Murder Box (2019) is a found footage horror/crime film directed by Gerald Varga and written by Jimmy Gannon and Gerald Varga. The film is a documentary following the lead suspect of a murder investigation, a stand-up “horror comic,” who performs under the stage name of Gerald Gerald Geraldson.
The film opens with documentary footage of a police detective describing the interrogation of murder suspect Sam Geraldson, a stand-up horror comic who performs under the persona of Gerald Gerald Geraldson. Sam Geraldson is not only the prime suspect for a series of murders, but is also under investigation for the whereabouts of missing person Kim Saunders.
The detective goes on to explain that the interrogation did not go as planned. It turns out that Gerald Gerald Geraldson is much more than a stage name invented by Sam Geraldson—Gerald Gerald Geraldson is a second personality. Sam is mentally ill, and his second personality is more cunning and deceitful than the unsuspecting investigative team had anticipated.
Will the police uncover the whereabouts of Kim Saunders disappearance before it is too late? Or did Kim suffer the same fate as Sam Geraldson’s other murder victims? The police are in a race against time and are facing a vicious adversary in the form of Gerald Gerald Geraldson. Will Gerald Gerald Geraldson prevail over the police—the footage reveals the horrifying truth.
It Ain’t Easy Being Creepy
Director Gerald Varga plays the role of Gerald Gerald Geraldson, or “GGG” for short. Consequently, director Gerald Varga is also a standup comic and invented GGG in 2007 as part of his comedy routine.
Found Footage Critic asked director Gerald Varga about the history behind GGG, and he had this to say, “Gerald Gerald Geraldson is a horror comic, a ghoulish looking freak of a man who drinks blood out of his hand with a straw as he tells off-color jokes. My inspiration for GGG was born out of my love for the truly badass characters in my favorite horror films. I find myself laughing in the theatre when a character is so over the top evil. It’s just plain ridiculous and ridiculous is funny to me.”
In 2009, Gerald Varga performed as GGG at the Vancouver Global Comedy Festival with his one-man show, It Ain’t Easy Being Creepy, and toured with Evil Dead the Musical, warming up the crowd. In 2013, he co-produced GGG: One Night Stab (2013) to promote his live shows. In 2019, Murder Box (2019) was an official selection at the prestigious Unnamed Footage Festival in San Francisco. During the festival, director Gerald Varga performed as his murderous comedic character GGG before the film premiered.
Indie filmmakers often have fascinating stories about their entry points to filmmaking, and director Gerald Varga is no exception, He goes on to say, “I took night classes at BCIT, studied video editing, and got a full-time job at a film gear rental house to learn how to use the gear. I also borrowed a lot of the company’s gear which I wouldn’t have been able to afford to rent. It was basically my film school and I got paid to be there.”
Found Footage Cinematography
Murder Box (2019) is filmed with a variety of video cameras, including a head-mounted camera, webcam, surveillance cameras, professional video camera, and an aerial drone. The footage is presented as a documentary, stitching together footage from a variety of sources, most of which are primarily police evidence. The documentary is narrated by a policy detective closely involved with the murder case. Interview footage of the police detective is strategically placed throughout Murder Box (2019) to help navigate viewers through a story that is told via the plethora of police video evidence.
While the documentary footage looks real-enough, the presentation is overly grandiose and intentionally grandstanding, something not akin to a tried-and-true documentary. More specifically, the film includes over-the-top music during police video evidence, a no-no for a documentary film. Fortunately, the editing style is fully explained late in the story, so viewers are encouraged to remain patient and enjoy the film as it plays out.
Also included in Murder Box (2019) are videos from character Kim Saunder’s video blog, aptly named Stalker Blog. Conversely, antagonist Gerald Gerald Geraldson has his own video blog, the not-so-ironically named Psycho Blog. These videos have their own unique and campy aesthetic, which works in the film’s favor. Murder Box (2019) also does a good job at distinguishing the different camera sources from one another, using different video quality, color versus black-and-white, and using different fonts and screen placement for video time stamps and labels.
Overall, director Gerald Varga does an exceptional job infusing his comedic roots into the cinematic bones of Murder Box (2019), resulting in a both horrifying yet equally funny experience for viewers to enjoy.
Murder Box (2019) provides a strong justification for all the existence of the footage presented throughout the film. The interrogation footage comprising most of the film is recorded as a matter of evidentiary record and requires no reason for being. The “murder” footage was filmed by the killer and is the product of a deranged mind. The comedy club footage is labeled as having been filmed by a fan of Gerald Gerald Geraldson. And of course, the video blog footage was recorded by character Kim Saunders with the intent of punishing (and possibly provoking) character Sam Geraldson. The remaining sources of footage presented throughout the film have equally as strong filming justifications.
From a more holistic view, the footage presented in Murder Box (2019) is an amalgamation of police evidence recovered from the suspect’s cameras, third-party witnesses, online video posts, and interrogation footage.
Found Footage Purity
Director Gerald Varga goes out of his way to sell the veracity of MurderBox (2019). While the film does contain a healthy amount of non-diegetic music, tension building thunderclaps, and video pan/zooms, these elements are explained away using a series of strategically placed text boxes. Some of these text boxes include verbiage such as “Cinematic Alterations: Music” and “Cinematic Alterations: Dramatic Zooms.” The inclusion of these elements enables director Gerald Varga to violate the rules of found footage and then neatly justify the infractions.
Despite the justification of these unconventional on-screen elements, a true documentary would not include any dramatic overtone of actual police video evidence (particularly murders). However, director Gerald Varga miraculously finds a way to explain away the inclusion of these elements towards the end of the film. Any further discussion on this point would delve into spoiler territory and is therefore omitted from this review.
In true Jeckle and Hyde fashion, director Gerald Varga phenomenally plays the dual-personalities of Sam Geraldson and Gerald Gerald Geraldson. His comfort with the role of the seminal character should come at no surprise given that director Gerald Varga has played this role in comedy skits for over ten years prior to the making of Murder Box (2019).
Desiree Zantolas does a commendable job as Kim Saunders, the vengeful ex-girlfriend of Sam Geraldson. Her acting in the video blog entries sometimes comes across as rigid, which works for these scenes since she is in-fact, scripting and filming her own video blog. Unfortunately, this same delivery carries over to scenes where character Kim is unknowingly recorded on video surveillance cameras, which should present as more natural—nonetheless, Desiree Zantolas effectively sells her character.
Steve Dunphy plays the immutable detective Doug Fisher, who is intent on breaking Sam Geraldson and his alter ego to learn the whereabouts of missing person Kim Saunders. If nothing, Steve Dunphy has an impressive resume, having worked as a production assistant on such films as Smallville (2007), Falling Skies (2013), Fringe (2013), Robocop (2014), Godzilla (2014), and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017). Murder Box (2019) is his first acting role.
Darren Andrichuck turns in an exceptional performance as the veteran Detective Allan Chernyk. His no-nonsense, yet compassionate delivery throughout Murder Box (2019) firmly grounded the documentary roots of the film. His character was a necessary (sane) counter-point to Gerald Gerald Geraldson’s often off-the-rails rants.
Rounding out the cast is Kelly Richard Fennig as Kim Saunders’ new love interest, David Quast as Kim Saunders’ psychiatrist, Jimmy Gannon as the Helmet Cam Killer, Kris Buller as Garret Parker, Sande Rees as Shannon, and Kayte Barkshire as Shannon’s friend.
At the film’s core, Murder Box (2019) is a vehicle for director Gerald Varga’s seminal character, Gerald Gerald Geraldson. Director Gerald Varga has lived with his alter ego for so long (over ten years), that this reviewer found himself asking if Gerald Gerald Geraldson is truly Gerald Varga’s second persona—after all, Gerald Varga even made a facebook page for Gerald Gerald Geraldson!
For readers truly interested in getting a better glimpse of Gerald Gerald Geraldson in all his glory (and looking for a gut-wrenching laugh to boot), look no further than this faux eHarmony video submission. Although not found footage, director Gerald Varga also created an approximately 45-minute short featuring Gerald Gerald Geraldson to promote his live comedy shows.
Director Gerald Varga offered Found Footage Critic some interesting notes about the Murder Box (2019) cast, “The majority of the actors—six of them including myself—are all part of a theatre collective called ‘Spectral Theatre Society.’ Spectral used to have its own theatre that seated about 30 people and produced live horror and sci-fi plays. I produced a Geraldson play called ‘Killing’ which was very well received. And I acted in numerous others and directed one show. The theatre group still exists but the space was condemned so now the shows are much less frequent as they rent space now.”
We asked director Gerald Varga about his favorite moment shooting Murder Box (2019), and here’s what he had to say, “I really liked Desiree’s performance in the scene where she and I were on the couch. That was the first scene we shot for the film and my favorite scene in the movie. Shooting the clown scene was also a fond memory. We were able to shoot that whole sequence in just over 3 hours and everyone was super prepared and knew all their lines.”
Murder Box (2019) is a truly entertaining film that finds ways to tease humor out of horrific circumstances better than most (if not all) found footage films to-date. Director Gerald Varga developed a unique and entertaining story to showcase everything that is great about his Mr. Hyde-esque creation. Murder Box (2019) is a found footage film you need to see.
Gerald Gerald Geraldson Promo Videos!
You don’t have to wait for the release of Murder Box (2019) to watch character Gerald Gerald Geraldson in all his glory. Check out these two promo videos!