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Review: Despite novel perspective, the found-footage horror of ‘The Gracefield Incident’ delivers nothing new

Mathieu Ratthe in the film "The Gracefield Incident."
(Momentum Pictures)

Low-budget horror filmmakers have seemingly found every possible way to construct a “found footage” movie, but with “The Gracefield Incident,” writer-director Mathieu Ratthe tries something unusual: portraying a character who has a prosthetic eye with a tiny camera inside. Ratthe stars as a tech wiz named Matthew Donovan, who takes a vacation in the wilderness with his wife, Jessica, and friends, intending to record the fun with his iris-cam.

Inevitably, trouble ensues. A meteorite lands near the party’s luxe mountain cabin, and when Matt and his friends investigate, strange things begin happening: the landscape turns treacherous, the tourists’ behavior becomes more erratic, and some of them suddenly disappear, leaving a pile of clothes behind.

“The Gracefield Incident” suggests multiple paranormal explanations for what’s happening, from shadowy government operations to Bigfoot, before its big third-act reveal. To his credit, Ratthe keeps reinforcing the emotional underpinnings, which involve Matt and Jess trying to recover from a car accident that cost them their unborn child.

But while Ratthe comes up with novel ways to shoot first-person perspectives, he never justifies the gimmick. “The Gracefield Incident” sports some impressive special effects in key scenes, but remains yet another found-footage thriller where the dialogue feels phony, the nonscary action is tedious and the images are artless. The angle may be different, but we’ve seen this before.

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‘The Gracefield Incident’

Rating: PG-13, for sci-fi action/terror, accident images, language and some suggestive material

Running time: 1 hour, 29 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills

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