The Final Project (2016)

Oh look, it’s another found footage horror movie! Along with glossy Hollywood remakes, jittery found footage films have been the whipping boys of horror fans for years — justifiably so, given the dearth of originality in the countless Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity retreads over the past decade. (Although, to be fair, there have been plenty of terrible non-found footage fright flicks over the same time period.)

If nothing else, The Final Project stands out from the pungent pack by featuring a sizable number of black characters. That’s because the obligatory haunted locale being explored by the obligatory team of obligatory investigators (in this case, college students working on a film project) is an old abandoned plantation in rural Louisiana. As such, we have superstitious black voodoo-y locals warning the group not to set foot in the building, which it turns out is haunted by shitty special effects and flaccid jump scares.

As is typical of this ilk of film (at least, the worst ones), the first half hour is taken up by torturous ad libby dialogue designed to establish the “realism” of said footage — in this instance, extended road trip scenes full of locker room banter and love triangle bickering that makes Real Housewives seem level-headed.

Amongst the group of seven are three black folks: Genevieve (Arin Jones), her boyfriend Gavin (the ridiculously named Sergio Suave) and a guy named Charles who’s behind the camera for the entire movie, so we never really see him (Note to Charles: get a new agent.). Despite everyone’s uneasiness about staying in a haunted house at night, they all seem rather casual about just walking off by themselves — including Genevieve, who vanishes halfway through the film, leaving the others to walk around searching for her ad nauseam; not exactly the most scintillating sequences in cinematic history.

*SPOILER ALERT* (Granted, the poster kind of gives it away.)
Genevieve’s presumed offscreen demise seemed to be a pretty ignoble death as far as horror movies go, but lo and behold, she turns up near the end possessed by a ghost whose back story is basically “somebody died in the house.” By the time dawn breaks, the entity has killed everyone else, leaving Genevieve as the lone survivor.

The final scene has her declaring her innocence to suspicious police officers in an interrogation room at the local precinct, capping her statement off with a supernatural yell that distorts her voice and face, an indication that she’s still possessed. Believe it or not, the cops don’t shoot her on the spot, and the film ends with a statement that Genevieve has not been seen since.

I don’t know if you can call her a “final girl,” since she’s not exactly heroic, but in the slim pickings of black horror characters, that’s close enough. Otherwise, the movie itself is par for the course of lame found footage horror, a lukewarm rehash whose poor video quality and flat, erratic characters pale in comparison to how painfully unscary it is.

A scene from the horror movie The Final Project
“Do they sell men’s clothes where you bought that jacket?”
A scene from the horror movie The Final Project
“Awwww…babies have the cutest corpses.”
A scene from the horror movie The Final Project
Arbor Day the 13th
A scene from the horror movie The Final Project
“Today at 5: What is this yellow tape for, and how did it get here?”
A scene from the horror movie The Final Project
And in this corner, a stick.
A scene from the horror movie The Final Project
Tammy’s boyfriend had erased Scandal for the last time.
A scene from the horror movie The Final Project
There’s nothing funny about Hulk glaucoma.

What do you think?