The Movie Waffler Screamfest LA 2022 Review - 8 FOUND DEAD | The Movie Waffler

Screamfest LA 2022 Review - 8 FOUND DEAD

8 Found Dead review
A gathering at a rental property takes a dark turn.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Travis Greene

Starring: Alisha Soper, William Gabriel Grier, Aly Trasher, Eddy Acosta, Tim Simek, Roseanna Limeres, Jenny Tran, Laura Buckles, Patrick Joseph Rieger

8 Found Dead poster

The modern phenomenon of Air BnB style short term rentals has given rise to a new sub-genre of horror in which protagonists find themselves endangered after renting a seemingly idyllic home for a weekend – see the likes of Barbarian, The Rental, Superhost etc. A common plot device in such movies sees the rental being apparently double-booked, leading to tension between two different parties.

8 Found Dead review

That's the template director Travis Greene has adopted for his feature debut 8 Found Dead. What marks his film from the crowded market is the non-linear storytelling he employs. Three different timelines are woven together to keep us on our toes, but you can't help but wonder if this device is simply polishing a movie that's otherwise less than the sum of its parts.

After a prologue in which property host Jessie (Jenny Tran) arrives to clean up after her most recent guests at the secluded desert home she rents out and finds an unwanted surprise, we're introduced to the property's next set of renters. Sam (Alisha Soper) is an online influencer who has booked the house to break the news that she's been diagnosed with Cancer to her boyfriend Dwayne (William Gabriel Grier) and their friends Carrie (Aly Trasher) and Ricky (Eddy Acosta).

8 Found Dead review

When Sam and Dwayne arrive at the property they're surprised to find it currently occupied by an elderly couple – the hippyish Richard (Tim Simek) and Liz (Roseanna Limeres) – who claim to have booked the home themselves. There's some messy explanation about why neither couple can produce confirmation of their booking due to a lack of wifi, after which a standoff begins as both couples refuse to give way. We then cut to Carrie and Ricky arriving some time later to be similarly greeted by Richard and Liz, who again claim to have booked the property. Curiously, they deny having ever seen Sam and Dwayne. Once again a standoff ensues. In a third timeline we follow married but about to be divorced cops Blake (Laura Buckles) and Bobby (Patrick Joseph Rieger) as they are called to a disturbance at the same property.

We've seen a lot of indie horror movies recently that pit male and female characters against one another in a battle of the sexes. 8 Found Dead does something similar but here it's a generational battle. While the two millennial couples are uptight and concerned with how they're perceived, the boomer antagonists have no filter, with Liz openly flirting with the men while Richard delights in winding up the younger folk with his politically incorrect views, knowing his advanced age means the younger men aren't going to punch his lights out. 8 Found Dead is most compelling in its middle section when it settles down into this awkward conflict, with Limeres and Simek genuinely unsettling in their roles.

8 Found Dead review

It's when the violence kicks in later that things get messy. The physical conflict simply isn't as interesting as the psychological one that initially hooked us, plus the non-linear timeline means we already know the fates of certain characters. The final act leads us to ask some awkward logistical questions, such as what happened to the vehicles that various characters drove to the property in question? There's also a bizarre coda that hints at a prequel, but it's so half-baked that I didn't know what I was supposed to make of it. Kudos to Greene and screenwriter Jonathan Buchanan for trying something different in terms of storytelling structure, but you may be left wondering if 8 Found Dead might have been more successful working within the traditional parameters of its stagey setup.

8 Found Dead
 played at Screamfest LA.

2022 movie reviews