Movie Review: 'Curse of Aurore' Beats the Found Footage Curse
Found footage is a played out genre and yet, Curse of Aurore finds a way to make it
Found footage horror is the sub-genre that will not die. Despite the repeated and tiresome tropes and the sameness of the look of found footage, filmmakers continue to return to this well worn subset of the horror genre. The reason for this is obvious, it’s a way to make a movie cheap and fast. This doesn’t mean a found footage movie can’t be good, but the challenge grows to make a found footage movie that isn’t like every other found footage horror film.
The makers of the new horror movie, Curse of Aurore, beat the cliches of found footage through the use of a clever meta-narrative and three likable characters in the lead. This includes producer Llana Barron whose hometown and childhood home provide the setting for Curse of Aurore, a French Canadian cottage in the town of Fortierviille, near French Quebec, famous for the murder of a child known as Aurore Gagnon.
In February of 1920, 10 year old Aurore Gagnon was beaten savagely by a member of her family, Marie Ann Houde. Houde married Aurore’s father, Telesphore Gagnon, after the death of his wife and Aurore’s mother in 1918. In 1919 Houde began a campaign of emotional and physical abuse of Aurore that has never been explained or understood. At one point Aurore spent 30 days in a hospital from her injuries only to return to the abuse after recovering.
Aurore Gagnon was killed in February of 1920 in a crime that shocked Canada. Aurore suffered 54 different wounds over a period of days. One wound to her head left her hair matted to her skull with blood. When she was found, she’d been beaten so badly that the skin on each of her wrists had been torn off to the bone. It was a ghastly crime, to say the least, and the brutality has turned it into legend.
Curse of Aurore does not feature the torture and death of Aurore but rather uses the legend as a jumping off point for a supernatural horror movie. The premise is thus, two American filmmakers are headed to Canada to meet with their friend and collaborator and finalize plans for a screenplay. The screenplay is based on the legend of Aurore Gagnon, her horrific murder and the legends that have cropped up around it.
Llana Barron plays Lena, the lead actress of the story and co-screenwriter. She’s invited her longtime friends, Aaron (Lex Wilson) and Kevin (Jordan Kaplan) to her childhood home in Fortierville to stay at her house to research the story of Aurore Gagnon and come up with a workable, sellable, screenplay based on the legend. Naturally, things do not go to plan. As the friends banter about plot points and what they’ve learned about Aurore’s story, creepy stuff keeps popping up.
Everyone in town appears opposed to the notion of a movie about Aurore. The angry reactions to their filming everything they do, from research at Aurore’s grave to simply buying groceries, is rather out of proportion to three people shooting random footage of their Canadian vacation. Things begin to happen at Lena’s home, minor things like a large door slamming shut and being unable to be opened or the sight of townsfolk walking single file into the home next door with energy of zombies.
Where all of this is headed you can probably imagine. That said, Curse of Aurore doesn’t constantly adhere to the most recognizable patterns of found footage horror. Director Mehran Torgoley uses the chemistry of his core three actors to create a clever meta-narrative to keep things from becoming overly familiar. While struggling to come up with the script, Torgoley and star Llana Barron gathered at her home and bantered about the story for their movie and from there, that became the story of the movie, a meta-narrative about making a movie.
One of the strange aspects of found footage is how all of this footage was found, assembled and presented to the masses. Many modern found footage movies do little to nothing to answer this reasonable questionable origin story. Curse of Aurore gets around this with a nifty and modern story device. Casey Nolan is a real life YouTube personality on the channel Mindseed TV. Casey’s past schtick involved buying so-called ‘Dark Web Mystery Boxes.’
For the framing device in Curse of Aurore, Nolan is employed to show how the video of the filmmakers was obtained and how it was able to be presented to an audience. It’s a solid foundation for a horror movie, even as 'The Dark Web' is becoming a bit of an edgelord cliche in its own right. Nolan’s authenticity in the role of YouTube presenter helps smooth the edges of what could otherwise be just another unexplained found footage movie.
For horror fans, Curse of Aurore is a solid bit of angsty, jumpy scares. It has a solid framing device and some well chosen frights that are kept to the end for maximum tension building. Some elements are overly familiar such as your standard shaky cam and those overly intense townsfolk that I mentioned earlier. Nevertheless, there is fun to be had with three likable leads, a fun meta-narrative, and a really solid and scary ending.
Curse of Aurore arrives on Blu-Ray, DVD and Streaming rental platforms on January 12th, 2021.