The Blair Witch Project premiered 20 years ago, and as I discovered when I recently wrote a story about the anniversary, it’s a love it or hate it movie. If you are part of the “love it” camp (as I am), you should hop on over to Amazon Prime and watch Butterfly Kisses.
Written and directed by Maryland filmmaker Erik Kristopher Myers, Butterfly Kisses was his attempt to “deconstruct” the found footage genre. If movies such as The Blair Witch Project were actually real events, would people even believe it in this day and age?
There are actually two movies within Butterfly Kisses, and the most important one begins with a self-recorded statement by film student Sophia, filmed in black and white. She faces the camera, and tells her audience that she doesn’t expect to be alive much longer due to the thesis film she has been making with fellow student Feldman — a film about the legend of Peeping Tom, a “Flemmern-geist,” or spirit that you catch sight of just in your peripheral vision.
Also known as Blink Man or Mr. Blink, he’s said to appear when you stare down the Ilchester Tunnel (which really exists in Maryland) without blinking for a full hour. After that, he gets closer to you each time you blink, and when he is close enough, he will give you “butterfly kisses” with his abnormally long eyelashes, causing you to blink a final time, then die.
Sophia says she expects to die soon, because she doesn’t know how much longer she can go without blinking.Butterfly Kisses – Rachel Armiger – Courtesy Cyfuno Ventures
This brings us to the second movie within Butterfly Kisses, which is the documentary aspiring filmmaker Gavin attempts to make after Sophia’s tapes were discovered in his parents’ basement. He is on a mission to find out if Peeping Tom, Sophia, and Feldman are real, or if Sophia’s footage is faked. And, by the way, Gavin is financially strapped, filming weddings to make extra cash and regularly borrowing money from his parents.
As we flip back and forth between Sophia and Feldman’s footage and Gavin’s documentary-in-progress, we learn a little more about each. Feldman and Sophia theorize that setting up a camera at the entrance to the tunnel will simulate an unblinking eye, and that every time the camera is turned off, it counts as a blink. I am sure you can see where all of this leads.
Gavin’s determination to make his documentary puts his home life increasingly in peril, and his short temper and frustration largely derail his efforts to fund the film. He’s not exactly a likable character and yet this story is so engrossing that I continued to care about the outcome.Butterfly Kisses – Seth Adam Kallick – Courtesy Cyfuno Ventures
This film includes some really great cameo appearances, including The Blair Witch Project creator Eduardo Sanchez and Matt Lake, writer of the “Weird” travel guides (Weird Florida, Weird Pennsylvania, etc.). Butterfly Kisses’ own creator even appears as himself, as the director of Gavin’s documentary.
Gavin’s downward spiral continues, and we are drawn more and more into the story, as we try to figure out for ourselves whether or not Sophia’s movie was set up. Did Gavin himself actually fake the Sophia footage?
At the risk of giving too much away, I will just say that the final third of Butterfly Kisses was chilling, and I thought the ending was perfect. As a huge fan of The Blair Witch Project, I saw this film as an homage to that ground-breaking work of art, but also an original in its own right.
Also on the plus side: if Blair Witch’s shaky camera work made you queasy, you will be happy to know that there is not too much of that in Butterfly Kisses. There are some disturbing camera “glitches” and sounds throughout, but they just contribute to the eerie factor of this dark tale.
Look, if you just hate found footage movies, Butterfly Kisses may not be for you, in spite of the fact that it’s a great twist on the genre. But, if you love creepy, realistic horror with an original flavor, give it a shot.
Are you a fan of found footage horror, or is it not your cup of tea? Have you or will you watch Butterfly Kisses? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.