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The Gracefield Incident, A Tale of 2 Found Footage Trailers

The Gracefield Incident (2015) - Found Footage Films Movie Poster (Found Footage Horror)Found Footage Critic recently posted the second official trailer for an alien themed found footage film we’ve been hearing about for a couple years now, The Gracefield Incident, directed by Mathieu Ratthe.

Ratthe’s a Canadian filmmaker and has directed a handful of very interesting shorts, including one based on a scene from Stephen King’s The Talisman. (According to the notes under Ratthe’s clip (on YouTube), he’s trying to get that director’s gig from whomever holds the rights.) It looks like The Gracefield Incident is his first foray into found footage.

The most recent trailer to The Gracefield Incident is promising — it’s set up as an alien invasion film, starting with a War of the Worlds-like meteorite landing, leading to various science-fiction and paranormal imagery we are used to in such scenarios, such as car lights blinking, cornfields and crop circles, the electricity going off, and other telekinetic chaos in the house where our 20-something protagonists are trapped.It’s all caught in found footage-style format, takes place mostly at night, and it’s in the woods. It includes images of some of our cast members screaming among chaos, or levitating up into the air.The.Gracefield.Incident.(2015)-fanart08

The trailer, which was posted in February 2015, lists the film in the title as a 2015 production. There was a previous trailer issued almost a year earlier for The Gracefield Incident, which (optimistically) listed it as 2014. This isn’t so rare, especially for small independent films that have to work their way through sometimes years-long post-production. The Facebook page for the film references a 3-year process (so far). The IMDB page has been updated and now lists 2016.

It’s all caught in found footage-style format, takes place mostly at night, and it’s in the woods. It includes images of some of our cast members screaming among chaos, or levitating up into the air.

What’s interesting is how radically the new trailer differs from the original. The original was posted in May 2014 and begins with an official-looking crawl:

On August 16, 2013, the Supreme Court mandated the CIA to declassify files that had been kept secret for the past 75 years. Visual records of documented paranormal events were released to the public. The following incident took place in Gracefield, Quebec.”

The Gracefield In

This is a well-used excuse by this time to explain how and why the found footage we’re about to see came to light, as rough, unedited, and previously suppressed (and therefore authentic) evidence. The note ties in nicely to a paranoia about the government’s motives and evokes Roswell and (if sloppily) the Freedom of Information Act (although the case noted is made up).

The trailer then, rather than going expected the alien invasion route, establishes the reason for the found footage, a top-secret experimental project by which a man is given a prosthetic eye to record everything he sees. We saw this in V/H/S 2(2013) in Adam Wingard’s segment “Phase 1 Clinical Trials” and it probably predates The Gracefield Incident‘s development. Judging by the fact this element is completely absent from the second trailer, I imagine Ratthe decided to avoid the possibly unflattering comparison all together.The.Gracefield.Incident.(2015)-fanart05

The first trailer, having set up underused approach of a prosthetic eye to found footage, proceeds on a more rudimentary template, with the filming capturing the protagonists having a dinner party (shades of Cloverfield) at their cabin in the woods before that meteorite slices through the sky, a full minute into the 2-and-a-half minute trailer.

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The trailer establishes the reason for the found footage, a top-secret experimental project by which a man is given a prosthetic eye to record everything he sees.

Much of the footage here, with running through the dark and objects flying around, was reused in the second trailer (although no crop circles here). But the first trailer ends with one of our cast members looking past the camera as a long, creepy alien hand emerges from the dark, about to grab his shoulder. This trailer shows you exactly what this film is about.

And it’s front-loaded with the prosthetic eye concept, possibly trying to capture an already jaded found footage audience. The found footage alien invasion film of course has a long legacy, from Invasion (2005) to Cloverfield (2008) to Alien Abduction (2014) to Area 51 (2015).The course correction of the second trailer a year later has no suggestion of the government files “finally” released nor explains the “reason” for the footage, that top-secret eye implant. Presumably because the camera is an eye and also the viewfinder, it allows for one of the pet peeves of the founder of this site, the recording of the red “REC” indicator in the frame. (Also, in a perhaps unintended “Easter egg” in the trailers, because the timecode is visible in the lower right-hand frame of some of the shots, you can put them in order of their occurrence in the film and get a sense of the narrative. It looks to take place on the day of October 27th and through the night into the 28th.)The.Gracefield.Incident.(2015)-fanart12

Nor does the trailer end with that striking shot of the alien hand.

The second trailer is also much shorter, a little over a minute long. Perhaps that all plot stuff seems superfluous at this point in the cycle or to the marketers and all they want us to know is that there is woods, chaos, objects flying telekinetically around the kitchen and a Facebook page.The Gracefield Incident (2015) - Found Footage Film Movie Fanart (Found Footage Horror)

We have out-reached to the filmmakers on Facebook to try to get insight into their strategy and will report back when we hear from them. In any event, The Gracefield Incident looks very intriguing. It looks to be a potentially smart melding of science-fiction, conspiracy and paranormal/ young-adults-in-distress narrative elements. We hope it lives up to its promise, and if Matthew Ratthe’s previous shorts are an indication, it will be worth the wait.The.Gracefield.Incident.(2015)-fanart11

Additional Resources

Roger Leatherwood worked on the lower rungs of Hollywood for 20 years as before returning to the real world. His feature "USHER" won numerous awards on the independent film festival circuit, and his writing has appeared in Bright Lights Film Journal, EatDrinkFilms, Nefarious Ballerina, European Trash Cinema and others. He blogs about film and cultural memory at mondo-cine.blogspot.com.

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