The Dooms Chapel Horror was shot in Kentucky in true backwoods horror fashion, and yet incorporates multiple styles of filming including POV and found footage sub-genres similar to both Hotel Inferno (2013) and JeruZalem (2015), and will later suddenly switch to a narrative storytelling method briefly with regard to surveillance and trap cameras. John Holt directed this feature film of screenwriter Jason Turner concerning a down-home horror flick which mixes the genres of Horror and Crime, and gives credence to the advice, sometimes one can’t return home, and when Bill Oberst Jr. stands there waiting for you, you best on mosey on down the line.
All-American brother Ryan (William Ryan Watson) died in a strange combine accident, while his brother Kyle (Austin Madding) clowns around with a camera, blamed by everyone for his death. His parents’ grief struggle to accept his death and sight of Kyle causes more hatred, anger and despair causes him excise from the homestead. Ten years later, Kyle is returning to his hometown, in search of answers, bringing his girlfriend, Mandy (Abby Murphy) appearing a tad skittish and friend, Tanner (Shaun Gerardo) maintains one of the camera operator positions. Early on one wonders the importance of film a documentary on this topic, but the crazy paranoid locals, make it more interesting quickly. They investigate the events that led to Ryan’s death and some of the crazed locals, cultists and a monster lurking in the woods, just a tad out of camera frame. Meanwhile, Kyle wears a body cam’ for much of the film thereby assisting in recording more intense conversations the locals, including threats and harassment. Soon enough they confront a religious zealot Jordan (Bill Oberst Jr.) a powerful and key person in the tight knit community along with Samuel (Joshua Mark Robinson) and blame Kyle of a plague of issues. These townsfolk, stereotype in horror films, as well as those of action drama, the legendary film Deliverance (1972), play by their own rules and commandants, far remove from the judgmental concepts of modern society. This all adds to the creation portion of the movie involve a hidden creature and strange occultist drawings on both objects and people, ratcheting up the creepy factors and using a rural locations of limited light for a few scares. In addition, it works well with handheld cameras, and yet stalls a bit with narrative usage of trap cameras, regarding claiming that footage too. It references a plot-hole problem, if one chased from the woods by both a creature and cultist, does one have enough courage to return to the wilderness to claim the footage. Holt allows the story time to breathe and build suspense, with solid introductions and establishing shots of the characters, with a believable reasoning, and not rushing the moments. He generates a natural conflict and mistrust both from the cultists and to the outsiders, while using a careful blend of growing uncertainty for the three friends and having the audience actually caring about them.
One of the primarily reasons for viewing this movie, to see Bill’s performance, he’s likely one of the busiest actors in the business, and especially in the horror genre. Many aspiring actors mention following his path of award winning performance, and his building of incredible resume of work of over 132 horror films alone. Oberst delivers a precision perfect performance, methods and trials incredible intense process of dedication to his work generates his own motivation to each role encountered.
The supporting acting roles carry the best as expected, but occasionally hit a speed bump and creates unintentionally awkward scene and yet seamlessly transition well to the next tension mounting moment. Murphy earns an equal amount of screen time along with Madding, showing her capable skills to react to growing fears and tensions, without either landing to overacting out of bounds realm, while he presents a natural feel for his role. The switching of filming styles of POV to a narrative, loses the suspense, and generates an inconsistency for the viewers to enjoy.
The Dooms Chapel Horror, distributed by Brain Damage Films, brings a refreshing usage to the tiresome found footage subgenre and delivering a few comedic lines to break the tension, just enough allowing some grotesque scenes to develop for the enjoyment of the horror fans. Holt, with a limited budget effectively provides entertainment heightened exquisitely by Oberst Jr., and given an intense and powerful message of religious paranoia for the rest of the cast to try to escape the beast.