Of the various popular genres of film out there, few are as confounding as horror. This is a genre where it’s incredibly easy to fall into cliché, but it’s also possible for up and coming filmmakers to really create something distinctive. So many classics of the genre, up through recent releases like The Babadook and It Follows, are tiny films that managed to connect to the right audiences. Unfortunately, The Final Project falls at the opposite end of the spectrum. It takes a potentially interesting concept and wastes it in a number of different ways.
Using found footage to construct a narrative, The Final Project follows a group of six students who are creating a documentary about a haunted plantation for a final college project. When they arrive, though, they encounter something supernatural.
Maybe The Final Project would work better if it was a short film; something under 40 minutes at most could work. I say that, because there’s very little in the film’s first half to propel the story. The basic setup is detailed, some locals who believe the plantation is haunted are featured, and…there’s a lot of traveling with these students, most of whom I was ready to see horrifically offed very shortly after they first appeared. The Final Project may be a found footage film, but that doesn’t mean the film couldn’t use some tight editing. As it stands, the first half of the film serves as padding for the runtime.
Which brings us to the second half of the film. There’s a spirit who haunts the plantation, killing trespassers. But the film also suggests that there’s more going on, with the end of the film not exactly making sense with that spirit. Or maybe it does. It’s not clear, and exploring it in writing could delve into spoiler territory. But a confusing ending for a horror film isn’t exactly what I want or expect.