Every so often amongst the plethora of new found footage films, we come across a mashup of two unlikely sub-genres. The upcoming found footage film Boots on the Ground, by director Louis Melville, is one such example, mixing traditional war footage with the supernatural.
This leads us to an all-important question, is Boots on the Ground a fictional film or an actual account of historic events? An unnamed source in the UK recently provided Found Footage Critic with an exclusive first look at a short clip of recovered footage allegedly filmed by five British soldiers on the front line of the Afghan War, circa 2014.
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Is this actual war footage or just a movie trailer? We’ll leave this for our readers to decide. In the meantime, we are left to speculate until the full footage is released in 2018!
Exclusive First Look: Boots on the Ground Movie Trailer
As described by the Boots on the Ground production team, “[the film] is shot entirely by its actors wearing 4k head cameras, replicating the video technology used by modern combat troops to record real-time action footage. The film mirrors the style of 1st person shooter video games and combat documentary footage seen in TV shows such as the BBC series Our War.”
Based on the trailer, the film appears to embody elements that fall in the same vein as the recent war-based found footage film Pandemic (2016), the eerie atmosphere of The Tunnel (2011), and supernatural Jeruzalem (2015)—creating the potential for a truly creepy horror film.
Hell in a Handbasket
As for the plot, director Louis Melville describes Boots on the Ground as “a metaphor for the reasons the horror of war exists since time immemorial. Wars have been fought over land, money, and the keeping control of them through violence and manipulation of the populace by playing on falsely created kinship allegiances.”
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Official Synopsis: Hindu Kush, Afghanistan October 2014. War ends at midnight, all five British soldiers have to do is stay alive till then. After surviving a firefight the five British soldiers try to find a safe haven to sit out the rest of last night of the Afghan war. Trekking through woodland they come across a large imposing British fort dating back to the first British-Afghan war of the early 19th century. On nearing the entrance to the fort they see other British soldiers entering. With great relief, they also enter the fort but find it eerily unoccupied. Where have the other British troops gone, did they really see them?
As the night unfolds and their mission is finally explained to them, they find themselves engulfed in a labyrinthine nightmare of seemingly un-combatable forces from another realm. Time itself seems to move in inexplicable ways to the point where they start to question their own reality. Who will stay alive till midnight, will any?
Found Footage Approach: Tug of War Between Reality and Cinema
At Found Footage Critic, we applaud directors who attempt to create films that closely replicate what could pass as actual found footage. After all, it’s the stark realism of well-made found footage films that continually draws fans of the genre back for more. When asked why Boots on the Ground was shot as found footage, Director Louis Melville said, “I was looking for was a way to film that gave the audience a different and more immersive audience experience.” He went on to describe some of the challenges of having the cast perform all of the principal cinematography, “I was asking the actors to do was not only to bring the scripted characters to life but remember to film each other while staying focused on their own performances.”
The video cameras used to film Boots on the Ground are 4K GoPro cameras that were modified to accommodate different lenses and film in night vision. Adding to the perceived realism of the film, the guns used in the film were custom created to display a muzzle flash when fired, avoiding the need to add CGI effects during post-production. As described by Director Louis Melville, “the actors seeing the muzzle flash helped them be in the moment during combat scenes, the second benefit was the time and money saved in post not putting in fake muzzle flashes.”
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In many found footage films covered by Found Footage Critic, the filming reason often comes into question. Boots on the Ground addresses this potential challenge by having the soldiers record everything automatically record to their head-mounted cameras. Found footage films that take this approach are rarely faced with the question as to why the protagonists continue filming even in the face of danger.
We eagerly await the opportunity to see Boots on the Ground, but moviegoers will have to excercise patience as the release date is set for 2018.