WEKUFE: THE ORIGIN OF EVIL (2016)
Directed and written by Javier Attridge.
Starring Paula Figueroa, Matias Aldea
Find out more about this film @Wekufemovie
It’s been a while since I’ve applied my found footage questionnaire to a review. This is mainly because there simply aren’t too many found footagers released these days. Still, I think my old series of questions put against the subgenre applies. I reviewed WEKUFE: THE ORIGIN OF EVIL quite a while ago as an advance review and just found out it is finally going to be released this week, so I figured I’d repost my review to remind folks about this effective little first person POV horror.
What’s the premise?
A pair of filmmakers (Paula Figueroa and Matias Aldea, who use their real names in this film—nice touch) head out to Chilé, remote Patagonia island in southern Chile to delve into the connection between the high number of sex crimes in the area and local myths of a monster in the woods. This monster has been known by many names and as Matias tells us, many of the creatures from Lovecraft, Poe, and other masters of the macabre originate from the myths of Chile. As Paula and Matias discuss the pros and cons of the found footage genre, they get closer and closer to uncovering the shocking truth behind the myth of the Wekufe.
Are the actors believably acting like they aren’t acting?
The strongest aspect of WEKUFE: THE ORIGIN OF EVIL is the acting. And this is integral to carrying the entire film. Figueroa is mesmerizing as the lead reporter on the story. She is treating this as a legit news story and does a fantastic job talking to everyone from the people in the marketplace to the governor of the island. While she is absolutely ravishing, Paula’s main likable trait is her determination to uncover the truth in the many scenes where she becomes frustrated when her boyfriend/documentarian Matias tries to make this investigation more interesting with morbid facts, comical clowning, and attempts at affection. There were times when Paula and Matias are simply chatting and soaking up the Chilean habitat that are as entrancing as the mystery itself. Both Aldea and Figueroa are great, but because she is in front of the camera for the bulk of the film, I definitely could see Figueroa becoming an international star with what she does here in this film.
Does is seem like this footage was actually found and not untouched by additional production (which means there is no omniscient editor making multiple edits or an invisible orchestra providing music)?
For the most part, yes. There are a few instances where the camera captures something at the coincidental right moment or falls in the right spot. This is something that is evident of a narrative film being made (which always pokes the suspension of disbelief bubble surrounding found footage) but there is not additional music or multiple camera edits. This is definitely footage that could pass as if it was real if found and that authenticity makes more a more solid film.
Is there a valid reason the camera isn’t dropped and they just get the hell out of there?
Yes, they are filming a documentary; soaking in the local flavor and never knowing when something interesting will happen. This also seems to be capturing special moments between Paula and Matias as if they are treating this like a vacation as well. When things get dire, Matias uses the camera as both a light source to see what is happening and he is also still in full investigative mode, desperate to try to capture footage of the weirdness that is happening on the isle.
Is the lead in too long and the payoff too short?
No, as I said earlier, I was into simply seeing Paula and Matias act off of one another to be bored. There are ominous things peppered throughout as they two reporters get closer and closer to uncovering the mystery. These two also keep things fun because they themselves have seen a lot of found footage films. Matias is an aspiring director and wants to make a found footage film some day. He is frustrated that Spielberg, Scorsese, and the like made they first films in their twenties and becoming thirty, he hasn’t done that yet. In between the investigations, Matias and Paula talk about the horrible clichés in found footage films, which makes for a fun meta-commentary on the genre itself. The payoff in the end is pretty powerful, specifically because one is so invested in the well being of these two. I didn’t want anything bad to happen because they were so likable and because of this, the payoff, though it is quick, is satisfying.
Is there an up-nose BLAIR WITCH confessional or a REC-drag away from the camera?
Yes, but these are done in jest. Paula tears up and puts the camera under her nose to mock that trope in these films. She also comments on how the shaky cam always gets her sick and how the monster is never actually shown at the end of the film. The inclusion of these little comments are what make this film all the more fun to watch because it mentions the problems with the genre and then veers from those expectations.
Does anything actually happen?
A lot happens. Though I’m making it sound like there’s nothing but found footage discourse, this really is a well paced mystery with the situation growing dire by the moment. Though they might not completely realize it, there is danger all around these people as cops are following them, people are avoiding them on the street, and in one extremely creepy scene, masked street performers begin following them around menacingly.
Does the film add anything to the subgenre and is this one worth watching?
WEKUFE: THE ORIGIN OF EVIL is a smart and tension filled little found footager. The exotic Chilean locale makes it feel like it has a higher budget that it most likely did, but it not only serves as a cool travelogue of an faraway land, but it also goes meta at times and comments on the very found footage subgenre of horror it occupies. But while the film points out the subgenre’s faults, it also strays from expectations and leads to a shocking ending that is all the more powerful because of the talent of the two actors in front of and behind the camera.