Project Eerie (2023) Review
Project Eerie, the new film from Ricky Umberger the maker of The Fear Footage and its sequels The Fear Footage 2: Curse of the Tape and The Fear Footage: 3AM opens, like many found footage films, with a brief message telling us where the footage we’re about to see came from. In this case, what we are about to see was originally livestreamed on social media. And that viewer discretion is advised.
What we see does look like a typical livestream as a couple of bored idiots, Jesse (Braydan Wade) and his brother Jacob (Jacob) drive around smashing pumpkins and getting high before having the brilliant idea to sneak into an abandoned government facility.
Once inside, security seems to be non-existent, they find classified documents relating to Project Eerie just laying out in the open, as if somebody wanted the brothers to find them. They make off with a DVD, and head home to watch it. We, of course, get to watch along with them.
First up, “Milsdag Maryland. 9/3/1994” follows Trevor Mullins (Ricky Umberger) and his young daughter on a trip to a campsite that seems strangely abandoned except for a very odd park ranger, and a dead woman on the beach.
This segment feels like something from the original Fear Footage film. It’s eerie, unsettling and downright creepy while not explaining much of anything. It’s strong on atmosphere and odd visuals, especially after night falls.
Next up “Claymark West Virginia, 4/16/2004” starts with a pair of long haired country boys realizing they have footage of a man (Austin Greene, The Mutated Hiker, The Monster) wanted for the deaths of his wife and child. They decide to track him down for the reward and get a video they can sell to the media as well. They capture their quarry, but realize too late there’s more to the story than they could have imagined.
This segment turns into a call back to cult films like Night of the Blood Beast, The Quatermass Experiment, The Incredible Melting Man and the early found footage film The McPherson Tape with its bizarre plot and some bloody effects. Since we know the ISS didn’t have a catastrophic failure in 2004, the segment has an odd, alternate reality vibe to it, unless we’re supposed to believe they’ve been hiding the fact and faking its existence for nearly twenty years.
Project Eerie’s third segment “Birch Village, Pennsylvania, 1/25/2014” involves a pair of psychic investigators looking into a haunted house in Amish Country. It starts out like a generic ghost hunter tale and makes good use of the idea of a house seemingly designed by Escher before taking a turn into American folk horror.
This segment returns Project Eerie’s stories to the supernatural and delivers a several creepy images and jump scares in the process.
The wraparound concludes with an appearance from government agents and the Men in Black to end everything on a conspiracy fuelled note. Along with some title cards that follow it, the ending gives the feeling that this is the start of a second trilogy. Although, judging by the second segment, it may be a bit more wide-ranging in scope than the Fear Footage films.
Overall, Project Eerie lives up to its name and delivers another collection of short scares from writer/director Umberger. It’ll be interesting to see if future volumes in the franchise take advantage of the wider range of subjects and locations this framework offers. Done right, that could keep these films feeling fresh for several instalments.
Project Eerie is currently available on Amazon Prime in some countries. You can check the film’s website for announcements as other platforms are added, or to order it on Blu-ray.