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  • Rev Horror

Dagr

Dir. Matthew Butler-Hart (2024)

Two social media influencers pose as caterers to gain access to a film shoot but wind up on the wrong side of a cult.


I have never shied away from my opinion that found footage can still be fantastic. It's definitely a difficult genre to get right, perhaps moreso than any other genre, but when it hits, man does it hit. By putting the audience into a first-person perspective in place of their characters, filmmakers can connect with a visceral experience that is unlike any other in cinema. Doing so in a scary situation can be incredibly exciting, providing as much adrenaline as a roller coaster ride within the safe confines of your living room. There are several key hurdles that must be overcome, however, and indie darling Dagr manages to sidestep a few of them while stumbling over a few crucial steps.


Thea (Ellie Duckles) and Louise (Riz Moritz) are YouTubers who have made their names committing crimes on video in which they steal from the rich and give to the poor (or at least attempt to). They have decided to break onto a film set, in which a group of actors are creating an artistic, black-and-white film, by posing as caterers at the big country house in which the film is being recorded. Unfortunately, they find themselves at the mercy of a brutal cult, and things progress about as well as you'd think.

Dagr boasts a pretty impressive pedigree: it's produced by Ian McKellan and is on Empire Films Magazine's list of films to watch in 2024. It's made by a production company called Fizz and Ginger Films, which was founded by director Matthew Butler-Hart and his wife Tori, who wrote the film with her husband and Graham Butler. I'm not familiar with any of their other work, but I can definitely say that there's a lot of talent behind the camera on this one. Dagr is a cross between The Blair Witch Project and Deadstream, while also feeling like a new and unique idea. Duckles and Moritz are charming and worth watching as the leads, and even when the film fails to connect, those two make it work.

Unfortunately, there are some areas where it doesn't live up to its billing. Despite a strong start, in which Thea and Louise manage to be charismatic and engaging despite the slow movement of the plot, the film largely falls apart in the final act. A lot of the problems with found footage films Dagr is able to avoid, creating both a reason for the cameras to be running and never deviating from this formula to take the viewer out of the first-person. Dagr tells two different stories at the same time, alternating between Thea and Louise's friendship and YouTube channel with the film crew they are attempting to rob. Despite managing to outwit these standard problems, it fails to provide a reason for the other piece of the film: the cult at the center of the story.

The ending of the film is largely convoluted, and while its certainly creepy at times and does a decent job with the scares, we're never entirely sure why any of it is happening. These aren't a group of young adults in the woods hunting for a local legend, nor are they making a television show about a haunted asylum or doing a news story about an apartment building suddenly filled with zombies. It just sorta happens, which I suppose is fine, but it definitely doesn't leave the impression it was capable of leaving. It feels like a movie that is almost there but can't fully hit the home run, settling for a single that threatens to become a double instead. It's still worth a watch for anyone who is a fan of the genre, because there are certainly parts that are well done and its eerie enough to get a few uneasy moments out of its audience. But for a film with such potential and with a couple of big names attached, it ultimately doesn't become what it really should have been.


Who this movie is for: Found footage fanatics, Indie film lovers, Robin Hood


Bottom line: Dagr fails to live up to its potential and its promise, but it's still got some decent scares for found footage lovers. The two leads are promising and endearing, the gore (what little there is) is effective, and it avoids a lot of the problems that found footage films usually encounter. The lack of punch or explanation of the third act ultimately cost it in its watcability, however, though its a decent watch if you can get past that bit. It's got enough folk horror chops and some decent found footage to make it worth while for genre fans.

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