Overlooked Film of the Week-#26
The Pourkeepsie Tapes
I know I may sound like I am eating my words, because with my October theme, I am reviewing another found footage film for my OFW post this week.
I think every genre, no matter what I think about it, has good examples and bad. I think there are vast examples of what allows those genres to flourish. I'll be the first to tell you how annoyed I am with the unnecessary wealth of found footage films we get littered with every year. However, I will also be the first to tell you that there are great examples in this sub-genre. "The Pourkeespie Tapes," is not only a great found footage movie, a mythic addition to the sub-genre, but it is also one of the most notorious motion pictures ever committed to film.
First of all, the film was never officially released. Anywhere. It was a clear case of dumb luck that I got to view this film in the first place. I am glad I did, this is a chilling horror film that affected me on a very primal level. This is a found footage example where some people who viewed believe what they see is real. Yes,there are people in the world who are convinced that The Waterstreet Butcher is a real person. That is true power created by a filmmaker. This film was shown at a film festival around its initial creation, and people who openly hostile toward the festival programmer for selling this as a real documentary, when it was always a found footage film.
The film tells its story about the Waterstreet Butcher, a serial killer who created 800 VHS recordings of his various kidnappings, murders, tortures and mutilations. The film chronicles how the killer first fell into the authorities radar, his various random killings, how he framed someone and he continued to murder with ease. Another one of the film's major plotlines is the abduction and torment of Cheryl Dempsey, who became the Butcher's slave for an unsaid amount of time. The end of her story arc is both heartbreaking and disturbing as Stockholm Syndrome kicks in.
The acting is great. I wish I could site some actors but since this film has never had an official release, no actors are really listed anywhere. Too bad, everyone involved in this project deserve to credited for their roles. What makes "The Pourkeepsie Tapes" so great is how realy the VHS work is. This feels like real footage, this feels like a real documentary. Most found footage films try to do this, most rarely succeed. The look of the film is unbelievably authentic, no wonder people have been falling for this one for years.
What makes this most effective for me is the fear it taps into. Films like "The Exorcist" and "The Sixth Sense" are scary, no doubt about it. But the suspension of disbelief needed to buy those films makes the experience less to me. Nothing is scary about monsters and ghosts because those things don't exist. But psychos do exist, there are have been many famous serial killers who were never found. That scares me quite a bit, nothing scarier in the world to me than human nature. This film works because it is stocked with the darkest corners of human nature.