The Lost Footage of Leah Sullivan (2018) Movie Review - Found Footage Suggested by Reddit

Horror, Found Footage | 87 Min
Cover from Found Footage horror movie The Lost Footage Of Leah Sullivan (2018)
  • Director: Burt Grinstead
  • Actors: Anna Stromberg, Jimmy Driscoll, Burt Grinstead, Maureen Keiller
  • Writers: Burt Grinstead, Rob Runyeon, Anna Stromberg
  • Producers: Burt Grinstead
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English
  • Parental: Peril
  • Horror, Found Footage | 87 Min

An unedited memory card from a camera shows Leah Sullivan's school project about a cold case murder that doesn't seem to be so cold after all.

Welcome to Knockout Horror and to another entry into our series of Found Footage suggested by Reddit. For those of you who are new here, we have been picking movies suggested by Reddit’s bustling Found Footage community. Unfortunately, the results so far have been rather lacklustre. The Devil’s Well was a bit of a snooze fest and Curse of Aurore was exploitative tripe. Hopefully, today’s effort, The Lost Footage of Leah Sullivan from 2018, will buck that trend.

This movie is pretty much your standard found footage horror fare. A young woman, Leah Sullivan (Anna Stromberg), is conducting an investigation into a local murder mystery for a school project. Utilising the intimate knowledge of the area by the locals and her family. She digs deep into the history of the murder house and some of the subsequent cold cases that followed. Cases that might not actually be as cold as they initially seemed.

This One Is a Little Better

The Reddit user who recommended this movie also recommended I turn off the lights in my house and “smoke one”. Well, we have a pretty neat little LED movie lighting setup and we don’t smoke so had to skip those steps. I’d grab a whisky but there’s no way I am wasting good alcohol on potentially awful movies. I think if you are any way inebriated, you need to grade found footage on a curve. Any found footage horror is hilarious when drunk.

Screenshot from Found Footage horror movie The Lost Footage Of Leah Sullivan (2018)

Anyways, they were, sort of, on to something. The Lost Footage of Leah Sullivan isn’t a bad movie. Sure, it isn’t a great movie, but, by found footage standards, it’s watchable. It doesn’t break any new ground and goes deep into the bag of found footage horror tropes but, for the most part, it works. The movie plays out as an unedited replaying of the things Leah Sullivan recorded before going missing. Interviews are shown with locals and family members in an off the cuff style. And scenes of b-roll are included backed by conversations that took place while recording said b-roll.

Pacing is okay, there’s a few scares here and there, the mystery at the heart of the movie is fairly interesting and the ending is pretty intense. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not going to convert any non-found footage fans and much of what happens isn’t particularly of note. But it does enough to keep you engaged and fairly interested in the story being told. 

Generally Well Acted

Much of what works about The Lost Footage of Leah Sullivan is down to the cast. A likable bunch of characters that are, actually, competently acted. Some user reviews seem to dislike the main character, Leah, but that’s fairly standard for female leads in horror. Don’t dare have any personality or the mob will come for you. Found Footage movies, Curse of Aurore for example, all too often, suffer for unlikable casts. That isn’t the case here. Leah is a really fun character and we liked her a lot.

Screenshot from Found Footage horror movie The Lost Footage Of Leah Sullivan (2018)

Anna Stromberg is a confident and effective performer who seems very at home in front of the camera. An argument could be made that she is a little old to be playing a student (early 30s at the time, I am guessing) but it is a minor complaint. It’s not that she looks super old but she looks older than college age. 

Stromberg now runs a fairly popular ASMR channel called ASMR With Anna so if you want to keep up with her you can do that there. Personally, I suffer from pretty bad misophonia so somebody whispering into my ear sounds like my idea of hell but I know tons of people love this type of thing. Director Burt Grinstead also stars as the local cop Patrick and does a great job. I particularly enjoyed his transitions from comical observer to someone that was genuinely concerned about what was taking place.

Chemistry?

Something that my partner and I picked up on immediately that, sort of, seemed a little odd was the chemistry between characters. It’s like these guys have all known each other for years. It is particularly noticeable with Leah and Patrick who, despite having only just met, share that specific kind of chemistry that only romantic partners do.

Screenshot from Found Footage horror movie The Lost Footage Of Leah Sullivan (2018)

To be honest, it feels a bit odd as interactions lack the awkwardness you would expect from people who don’t know each other very well. Making them feel a little less authentic than they should. It turns out that Burt Grinstead and Anna Stromberg are actually a couple so that explains that. Though Anna shares this obvious familiarity with everyone in the movie.  

On the plus side, it means that everyone on screen is comfortable and nobody feels stiff or unnatural in their delivery. As far as scares go, this movie struggles in the same way as Curse of Aurore. The scares just aren’t that subtle and are way too obvious. The final 15 minutes of the movie are pretty intense, far more so than the very light hearted hour preceding. But much of the action is very poorly lit and too haphazardly filmed to be all that effective. The ending does feel a little rushed, as well. With an almost urgent need to wrap things up in a blood soaked bow.

Should You Watch The Lost Footage of Leah Sullivan?

If you are a found footage horror fan then you should check out The Lost Footage of Leah Sullivan. It’s actually a decently watchable movie with a great cast, an interesting story and a few scares thrown in here and there. It won’t convert any non-fans but does enough to be enjoyable. Some may find the pacing slow and the story a little boring. The ending deserves some criticism for filming style and poor lighting as well but, overall, this one isn’t too bad. You can check it out for free on YouTube.

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