Ready or not, there is another found footage style movie in town. False Flag recounts the events that take place one night while a small group attempts to escape a small town which is taken over by martial law. By taking this urban warfare approach, this movie does something new. So points for originality within the tired sub-genre that is the found footage movie.
False Flag moves on a quick click pacing wise. We start with Elliott Mayer (“Black Mask”, “Changing Diego”) as Michael Stone, hosting an underground internet news show called The Fringe Facts. I enjoyed the parallels drawn between this fictional show to political programs like Info Wars.
Our host tells us that the city of Madison has been taken over by the US military and they have exclusive video taken from the inside of the ordeal. “What you are about to see is graphic,” he warns us and with that let the found footage begin.
We are introduced to our two main protagonist, brothers with a checkered past. Sean Mount (“Reckless”, “Escape (Short)”) is Mark Whitmore, a failed entrepreneur who gambled more than he should have on his start up. Justin Rose (“Kin”, “Unwavering”) portrays his brother, Ash Whitmore.
The first found footage scene is of these two characters hiking. It shows how Ash resents the bad decisions Mark has made which has torn the family apart. The scene also brings us into this B-story quite nicely. Much like Cloverfield did, False Flag occasionally cuts back to this old footage left on the tape while the main action narrative plays out.
Marching into this A-story is Ash’s friend Donny, played by Andrew Yackel (“One Must Fall”, “Gutterbug”). Donny is armed with a camera and gives Ash a wearable camera as a gift. This is a movie, so you’ll want multiple camera angles after all. Already in this early scene, the technical aspects of telling a story this way made this action film, at times, a comedy of errors.
Such as Donny’s camera clearly pointing down towards the floor, yet when they cut to the view from it, it is pointed up to frame Ash correctly. At one point two characters are talking bad about a third person, who is clearly standing about 10 feet away and would hear every word. During a rescue mission at the end, they open a cage where many people are held to let one of the main characters out. A long dialogue exchange follows, yet all the other people in the cage stay in there to let the scene play out.
It is possible the casual viewer will not notice moments like this, but for me it took me out of the story, which was otherwise well told. These three are joined with Mark’s girlfriend Stephanie, played by Olivia Vadnais (“Dollface (Short)”).
Then all hell breaks loose. Tanks, Gun Shots and smoke bombs oh my. We follow their journey out into the streets, while they attempt to leave this city turned military state. False Flag delivers some moments of action and suspense beyond what many low budget movies of this type can muster.
Things heat up when the group teams up with two heavily armed civilians, Aaron Garrett as Roland and Keith Hernandez (“Dog Eat Dog”, “The Chop”) as Kurt. (Ehm, I like that character name Kurt, even though my name is spelled with a “C”.)
Roland is the man with the plan. A bad ass who conveniently has a camera mounted over his shoulder. This camera gives us an up close view of the action like you would see in a video game. These shots and a well written exposition scene which made the trailer are among the more watch worthy moments of False Flag.
It was wise to set this story in an unspecified city called Madison. Is it Madison, Wisconsin….. Virginia? This could be anywhere in middle America, which is the point the movie wants to make. The actual filming location of the movie was London…… London, Ohio.
It must be said that there is a reason why Garrett as Roland gets such a great part in False Flag….. Aaron Garrett is also the writer / director / executive producer of the movie.
Actor Sean Mount is also credited as an associate producer of False Flag. This is very common place for indie film these days, I just feel it should be noted. That being said, the acting was good and they all earned their keep.
After 76 minutes, the slow credits of False Flag begin to roll, and what are my final thoughts? This was middle of the road for me. I admire the originality and what they did on a budget, but the aforementioned set backs keep me from giving it a full salute.
I feel the political implications behind False Flag is something worth our attention. To give one real world example: in 2015, the US military turned the populated streets of Flint, Michigan into a war zone for weapons testing. If you are a big fan of found footage style movies, False Flag is one to see.
Curt Wiser does not just write movie reviews, he wrote and directed the suspense movie Cam-Girl. He is happy to serve the movie going public, by watching the work of other filmmakers, and giving a full report.