Movie Review: The Fear Footage

A bit ago I was contacted and asked to review The Fear Footage. After looking into the film and hearing all the rave reviews, I had to check it out. You know that I’m always searching for True Fear, and according to those that have seen it, this movie has it. Soon after I received my copy of the film in the mail. Honestly, I was happy dancing around my house because I was ready to be scared. Unfortunately, maybe hearing the reviews first wasn’t the best idea.

Breaking it Down:

When the Darkbluff, Maryland sheriff’s department receives a confusing 9-1-1 call about a house, they send out Leo Cole to investigate. Supposedly, the house was torn down after a tragedy, but strangely enough, it showed back up.

Once there, Deputy Cole begins searching the area around the house but sees nothing out of the blue, yanno, except for the house! He then decides to make his way inside and is met with a dark quiet house. However, when the television in the living room turns on by itself, he decides to check out the tape inside the VCR. He then sits through three short home movies called, Birthday Party, Storm Stalkers, and See No Evil. After each movie, he takes a break to search the house.

Unfortunately for Deputy Cole, his chances of surviving the night dwindled with ever second he stayed in that house.

Thoughts:

I want to be very clear here, I didn’t hate The Fear Footage, but I didn’t really like it either. Honestly, one major issue was that it in no way lived up to the ridiculous reviews they have posted on their page. You can check out those reviews on their Instagram page or their website.

When I watched this movie for the first time, I wanted it to be perfect. I silenced my phone, turned the lights off, and grabbed my boyfriend who gets scared at everything. I thought that maybe having a movie buddy would be a great idea, and on top of that, if he got scared maybe it would scare me too! But that just didn’t happen.

Let’s start with some stuff I loved about this film.

The presentation of the DVD was perfection! I was already super excited when it showed up at my house, but then to see all the hard work they put into the presentation of it, I got way more excited.

I loved that this film plays on our fear of the unknown. We don’t know what’s going on, what Deputy Cole is facing, and what could be hiding in the dark. It makes the film that much creepier.

Here are some things I loved about each of the short films in The Fear Footage.

Birthday Party: The idea for the story was perfection. It brought clowns back to the forefront of our fears and had him invading our safe spaces.

Storm Stalkers: This one was my favorite. I loved the scene when everything hit the fan. A simple question kicks this short into high gear, “What road are we on?” And the big reveal of the antagonist was very well done. I loved seeing how creepy it was.

Speak No Evil: I really only loved the antagonist of this short. He had such a great look.

Sadly, I had a whole bunch of don’t likes for these shorts.

Birthday Party: I don’t know what time period this is supposed to be but this kid has a modern hair cut and is playing old school Nintendo. Huh? Seeing the Nintendo, I instantly assume this is supposed to be the 90’s but then the kid has a Texas Chainsaw Massacre tin lunch box on a shelf that is being sold at target now. So, I’m still confused. His mother says goodnight to him and then says, “No more nightmares!” What? Bitch, do you think he controls this shit? Go to bed lady! Lastly, and by far the worst part about this short was the rain. They digitally put in rain, badly. At one point, the main kid was looking out the window and you can see the “rain” is just over everything, meaning it was raining inside? I don’t understand why they went with that.

Storm Stalkers: Yes, this was my favorite short story out of all of them, but that’s mainly for the story concept and a little bit of the dialog. However, in an attempt to make this short look like an old VHS tape, they did these loud glitching sounds throughout the film, which I just hated! It didn’t make it creepy, it was just annoying. Then, it appeared they were trying to make this story live up to The Blair Witch Project, which it did not. If you listen to when someone is screaming, “James!” over and over again, it is almost exactly like The Blair Witch “Mike” screams.

Speak No Evil: Honestly, I fully hated this story. It was almost entirely based on jump scares, that weren’t even properly placed, and the dialog was a joke. At some point, the protagonist gets a phone call (another jump scare) from his girl who is asking if their daughter left her “favorite doll” at his house, to which he gets up, grabs it and says yes, it’s right here. People, it’s a cheap naked baby doll. While, it’s not impossible for this to be his daughter’s “favorite doll” I feel like it’s not. Maybe if it was wearing a little outfit or something, but this is exactly what it looked like.

I believe that doll is called a NOPE! Otherwise known as a Kill It With Fire!

How about we focus on the Deputy’s story:

Sadly, it wasn’t good. I do appreciate all the work that was put into The Fear Footage, and I understand that being an indie film, it’s lower budget, but there was so much that didn’t make sense. There are so many questions that I had during this film, and I wouldn’t even be able to discuss it all here. So allow me to just list them for you.

Why did the 9-1-1 call bleep out the caller’s name? If we are watching the raw footage, we would hear that, right?

Deputy Cole didn’t talk to the man who called 9-1-1?

He doesn’t call for backup before going into the house?

Why did the Cole pull his gun right away?

When investigating a suspicious house, why would Cole stop to read a little girl’s diary?

The diary states that there is something horrible in one of the closets, why doesn’t he go check the closets?

Cole is so worried about there being someone in the house that he continues his search, and then stops to play with a piano? What? Why?

With the continued fear that someone is in the house, Cole heads up stairs and watches another home movie? What’s wrong with this guy?

No horror movie should leave you with that many questions. Maybe they were trying a bit too hard to be like the other found footage films out there that really brought it. I’m not sure, but I just know that there was a ball and it was dropped pretty hard.

True Fear?

Oh, no. Goodness, no. Jump scares don’t make a horror movie, and it seems like the creator of this film didn’t get that memo. While there were some moments that were cool to see, it didn’t make for True Fear. I watched The Fear Footage twice, once in a fully dark room with my boyfriend and the second time I watched it alone. Neither time left me scared. I still sleep with the lights out, I have no trouble walking through my house at night, and my dreams still consist of love scenes between me and Freddy Krueger, so pretty normal!

Horror – What’s Your Point?

Today we are doing things a little different with our first real article.

Have you ever read a book or watched a movie and felt that build up towards figuring out who the killer was and why they were doing it, only to be let down by them having no purpose? Me too! It almost feels like the writer couldn’t think of a good enough reason for the killing spree so they robbed us of the big reveal. You may have noticed in many of my reviews that I talk about the why behind the killings. That’s because understanding the reasoning behind the antagonist is very important.

Every killer needs, and normally has, a reason. That goes for real life as well as the horror genre. It might seem senseless but in the killer’s mind, it means something. We don’t have to like it or agree with it, but that reason will always be there.

Let’s look at some highly successful horror movies. A Nightmare on Elm Street has Freddy Krueger bouncing from dream to dream slaughtering kids. This movie freaked me the fuck out when I was younger because I didn’t understand why he was doing it and he seemed unstoppable. It wasn’t until I was older that I understood what was going on. In life, Freddy was a pedophile who would kill his victims. When the parents of the neighborhood found out about him, they rallied together and burned him to death. After that he came back and began targeting their children. You killed me first, isn’t the best reason, but at least it’s a reason. The same thing goes for Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers, they might not have the best reason to kill, but they each have a reason.

Out of the three of them, I think I like Michael Myers’ reasoning the best. His killing spree is based on a childhood trauma. This seems like a very realistic reason that someone would turn to murder. Don’t get me wrong, Jason Voorhees suffered childhood trauma as well, but he is a spirit that has returned, much like Freddy, and Michael is more of a psychologically damaged human. This realistic purpose creates more fear than the other stories.

Those reasons drive the killers to continue doing what they do best. It’s that drive or passion to fight for their personal cause that makes the killer that much scarier. Some other great movies that show purpose are You’re Next, Raw, Scream, and Carrie. Honestly, I could go on forever, but I have to stop somewhere!

There are many movies that lack a reason and because of that they become a disappointment. This isn’t to say that these movies were unsuccessful. But it’s like buying a really pretty balloon but refusing to fill it up with air. While it’s a nice balloon, it would be better with the air in it.

One movie I always complain about is The Strangers. This was a very popular movie, and one that I was very excited to see. However, it lacked a meaning, which just made me hate it in the end. I spent the whole movie freaking out and wondering why these people were being attacked like this, but in the end we are told, “Because you were home.” What a complete let down. Considering what these two people had to suffer, we should be given a better reason than that. That sad part is, ten years later The Strangers: Prey at Night was released and I refuse to watch it due to the horrible reasoning in the first one.

This same thing happened with a Netflix Original movie called The Open House. The story seemed amazing, but it was almost the same thing. The killer had no reason. We need to understand why these people are being tortured. Without that reason, a movie is ruined.

It’s important to understand that the reasoning doesn’t have to be major or talked about in a bunch of detail and it doesn’t even have to make a bunch of sense. However, it is important for the viewers to understand that there is something driving the characters, both protagonist and antagonist. We need to feel a sense of urgency from both parties or we will lose interest.

The Strangers could have been fixed just by giving the viewers a little insight into the killer’s background. For instance, they could have showed one of the killers being pushed around by the other two. This could have taken only a few seconds and it could be telling us that the one is only there because they are trying to fit in with the others or maybe they are family and they are just following orders. We don’t need a lot of details, but we do need something.

All I’m asking for is enough care to be put into the antagonist, so that we can understand why they kill. We need to feel their anger or pain or joy. That’s where the True Fear hides. That reasoning is what can make or break a movie, but without it, it’s instantly broken. A good horror movie will give us a reason, a great horror movie will give a reason without boring us with too many details.