Butterfly Kisses Review

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Director: Erik Kristopher Myers

Writer: Erik Kristopher Myers

Starring: Rachel Armiger, Reed DeLisle, Matt Lake

Synopsis: Found footage and urban legend come together in chilling fashion in this unsettling film, shot on location in Ellicott City, Maryland. Gavin York, a wedding videographer sorting through used tapes, uncovers hours of footage shot by two student filmmakers obsessed with an apocryphal figure known as Peeping Tom. Followed by a documentary film crew, Gavin pursues the truth of the students’ fate, while also seeking fame and fortune by editing their “”found footage”“ into a film of his own. What he discovers instead is doubt and ridicule from all who view it, and allegations of a hoax designed to launch Gavin’s filmmaking career. As his obsession grows, Gavin leads the documentary film crew down the same dangerous path taken by the student filmmakers eleven years prior, all while a terrifying urban legend lies in wait.

Well, if you’ve read the synopsis, you may have already cringed upon seeing the first two words: “found footage.”  That’s with good reason. Sometimes it is mind-boggling just how many of these films actually got approval to be made. I assure you, though, that Butterfly Kisses transcends all of the garbage that makes up about 95% of the found footage style, and should sit at the top with other heavy contenders such as the first Paranormal Activity.

Gavin York plays himself: an aspiring film maker whose career has fizzled to the point of mainly recording weddings. He is behind on bills and his married life leaves a lot to be desired. His in-laws find a box of tapes hidden underneath a ventilation shaft in their basement. How they got there, no one knows (I did say “found footage”, didn’t I?). Gavin begins watching the tapes, thus entering Sophia Crane, a headstrong twenty-something portrayed by the lovely and talented Rachel Armiger.

Sophia is putting together a documentary about an urban legend known as “Peeping Tom”, centering around the Ilchester tunnel in Maryland. This is actually a true urban legend surrounding the community the tunnel is located in. If someone stares into the tunnel beginning at midnight, unblinking, for an entire hour, they will see Peeping Tom at the far end of the tunnel. Unfortunately, having the ability to keep one’s eyes open for an hour without blinking comes with great misfortune (outside of, you know, blindness). Once Peeping Tom has been seen by those brave enough to accept the challenge, he will reappear every time they blink, only slightly closer each time.

As Gavin views more and more of the tapes, he becomes engrossed in the idea of finishing the documentary that Sophia began. Seeing as most people can’t keep their eyes open for an hour (proven in the movie by the winner of a staring contest), Sophia’s cameraman, Feldman, comes to the idea of leaving the camera recording for an hour as the camera can’t blink. This idea proves unfortunately fruitful, as reviewing the footage shows, after an hour, a lone black figure rise up from the ground.

Armed with this astonishing footage, Sophia and Feldman show it to their film professor, who quickly denounces it as fake. Initially crushed, their hopes are brought back to life as Feldman begins noticed Peeping Tom in the far background of any new footage he records, seemingly closer each time. Feldman realizes that every time the camera begins recording, or blinks, Peeping Tom is there. This is when Feldman begins acting very odd.

All the while, Gavin is watching these tapes, and beginning to realize that there might be some truth to the urban legend. He enlists the help of another documentarian, played by writer/director Erik Kristopher Myers himself. As the footage he is watching begins to spiral more and more out of control, so does his personal life. He is deemed a fraud and ridiculed in very public settings. Additionally, his home life and his relationship with his wife and son begins to deteriorate. All the while Gavin is being drawn further into the legend of the Peeping Tom.

Without giving away too much more, I have to give this movie the praise it deserves. Working with a minimal cast and needing hardly any special effects, Butterfly Kisses is a highly effective scary movie. If you’re looking for over-the-top jump scares or gore, this movie is not for you – and to be honest, doesn’t have any need for anything to be overdone. If you’re looking for a well written story being fleshed out by a small handful of talented actors, this movie comes highly recommended from Horror Nerd Online.

The chemistry between Sophia and Feldman as two college students trying to make their mark on the world is highly believable. Gavin York, who plays himself, deserves immense credit. Watching him dwindle from a very jovial and outgoing person to a shell of what he was, particularly regarding his wife and son, is saddening, but gives the story more of a human feel than if it were simply, “Hey I found some tapes and they’re pretty fucking scary.” Even the exasperation of  Erik Kristopher Myers dealing with Gavin through out the movie gave him more of a human quality than that of just an actor.

Overall, Butterfly Kisses is a home run in my book. As each character gets pulled into the world of Peeping Tom, the stories within the story become stronger and more captivating. I would be remiss, though, if I didn’t bring up the one scene that actually made me laugh and laugh very hard at that. While Feldman is experimenting with his theory that the camera is blinking with each recording, Peeping Tom is getting closer and closer. In one instance, Peeping Tom raises his hand and waves. I can’t say why but this one shot absolutely killed me. I had to pause the movie because I was laughing so hard.

That being said, I look forward to seeing more from Erik Kristopher Myers as a writer, director and even as an actor. I certainly also hope to see Gavin York, Reed DeLisle (Feldman) and especially Rachel Armiger in the future.

Rating: 9/10




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