REVIEW: For Roger (2021)

dir. Aaron Bartuska

Influenced by low budget hit The Blair Witch Project, Aaron Bartuska’s second feature follows the titular Roger (Michael Andrusiewicz) as he returns to his family’s remote cabin after the death of partner Clara (Jenna Gibilisco). Once there he reminisces over home videos, but as time goes by Roger realises that he and Clara were not the only people in the forest that surrounds the cabin, and he must face both his past behaviour and the consequences that have now arisen.

The exponential rise of the found footage format in horror has led the way in providing indie filmmaking with a more accessible platform, and so it’s always interesting to see new releases offer a unique viewpoint on the phenomenon. In this For Roger combines live action and VCR-style filming – having been recorded on MiniDV – giving it a realism that envelopes audiences as the story unfolds. 

Unfortunately it also lacks a focus on plot, the raison d’etre of the film getting lost. The most important part needed for a found footage film to work is often the ‘why’, and we never really find out how these events have come to be.

Where For Roger does succeed however is in getting across its central premise of how grief can sugar-coat relationships that perhaps were not the healthiest, as the lead is forced to realise his abusive, gaslighting ways from both an audience’s perspective and as someone who is constantly being watched – either by the stranger outside his window or the many deer heads that adorn the cabin walls. Despite being a slow burner then, For Roger is an interesting addition to the found footage genre, and a must see for fans of the format.

⭐⭐⭐

Ygraine Hackett-Cantabrana

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