Over the years I have found my watching habits slightly change. Where I use to savour and reap the benefits of the summer blockbuster and high profile releases, the Hollywood machine I tend to find has become a bit of a tick box exercise. Give the audience what they want and they’ll queue round the block for hours. Not saying that every blockbuster is a Xerox copy of a formula but with the endless ‘cinematic universes’ and unnecessary gap fillers ( Looking at you fly boy!), apart from the odd diamond that really puts its head above the crowd, I enjoy watching them but find them very forgettable afterwards.
Over the last year years though, I’ve been finding myself going back and watching the older films that never hit the radar for me growing up and also exploring the independent genre. I can quite honestly say that some of the best films I’ve seen over the years have all been small indie, low budget features. Films like Coherence which absolutely blew me away and considering the film was improvised, that’s a real talent! Another one was the signal with Laurence Fishburne which just came out of nowhere and made my jaw drop. And with the sci-fi and horror genre (my favourites), there are some really good ideas out there in the wild that need to be discovered which leads me to The Fear Footage.
The Fear Footage I found by accident on Instagram. A long time forum Veteran and collector (Discjunkie, look him up) posted a screener Blu-ray of a horror film that he had received. The box was very minimal artwork and the disc was white label and nothing else. He explained that it was a found footage feature which used the genius idea of having a cop’s body cam as the POV. Now I had seen something similar used recently in a horror film called Jeruzalem but it was using the now defunct Google Glass technology. I tried looking online for any more info but there was no IMDB page or Wiki and absolutely nothing else besides a creepy trailer and a mysterious stranger on IG messaging me about letting me watch it (turns out it was the director haha!)
Now I quite enjoy the found footage genre. If it’s done right, it can be very effective. As soon as you hear the words “Dude drop the camera!”, “No! I have to document EVERYTHING!” then it just falls flat on its face so when the filmmakers try and come up with ways to keep it fresh, you have to appreciate the effort.
Anyway, onto the film!
The Fear Footage starts off right from the opening frame. Bodycam in place in the patrol car and the officer being called to a house that has apparently appeared out of nowhere after being demolished over a year ago so it’s got the neighbours spooked. Our officer enters the property (in true 1st person POV like Doom) exploring the area and comes across a TV and VHS player. Inside the VHS player is a cassette called ‘The Fear Footage’. So now what we’re watching is an anthology film using the Police officer as a framing story. I like where this is going! The film has three segments in total. ‘Birthday Party’ opens with a kid who gets a video camera for his birthday. Using it one night he spots a creepy clown outside his house. Running scared to his mother, she tells him he’s imagining it and to go to bed. What follows is a intense home invasion from the creepy clown to it’s shocking conclusion. Apart from the questionable acting in this segment, the jump scares and intensity is spot on. I generally don’t find clowns scary at all but I nearly choked on my dinner from jumping out of my skin on multiple occasions during this. If you do suffer from a fear of clowns, This is literally your worst nightmare!
‘Storm Chasers’ follows two amateur storm chasers one evening. as they are driving through the country, they hit something in the road which turns out to be another person. Frightened and in shock, they are suddenly attacked but a group of masked man who chase them through the forest and into a series of underground storm drains. as they go deeper into the tunnel system, they discover satanic writing on the wall and evidence of rituals. as they try to escape, they discover that something else is down there with them. This one really did shake me up quite a bit. Imagine a bit of As Above So Below turned up to 11. the video camera distortions really added to the already tense atmosphere throughout and the brief glimpses of the entity itself adds to the less is more type of reveal. I can quite honestly say this was my favourite segment. The last segment was
‘Speak No Evil’. This tells the story of a recovering drug addict who has separated from his family because of his drug abuse. Every night, he hears the strange sound of children outside his window. he also reads into the history of the area and discovers that years ago, a church that was close by the house where he is living burnt down in mysterious circumstances. Setting up his video camera to record the strange voices to prove to his family that he isn’t high on drugs and hearing things, he ventures out into the woods to find the source of the voices where he discovered the church has reappeared. This one was certainly creepy and goes straight for the jugular towards the end. that slow build up did build up the intensity towards its jumpy conclusion.
Inbetween each segment, you get a bit more of the Police officer’s story as it goes along which for it’s finale, goes pretty much full on guns blazing with scares and shocks. I’m trying to kinda hold back on revealing too much with this film. Despite some questionable acting and a few moments where you quite quite figure out why a certain character has made a certain decision, The Fear Footage is designed to be a rollercoaster of scares and it does it VERY well! Even the director said in conversation that they’re goal with the movie was to scare people out of their mind and personally, I think the director does a superb job for such a low budget independent movie, keeping off the radar for people to discover at such an early stage of the film, and with the same malevolent atmosphere as Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity, The Fear Footage will have people talking in years to come.