Ryan Vincent Logsdon’s debut film AGONi premiered at the Slaughter In Syracuse film festival last month, and it was met with great applause. The movie, simplistic but violent in nature, tells the story of “impulse murderer” Maxwell Edison, who is showing us his world in a first-person view as he carries around his camera, giving us a glimpse into the character’s life.
Told in a found footage narrative, (the film is showing previous events; the footage now in the hands of the Agoni County District Attorney’s Office) AGONi is a slow-burn in every sense of the word. Whereas some films of this nature, though, leave you hanging, AGONi has a final scene that is a beautiful payoff of carnage. The last 10-15 minutes are perfect and violent, and plays up the film’s mantra of “It’s better when they’re dead.”
The film is purposely shot to look as low-end as possible, because the look is part of the story and the camera is a character. We’re supposed to be looking down the lens of this blood-stained camera, and in essence, the audience is the killer. We’re the ones who get to lie in wait, watch, and torture. It’s something that may not settle well with some, but plays out very well for those who have the patience to wait.
Minimal dialog throughout the early stages of the film make the visuals all that much more important. What we’re seeing is what Edison is seeing and doing; the film feels like it has been pieced together by someone in the DA’s office, perhaps to be shown to a jury. Although a bit dry to start, the film begins to pick up once Edison begins a new relationship, as unhealthy as one could ever be.
For a first time filmmaker, Logsdon shows that he has an eye for directing – from a technical standpoint, the movie has minimal flaws. Even the darkest scenes are easily visible, and the story itself has a full arc – something many found footage films neglect to have. Pacing, as I mentioned, is a bit slow to start, but works well anyway, and the decay and deterioration of many of the early scenes is shot beautifully.
AGONi has a real dirty, dark feel that compares easily to films like The Poughkeepsie Tapes, another movie about disquieting images left behind by a deranged killer, but yet easily stands out in a sub-genre that has become flooded over the years by poor copycats of ghost and Blair Witch-style films. Logsdon may be a new filmmaker, but he’s definitely started off his career on the right foot.