Film Review: AGONi (2015)

Film Review: AGONi (2015)

May 26, 2015

IMDb: AGONi (2015)
Director: Ryan Logsdon
Star: Ryan Logsdon

AGONi, a new film from first time director Ryan Vincent Logsdon, is a found footage horror film for extreme horror fans. The film’s plot is based on recovered footage from a murderer known as Maxwell Edison. The footage has a stamp that reads “Property of Agoni County District Attorney Office” displayed throughout. The stamp adds to the authenticity of what you are watching. Add that to the bootleg look of this limited edition version and you have the perfect recipe for a struggling actor to call the FBI.

Logsdon’s film uses a voyeuristic style. Because there are no shaky cam or jump scares, AGONi is shot in a more realistic approach than we typically see in found footage films. Gasp, it is as if the person holding the camera would actually try to stabilize a shot, almost as if they wanted to go back and look at the footage later without the need of a barf bag. The camera isn’t as still as it would be if a crane or mount was used, in fact, it is as steady as you would expect an actual home video to be. Normal people are conscious of the shaky cam effect or at least I was as a teenager using a one.

The other thing of note is the way the camera moves around the settings, it is as if the cameraman, Maxwell Edison, sees or hears something that the audience does not. Something out of the corner of his eye. The camera pans as Maxwell surveys his surroundings only to pause and go back or hold the pause for a few seconds. The result is jarring. You never feel safe or comfortable because of this. It is as though, at any moment, we will start seeing and hearing the horrendous things in Maxwell’s mind. This pan and pause style is only used in the first 20 minutes or so of the 60 minute runtime giving the effect just enough time to pull you in. It also only happens when Maxwell is by himself, exploring. This only adds to the unsettling feeling of dread.

The realism of this film makes it evocative. The brutality and violence happens off screen but that doesn’t make it any easier to watch. What is shown is vile and hard to stomach. It doesn’t help that the “Property of Agoni County District Attorney Office” is pasted in the bottom corner of the screen the entire film. Having it there is never annoying. It only serves a purpose to remind us that what we are watching is real. It is effective. In the first few minutes, you will grab the DVD case just to confirm the fiction of this film.

AGONi is a strong directorial debut that firmly places Ryan Vincent Logsdon in the annals of underground cinema. It is easy to draw comparisons to August Underground or perhaps even James Bell’s Dog Dick, but that would be doing a disservice to AGONi. This is a film that stands well enough on its own and has enough interesting ideas to surprise even the most veteran of horror junkies.