Butterfly Kisses (2018)

Despite the fact that I’m a fan of the found footage sub-genre, whenever I come across a new independent film that embraces the format, I release a small groan of worry. Granted, the format can still unleash some gems, but too many times filmmakers tend to fall in to the trappings of clichés and typical twists, not to mention building up to something and never actually delivering. Thankfully “Butterfly Kisses” is a strong horror film that skillfully implements the format while also examining the dangers of becoming obsessed with lore and the darkness of humanity.

Centered on a filmmaker named Gavin, he finds old DV tapes in the basement of the home of his in-laws. Curious at the labels on them, he begins exploring their contents, and find the footage of an incomplete senior film school project. Said student named Sophia was researching the mythical boogey man known as “Peeping Tom.” Also known by the names “The Blink Man” and “Mr. Blink,” he’s an entity that manifests at the end of the Ilchester train tunnel at midnight. If you stare unblinking for a whole hour, he will manifest and get closer and closer to you until you’re no more. Gavin is fascinated by what he’s watched, and brings along a documentary crew to chronicle his efforts to figure out what happened to Sophia and what the Peeping Tom is. What he unearths might prove to be more horrendous than anyone ever imagined.

“Butterfly Kisses” admittedly had me a bit wary as I was certain it’d be more of the same found footage fodder, but Erik Kristopher Myers builds a very unnerving and often creepy tale. “Butterfly Kisses” is very much about the deep dark hole we can find ourselves in when we become obsessed with the unknown, and director Kristopher Myers manages to build a multi-layered genre entry that will keep many spooked until the very end. “Butterfly Kisses” ends up as a documentary within a documentary within a found footage movie, and slowly unravels all three worlds with pitch perfect precision. They inevitably fold in one another in a way I simply did not anticipate, and when they all come collapsing in on each other, I found it genuinely unnerving and creepy. The suspense and tension build beautifully as the mystery to “The Blink Man” is brutally creative and incredibly creepy.

Director Kristopher Myers is very restrained in his handling of the film’s monster, introducing us first to the monster that Gavin ends up becoming, and then allowing us glimpses at whether or not The Blink Man is even a real being. Maybe “The Blink Man” is a real threat, or perhaps the only threat is how entangled people become with unearthing the legend. The way Gavin’s life slowly crumbles as he digs deeper in to the legend becomes an unusual testament to the madness and self-destruction that can ensue with obsession. The epilogue is both ambiguous, but pretty much says everything that needs to be said in the realm of legends and the momentum they can build. Erik Kristopher Myer’s “Butterfly Kisses” is a strong horror film and one you should seek out if you want something a different with your found footage horror.