Found footage is a very polarizing sub genre of horror. This is for good reason since the movies can be so hit and miss. Some rely exclusively on the tropes as if they are enough. The best break the molds. Confessional is a found footage/faux documentary exclusively airing on Shudder. After two sudden deaths on a college campus, seven students record confessions in a futuristic booth. But what are they confessing to and what are they trying to hide?
There is clever use of cameras throughout the movie. The opening has a found footage feel to it. This quickly changes to a pseudo-documentary. Before long, Confessional is similar to many of the reality shows on television. Despite the changes in style, the whole thing flows smoothly. This is thanks to the smart editing. Despite the constant cuts, things never seem erratic. Once the confessions start, the movie adds more layers. There are title cards that speak to the audience, flashbacks, and various camera angles. It all adds to the mystery without overwhelming the audience.
Confessional is helped by its strong performances. What makes the work especially good is it is done under very difficult circumstances. The majority of the movie takes place in a small booth. Everything depends on how well the cast gets their feelings across. Without good acting, the story would become boring and repetitive. Annalisa Cochrane is especially good as the drug dealing Raquel.
As more secrets are revealed, the story becomes more interesting. This is the tricky part in these types of movies. There is a tendency to rely on twists to advance the plot. That is never the case here though much is learned in the last third of the movie. Confessional piles a lot on without ever becoming overly complicated, though the ending may run a little long.
In a movie with a large cast there is always the chance that some characters will overshadow others. Though it is not as bad as other movies, Confessional does suffer from the same problem. Part of it is the film’s structure, Much of the storytelling deals with one person at a time. It does not hurt the movie, but it is not a good thing when the audience forgets about one character.
Confessional is an engaging movie. It has a strong premise and an intriguing mystery. The film introduces some unique ideas without ever leaving its audience behind. What makes the movie work so well, is the exceptional performances from the cast under unusual circumstances. The ending will be anticlimactic to some, but it will be well worth the ride.
Confessional comes to Shudder May 28.