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The Founder Effect

average rating is 2 out of 5


Joe Beck


Posted on:

Apr 5, 2024

Film Reviews
The Founder Effect
Directed by:
Justin MacGregor
Written by:
Justin MacGregor
Rick Edwards, Greg Sestero, Evan Riley Brown, Lilith Foxx

There are some films that undeniably feel like a knock off from a celebrated and respected director’s body of work. There are countless gangster films which could be said to be reminiscent of Scorsese, while some recent films have been labelled as Spieberg-esque in their stories of young characters on a fantastical adventure. ‘The Founder Effect’ bares all the characteristics of a Clint Eastwood film, right down to the appearance of one of its lead characters, only it feels like a cheap version of Eastwood, lacking the spark, quality and sense of true grit that underpins the films of the legendary star.


This is an Eastwood revenge film without the star man. Set in a small American town - with the depressingly obvious name of ‘Hope’, which only works if the film is REALLY good - we follow an ageing man as he tries to find and save his missing grandson from the shadows. It plays much like ‘Mystic River’ lite, with the man, Jack Rooney, who is played by Rick Edwards, already grappling with the loss of his son. His character is compelling enough though only through his broadness - he is the archetypal ageing all-American hero - and due to the genuinely raw performance of Edwards, who makes even the most poorly written scenes somewhat watchable.


The film also stars Greg Sestero, who plays Mark in ‘The Room’, as Decklan Bakker, and is directed by Justin MacGregor, who has in recent years directed Tommy Wiseau in the ‘Best F(r)iends’ duology. MacGregor’s directing is a little choppy at times, but forgive the abysmal quality of editing and there’s positives to be taken from it, particularly in regards to the lighting of each scene, which feels delicate and precise.


However, as was aforementioned, ’The Founder Effect’ is edited woefully, with quick cuts and montages which take the viewer out of the experience and which are, in all truth, amusingly bad. This, combined with some poor sound mixing and a score which sounds as though it came straight from a hallmark film, makes the film seem lazy and cheap, and detracts from what quality there is in MacGregor’s direction.


Furthermore, the script, also written by MacGregor, is poorly written. The framing device of Sestero’s character telling the story of missing persons to promote his book adds nothing to the story either plot wise or emotionally, and feels almost shoe-horned in so to fit Sestero into the film. There are also elements of sci-fi involved in the mystery which confuse the plot for no reason, and take away from the film playing as a straight revenge thriller.


Therefore, whilst not a total disaster - Rick Edwards soulful performance and shades of solid directing by Justin MacGregor prevent it from being so - ‘The Founder Effect’ is a cheap version of a film you’ve seen a hundred times before. Deficient in script, story and sci-fi, it’s a film that plays into every trope in the book, yet, somehow, inexplicably, lacks the emotional punch that those moments offer in so many films of a similar nature.

About the Film Critic
Joe Beck
Joe Beck
Indie Feature Film
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