Directors: Fabien Delage, Nicolas Delage, Divine, Frederic Gros, Sabrina Kerrar, Evelyne Phan, David Tillault
Writers: Fabien Delage, Deuf, Evelyne Phan, Sabou
Starring: Lola Dubus, Nicolas Lancelin, Leo Pochat
It is well known that demons, possessions and unholy incidents happen at this time of the night and the folks of Redwood Creek Films came out with the idea of making a French anthology movie structured around the topic of 3:15AM. It features 6 Found Footage segments by Freedom Films, Divine, Evelyne Phan, Nicolas Delage, and David Tillault. Paris based director Fabien Delage (Dead Crossroads, Fury of the Demon, Cold Ground) is behind the project and is also directing one segment entitled "The Grove". Horror strikes at 3:15 AM in ways never before imagined. Truth is stranger than fiction in this Euro horror anthology that opens a new dimension in sheer terror. This cutting edge horror anthology from France will curl your toes and rattle your soul. Initial Reaction C. Over the last year I’ve really been trying to broaden my horizons with found footage. For close to a decade it felt like every horror movie coming out was found footage because it was cheap, had less technical requirements and you didn’t need named actors. After a while, many people, especially in the States, thought of it more as a gimmick (like 3D) or people trying to recapture the success of The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity. It became the story structure for filmmakers who wanted to make something “easy” so they could get funding for a project they actually wanted to do. Despite my reservations in the past I’ve found some outstanding examples when people really utilize the format. Don’t worry, there is reasoning to my introduction. 3:15 is presented as the first French found footage anthology and any big horror fan will find an obvious connection to the anthology V/H/S, of someone finding a stack of tapes and then we (the audience) see what’s on these tapes. It was a great opportunity for up-and-coming horror directors and even the segment, Safe Haven in V/H/S/2 has entered many lists over the year for best found footage films. You can see that intention behind 3:15 and while I appreciate these opportunities for the next generation of filmmakers, it played into the issues that I mentioned prior. For a couple of them they feel like scripts that weren’t originally intended to be found footage but instead were altered to fit this project. It’s fine changing your idea for a different storytelling structure but these segments don’t feel like they were willing to take the time needed. An example can be found with the segment, The Woman in the Attic (#2), which doesn’t have any reason why the protagonist would document visiting her family to that extent. Also across the board is very clunky, on-the-nose, and exposition-heavy dialogue that may be attributed to the translation but most likely comes from the writing stage. I can go on about a lot from the hammy presentation of sex workers in one segment that harkens back to campy movies of the 80s (it wasn’t a creative choice), or such poor lighting that you don’t know any of what you’re watching. However, based on the low budget and up-and-comers you have to accept some things for what they are. I understand I shouldn’t put this kind of weight on a film but once the credits rolled I was left a little disappointed as French-produced horror usually provides, if anything, an interesting approach. 3:15am feels like a gimmick to make a quick buck. Too bad they’re a few years too late for it to work in their favor. J. 3:15 is a found footage anthology consisting of 6 shorts and 1 wrap-around segment. I’m not even sure wrap-around is correct for the one as it just runs from the beginning to the end and is played in between the 6 shorts. Found footage is a tricky thing and this works pretty well but there are always going to be problems for me, especially dealing with why characters are filming shit at the worst, most inopportune times which happens almost regularly in this. In one segment, a woman is escaping from being tortured or maimed or something really awful but she has the wherewithal to not only pick up the camera but also to keep filming as she makes her escape. Goddamn, that shit just doesn’t work. The wrap-around segment starts off very Blair Witch-y and then gets really Lords of Salem-y. As for the other shorts, none of them really make much sense other than the last one that deals with some YouTubers wanting to catch a sighting of Bigfoot but don’t actually get to before being killed and eaten by a bear. That one is pretty straight-forward. There’s another weirdo one involving prostitutes who are into some sort of occult group that is also sort of witch-y and contains a pretty nasty dick removal. I squirmed at that one. There is a variety to the shorts that keep things interesting and considering they run about 15-20 minutes, they keep things entertaining for the most part. Budget is extremely low and the filmmakers did the best they could with that in mind. If you were a fan of something like VHS or the sequel and don’t mind some of the cliches and found footage issues you’ll probably like this one okay too although this isn’t quite the same calibre in terms of quality. K. Normally I am a fan of anthology horror. It's an exciting opportunity for filmmakers to play with short form stories, take risks and have fun. And while I’m sure risks were taken and fun was had while making 3:15 am, the same can not be said for watching it. None of the segments have much of a story and everything is filmed with a handheld camera in POV, so everything tends to drag on and on as we wonder whether things are leading anywhere or not. The highlight is a castration scene in the middle segment “Ladies of Night” which ends up being my pick for the best segment in the film. The others tend to meander, trying to recycle every found footage trope imaginable and not injecting anything new. As such there is little in the way of scares and surprises here. I really found myself waiting for the clock to run out on this one. Ultimately, it’s another case of filmmakers with the passion and resourcefulness to complete a film but unfortunately they have nothing to say.
Response C. Dear God, is this the first time I’m not the nicest one? Remember when The Exorcism of Emily Rose did decent? To this day there’s always some VOD movie that has the title Exorcism of (Insert Name). I make it my mission to support and purchase indie works over a big studio production, there are many that are riding the wave of another’s success to make a quick buck. While I understand it’s a business, they usually lack the passion that you can feel as an audience member. For me, 3:15am dabbles into that camp. I don’t fault the filmmakers, they’re probably excited to have their short get made, but all the segments feel like a resume booster or something to pass the time until a better project comes along. Even with all the cliche found footage tropes, 3:15am is unable to stand without the gimmick of being the first French found footage anthology, a category that may have meant something several years ago… but probably not. J. Anthologies can and should be exciting and go for broke but this one is hampered by the found footage aspect which, I personally found really tired as it went on. The other thing was that none of these stories really made much sense and they just left you sort of confounded, not only about the clarity issue but the point in general. Not all of them but on average, most. K. Craig hit the nail on the head here in saying that this whole thing just feels uninspired. That’s what makes it difficult to watch. I can’t fault them for trying to capitalize on the found footage genre, albeit much too late. But the lack of any kind of original stamp or interesting story to tell makes this little more than a collection of short films that imitate tropes and shots from other films. It’s like reading a message that was poorly translated, now devoid of its meaning. Bloodhound’s average score: 2 out of 5