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By Mark Bell | January 2, 2013

As an opening text card explains, the film we’re about to see “has been meticulously pieced together over a period of several months by Federal authorities.” This means we’re in for a “found footage” film, and that’s precisely what we get. In this case, friends Michael (Michael Mercer) and Chris (Christopher Flowers) are heading into the Uwharrie National Forest for a camping and fishing trip. It’s the boys’ last hurrah, as Michael will be married soon, and Chris decides he wants to record the entire trip. And I mean THE ENTIRE TRIP; the camera never seems to shut off.

Which means it captures the strange sounds in the woods, that somewhat blurry creature skulking about in the distance, the multitude of “dudes” mixed into inane conversation and the drunk trio of campers that take some time out of their revelry to go piss on Michael and Chris’s campsite. Eventually Michael and Chris find themselves being stalked by the creature they saw, and come across more than a few severed limbs and other gory presents as they attempt to escape back to their car.

Christopher Flowers and Michael Mercer’s “found footage” horror film Uwharrie goes wrong in about any and every way imaginable. For a horror flick, it’s far too jokey, nonsensical and lacking of any suspense. If it’s supposed to be a satire of “found footage” horror films, it doesn’t satire the form so much as just make a really awful example. If it’s supposed to be witty, it’s not. Interesting? Not in the least.

First off, the “found footage” technique, while it can work in more capable hands, comes off as lazy at best and irrational at worst when utilized incorrectly. You know the filmmakers know this, because they make whoever runs the camera state repeatedly that they’re only still filming to document everything for later. The first three times should be clue enough that whatever is going on does not warrant recording so much as turning the camera off and getting out of the damn woods.

Which seems ridiculously challenging for two guys who got to their campsite in less than a day and then take two days and nights to find their way back to their car. I can understand if they were wandering off trail or something, but it’s pretty obvious that they’re following a well-trodden path, complete with an easy landmark, a small river, to navigate by. So we’re supposed to believe that they’re smart enough to keep the camera rolling “just in case,” but not smart enough to get out of the woods?

And sure, you could say that maybe their fear is causing them problems, but they’re cracking jokes and dropping pop culture references at practically all times. For guys who’ve come across severed limbs, or suffered one themselves, there’d likely be more screaming and running and less joking with an occasional sprint. And when things really go bad, you’d think they’d have even more incentive to get out of the woods but, no, at every opportunity, they stick around… and keep filming. Even the f*****g Sasquatch carries the camera at one point.

Uwharrie is a horrible film. It gets the star rating it does because a couple pop culture references made me chuckle and other moments made me laugh in their unintentional comedy, but otherwise the 47 minutes watching this film felt like an eternity. In the future, I hope if the filmmakers decide to utilize a genre’s aesthetic, that they focus on the good aspects of the genre, and not the bad. For example, The Blair Witch Project worked, when it did, because you believed the characters’ emotional responses and the film did most of its spooky work with things you never saw. Uwharrie not only shows too much, it says too much.

This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.

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