The death of young Jessica Price remains unsolved when the cops close the case. Her friends decide to look further into it and create a documentary around it.
"At All Cost" was started a couple of years back as a tribute to the "August Underground" flicks, and I believe also intended for the boxset that was planned (but has yet to be released). This was around the time where I personally started making more serious films, with the same intentions, so Jean-Sébastien Marsolais' film has been stocked in my mind ever since then. In the case of "At All Cost", things got pushed to the side for a while but finally Jean-Sébastien Marsolais got to finish his long-time planned film. However the final product is not the same as what he originally set out to do, it became something bigger than just a tribute. And here it is now, released in a very limited run that comes with some nice extras, in true independent spirit.
The film is a mockumentary that takes on a documentary style rather than being found footage. Brian Pleasence can't get over the fact that the murder investigation of his friend Jessica Price has been dropped. He starts documenting his personal investigation and is eventually able to track down footage of the murder. It's a slow progress, and rather than simply being a torture flick it jumps back to footage shot before her death and to the present day where Brian is searching for the truth.
"At All Cost" is clearly created due to their love of movies and because the movie kept coming back to them. It's also done with a very small budget and a small crew. With these things in mind, it's easy to be curious about the movie, and I was happy to see that it focused more on the friends trying to find the truth behind Jessica's murder. Torture movies are fine and all, but it's always more interesting to see a different spin on it. The fact that this is done as a character's own documentary on a subject helps "At All Cost" get away with certain things that found footage mockumentaries do because they didn't think it through. "At All Cost" takes small steps forward and in its hour-ish runtime it manages to tease you just enough to stick around.
I can't ignore that there are certain flaws in the movie. It's not so much budgetary things, but things like their English not always being up to par, the random mention of a photographer, the torture scene not living up to the search, certain scenes running a bit too long and so forth. It's possible that they could have achieved a smoother experience with a shorter runtime without ruining the overall idea. I suppose that this is a debut feature (short feature, but feature all the same in my opinion) so it is okay to have some lumps.
I'm glad to finally see the release of this and the DVD is worth getting for the real independent fan. It has some interesting ideas and how it decides to execute them. Unfortunately not all of the good ideas are fully functional, but it's a different spin on the mockumentary subgenre while still maintaining within frames. Despite good intentions, it suffers from a few things and might not be spectacular, but it's not a waste if you're curious like myself. Jean-Sébastien Marsolais and Geneviève Parent have taken a leap together, and while it didn't win me over completely it's hopefully only the beginning for them.