It’s rare to come across something in film that’s fresh. Even though cinema is one of the youngest of the arts; genres, techniques and the seven basic story plots are generally a rehash of something done before when it comes to filmmaking. The real question is, how will this story be told differently using all the elements that can be combined to make a movie? So when you see something from a fresh angle, you know it. For me, watching Butterfly Kisses, was a shock to my cinematic to senses and wow, did that shock feel good!
Billed as a documentary/horror film, filmmaker Gavin York (himself) discovers a box of video tapes from two students who mysteriously disappeared while trying to film a project on local horror legend, Peeping Tom. Gavin enlists the help of a third party camera crew to help him truthfully tell the story of what he found after editing the students’, Sophia and Feldman (actors names are withheld at the moment by design), film together.
We slowly see parts of the film that the students worked on as we watch Gavin work meticulously to have the footage he believes to be real fact-checked. Whether it’s experts corroborating things within the film, screening groups, or man on the street interviews, everything is questioned from multiple people at every angle. By the time the real magic of the film takes its course, you’re absolutely locked into its world and under the spell of director Erik Kristopher Myers.
Butterfly Kisses’ key is that it leads you on a mental trip that causes you to question everything while leaving you with one driving question: who and what can you trust in this film? The film has the perfect blend of suspense, horror, comedy and incredible pacing as it delves between different times, aspect ratios and color palettes. Even the use of handheld versus tripod is done with precise measure. The fact that no known actors are in the film equally builds on the films authenticity.
You can’t put a film like this into words because it’s a cinematic experience! If I had to, I’d say the experience is equivalent to the dream within a dream strategy in Inception. With each layer you're “kicked” into, it takes a second to realize the game has changed, and once you finally start to see where the director is going it's too late. When a conscientiously crafted film doesn’t insult its’ audience’s intelligence and asks you to keep up, you know you’re in for a fun ride. That’s what makes Butterfly Kisses a game changer for the found footage genre! It’s the embodiment of why they created a term like a “must-see” film!