For anybody who's spent any time on a failing amateur film set, Frazier Park Recut will feel all too familiar. From the ill prepared creative masterminds (Sam Hanover and Tyler Schnabel, playing "themselves"), to the creepy, motel dwelling lead (David Lee Hess, playing "Tom Morris"), to the last minute phone call confirming it's OK to use the Air BNB cabin they're renting as the central "location", to the cheap pizza standing in for "craft services", to the self-selected wardrobes, to the bickering, to the fridge malfunctions, to the constant calls from the girlfriend, to the murder. It's all there, in tedious, hair pulling glory.
That's right - Frazier Park Recut is a found footage document of the BTS struggles of "Tyler" and "Sam" trying to make a found footage movie. But then, right in the middle, "Tom" decides he's going to make his own movie as well, and we the audience bear witness to all three being spliced together, creating a funny, frustrating, and subtly frightening portrait of two guys who don't know what the fuck they're doing, and another totally on board with his own plan that'll eventually tear them to pieces. But who the hell is splicing all this together? Part of the fun of Frazier Park Recut is that its guessing game includes deciphering whose movie you're watching whenever the aspect ratio suddenly switches, or the camera seemingly changes hands. POV dictates tone, as we slowly figure out that nobody may make it out of this shoot alive.
Hanover and Schnabel's movie (which even produced a sort of Blair Witch-style social media campaign to try and sell us on its "reality") wisely runs just over seventy minutes, delivering a trio of naturalistic performances that become more and more mannered as the picture proceeds (with Hess becoming nightmarishly omnipresent by the final "cut"). Of course, nobody's ever going to buy Frazier Park Recut as a documentary, and by the end it veers into straight up horror film territory, but there's a self-awareness to it that's super diverting. We're either watching footage from their spooky FF pseudo-slasher (which is titled Frazier Park) as its being made, watching Frazier Park itself, or watching Tom chronicle his meticulous interference with his two directors/producers/co-stars. So, unlike many other found footage works, we're never questioning why the camera is still rolling, thus rendering our suspension of disbelief that much easier.
To tell you any more about Frazier Park Recut would spoil the film's surprises, but it's an impressive little picture, and the type of movie you attend festivals to try and see. The closest comparison is probably something along the lines of Benson & Moorhead's Resolution; a movie whose limited means are obvious from the first frame, but is elevated by a collection of engaging talents, and a premise whose headiness makes up for any lack of resources. It's the kind of fiendish film that shocks and surprises you, making you want to seek out whatever the hell its creators are up to next.