insanity.
It’s a very slow film to get going, with a lot of unnecessary scenes which slow the film down, however this does add to the authenticity of it all. It’s the final half hour where things take a disturbing turn and it becomes gripping to watch. The final five minutes are an incredibly harrowing watch. It has imagery that will sear its way into your brain and stay there for a long time.
Exhibit A is a great no budget horror film. It basically tells the same disturbing tale as Michael Haneke’s striking debut, The Seventh Continent. Whilst, Exhibit A isn’t as mind-numbingly depressing as The Seventh Continent, it is almost as effect. The acting is great and features some very powerful scenes which will stay with you. It may be a little slow to begin, but it’s well worth sticking with as you feel immersed in the life of this family. It’s a remarkable little film which deserves way more attention than it has received.