THE DEATH OF APRIL – found footage review

I say it all the time but man alive do I love it when filmmakers tackle a style of found footage and keep to it. I love when they take that level of seriousness in hand and see it through. 

Much of the time this happens you end up seeing a more compelling film. 

Not necessarily a better one but it’s more compelling to be sure. 

Such is the case with THE DEATH OF APRIL, a film that sets itself in the similar style of those films aiming to present themselves as a faux documentary. In this case it is more traditional, with unseen interviewers interviewing family and friends of a young woman and interspersing it with footage she recorded on her computer and also with interviews with an officer. 

There is music, ambient music, in some interviews, that sets a tone in a very subtle and effective way. 

This is a smartly crafted film, and I appreciate it. 

THE DEATH OF APRIL is the story of a popular and charismatic young woman who we suspect something may have happened to. On graduating she is drawn to the opposite side of the country to start a new life and find herself. Her family doesn’t approve of her choice, but she immediately falls in love with her new life as a teacher in a new town. Not long after she moves she begins to feel as if there is something strange going on in her apartment. Something feels ‘off’. She had been recording herself doing little vlogs to give her family updates on her life and she uses this as a way to chronicle the occurrences in her apartment. Mysterious sounds, eerie feelings, things moving on their own are all part of her experiences, though no one believes her when she tells them. Even her brother and boyfriend, who witness these things happening, tell her she is imagining it. Things escalate until the young woman starts to lose touch with reality and begins to change. She learns that there was a young woman who had lived in her apartment before her and who had been brutally murdered. Is this who is haunting her? What could she want? And truly, what will make her stop?

The film is handled very well, with effective acting – the lead gets pushed to the limits of her abilities but she manages well enough – and a very effective story. Things unfold slowly, which could irk some, but it feels good that there is neither a rush for some grand resolution nor a need to have overt escalation that pushes credulity. The most fascinating aspect of the film, the part that is actually much more effective than the haunting itself, is the way it shines a light on how the young woman at the center of it all was never really allowed to be herself. She is consistently told she is wrong, and later that she is either making up the haunting or is seeing things. No one believes her. Even when she has proof. 

Similar to how LAKE MUNGO is more about how we process loss than it is about ghosts, this too is a film about how others see us through their own lens and not how we necessarily are. 

There are a lot of questions in the film and it presses against how much we’re willing to accept. I liked that aspect quite a bit but it is frustrating that there are more questions here than answers. 

It was the intention, but it could turn some people off. 

This is a film about tone, and slow burn and it nails those. The portrayal of the documentary footage is also very well done and believable. As much as these ever are, really. 

The movie is perhaps TOO subtle, leaving more up to our interpretation and insinuation than to actuality. The ending also feels a little sudden and forced.
The weakest part of the film is the inclusion of a boyfriend that we hear about but don’t get much depth to. It works, don’t get me wrong, and it was a narrative choice, I just wonder if we couldn’t have had a scene earlier on that introduces him via the narrative device, like he has to get used to being filmed or something. 

It’s a good little film and I enjoyed it. 

It’s not flashy. 

It’s not showy. 

It’s solid though and creepy and well worth a look. 

3.25 out of 5


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