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What a surprise this little gem is! This horror film is gripping as is unfolds and parses out the town's secret piece by piece. The setting is a old house in a small suburban town of Camden, NJ, (which is in the shadow of Philadelphia, Pa). Living in a Rutgers-Camden off campus housing apartment in Collingswood, NJ, Rebecca keeps in touch with her out of state boyfriend using her computer laptop and a internet web phone. Kudos to the kids for being so tech savvy. Online they stumble across a horrific secret about the town. Things go downhill from there. I know this town, and while the story is a fiction, the town does have history. Even though the town borough incorporated in 1888 at the breakup of Newton Township, the area was first settled by Europeans in the 1680s. Crows Park is actually Knights Park, and Haddon Avenue and Lees Lane do exist! The movie is unrated, but I would consider it PG. There are pretty intense scary scenes. Not suitable for children under 13. Great Halloween movie in the dorms.
The proof that you REALLY don't need all those millions to make good
entertainment. This low budget gem has it all. A clever script, believable
characters, a very good background story and it is fast paced enough for no
one to lose interest in it along the way.
If you liked Blair Witch (and you will be comparing this one with it more than once) you will love The Collingswood Story.
Those big-shot moviemakers in Hollywood have a LOT to learn with Michael Constanza.
Don't miss it!
This is my first time writing on the IMDb and I can't think of a better film to rave about. I don't intend to give the synopsis, because it's been done well enough already. I would just rather explain why I have such a high opinion of it. Something about this story intrigued me so I took a chance and ordered the DVD two years ago. It was one of the wiser things I have done. On the surface, this movie is a rather subdued (until the last 10 minutes) back and forth dialog. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against a lot of talk as long as it's worth listening to, and maybe at first it may seem as if some of this talk is not. However, Mike Costanza really knows how to pull the strings. Below the surface there is a real tight woven story here and it delivers. This is creepiness on a small scale and I really wish I could find more movies like it. This gem has terrific acting and some real eerie subliminal type images, ala The "Excorcist". One part where a face appears on a wall as the scene fades out, left me wondering if I had imagined it, because I missed it the first time. The sets are true to life and you feel as if you are being invited into the whole thing as a third party. John and Rebecca are likable and after a few viewings you feel a part of their story. It's not easy to catch everything that Mike Costanza is trying to throw at you in one viewing, at least it was not for me. But after seeing it again I had a much greater appreciation for his style and effort. The ending is very satisfying but leaves you wanting more, which really is a compliment. If the word is true, that Anchor Bay intends to release this, than be watchful and grab it. For you who have yet to see it, pay very close attention when the chance arises. Watch and listen as well as you can, because there is a whole heck of a lot of story going on underneath. This really is the type of movie best viewed at night in a very quiet setting. I would love to have my friend show this at his show The Monster Mania Con. The con is only down the road from Collingswood, NJ. Good luck in finding it, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When I went to see this at the 2005 Frightfest film festival in London,
it was noted that it had been compared to The Blair Witch Project.
Certainly the low budget feel and final act draw comparisons, but this
piece can stand alone on its own merits.
Without exposition it opens the way it means to go on, cutting between webcam participants engaged in day to day conversation. The subjects veer from the personal to the banal, but even when not setting up the scene the stylised fashion of having the actors speak directly to the cameras is a masterstroke that builds up a sense of intimacy and involvement that would never appear if it were regularly filmed. When the situation goes into distinctly darker waters this makes the viewer feel enmeshed in the danger rather than just being a casual observer.
Whilst at first it seems a little fluffy or a little slow, the use of subliminal cuts, distorted footage and strange ambient noises brings up the tension and the webcam view turns from seemingly a gimmick to deliberately restricting what you can and can't see. At the screening at Frightfest, the tension during the final twenty-five minutes or so was palpable and the stunned silence between the credits coming up and the applause was testament to the effectiveness of the film. Despite a virtually non-existent budget and few actors, the film has the power to shock.
I found out about THE COLLINGSWOOD STORY online, and decided to drop the $20
bones to see what all the fuss was about. And I am thrilled that I did.
Sometimes those chances blow up in your face, and sometimes you get lucky,
come across a hidden gem. Like this one. I was blown away, I kid you not. Oh
yeah, sure, it will inevitably get comparisons made to The Blair Witch
Project or The Last Broadcast. And as much as I initially enjoyed Blair
Witch, after subsequent viewings of The Collingswood Story, I absentmindedly
scratch my head and ask, "Blair WHO??".
The story is told completely through the lenses of webcams. Its very voyeuristic, almost intrusive, the way the story plays out. It gets going early, introducing the viewer to the lead actor and actress (great job of casting, and excellently acted!) who use webcams to communicate with one another while she attends college. After an online consultation with a psycic, strange coincidences unfold between our protaganists, and suddenly the viewer is caught up in a supernatural storyline that, if filmed any other way, would not have been quite as effective.
BRAVO, Mr. Costanza, bravo! The director, Mike Costanza, really shows and proves that a big budget and big name stars is NOT necessary to tell a good story. This micro-budgeted effort is above and beyond anything the major studios have released in the past seven, eight years. It truly defies its low budget origin, thanks to Mr. Costanza's writing, and the abilities of the films stars to convincingly play out their parts. Put this one on late at night, turn off the lights, and prepare to be shocked, surprised, and scared! A solid 9 out of 10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I first read about The Collingswood Story when reading a review about another movie I was interested in. The reviewer mentioned this movie so I read up about it and ordered the DVD. I've just finished watching it for the first time and I have goosebumps! This is a great film. First of all if you like movies with high body counts, lots of special effects, lots of gore and a quick pace this movie is NOT for you. I like those kinds of horror movies but I find horror films like this - slow paced, not giving everything away, leaving things to the imagination - far more effective and scary. The way the film is shot through the webcams is a little strange at first but you soon get used to it. The acting is excellent, the characters are likable and even though not much happens during the first hour of the film I never once found it boring. If anything I would have liked more of a build up. The story is interesting and that toy is so creepy (if you've seen it you know what I mean!). The last part of the film while Rebecca is in the attic is very intense and what happens to John made me go cold. The only reasons I haven't given 10 out of 10 is because the sound quality isn't great. I had to have the volume right up at parts so I could hear although this maybe a fault of the DVD. Also even though I like open ended films I did find the ending a little too ambiguous and it would have been nice to have Rebecca's fate and motivations made a bit clearer. But I think a huge well done is in order to everyone involved and if you like films like The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity I highly recommend this. It just goes to show if you have talent you don't need a huge budget and big star names, you can make a great film with what you have. Personally I wish more horror movies were like this and not all remakes and full of CGI gore and big breasted bimbos. I will gladly be keeping The Collingswood Story and adding it to my collection.
When Rebecca went away to college John thought web-cams would help them keep
in touch. But idle curiosity leads to a dark secret when they cam with Vera
Madeline, an online psychic, who initiates a deadly reign of terror over
their lives. When Rebecca goes to go to college in Collingswood, her
boyfriend John buys> her with a web-cam to help the two of them keep in
touch. After John uses the web-cam to wish her a happy birthday John points
Rebecca in the direction of some other people she can start talking to and
she soon starts using the web-cam. Eventually Rebecca starts talking to Vera
Madeline, an online psychic, and an extremely creepy scene follows. John
gets in touch with Vera and finds out more than Rebecca, Vera explains that
the house Rebecca is currently living in was used in the 1800's as the
headquarters for an underground cult who practised human sacrifices. And
before we ruin one of the best endings I have ever seen in a horror movie,
the final 30 minutes made my heart pound, I am stopping the review here.
The strong direction from Mike Costanza is evident from the first moment right through to the final creepy moments. The cast especially Stephanie Dees and Johnny Burton turn in very good and believable roles, I found myself looking out for them, which is certainly something I have not done since the Blair Witch Project.
I would put The Collingswood Story down as the best independent horror movie of the year, The Collingswood Story was original, something that is very rare in the horror genre today, frightening and downright excellent. Lets hope Mike Costanza gets the credit he deserves for this outstanding movie.
'The Collingswood Story' has got a lot in common with the Found Footage
genre, with one little difference, it's not based on found footage but
it's based on webcam and video message conversations. Still, it has
that same kind of intimacy and gives it the sense of 'being real', with
us, viewers, as the witnesses. It's really a nice concept, and one I
had not seen before in the way it was used in 'The Collingswood Story'.
It's quite a simple set-up but I liked it all the way.
So what is it about? We have boyfriend and girlfriend John and Rebecca, Rebecca recently moved to Collingswood for college. They are an 8 hours drive apart and have contact through a webcam. It's Rebecca's birthday, and Johnny surprises her with all kinds of amusing webcam nutters. The last one she visits is a psychic. When the psychic tells her that something is just not right, Johnny also contacts the psychic who tells him that Rebecca has to be careful because of the troubled past of Collingswood. Being slightly unsettled, he surfs a bit around on the net to find out that the psychic's story is based on truth, Collingswood had a history of a satanic cult and the house Rebecca lived in was once the scene of some grisly family murders. Though Rebecca is initially freaked-out, she later decides that the psychic is just playing tricks on people. Johnny on the contrary is worrying more and more.
We see the whole story evolve through the webcam contact (Rebecca bought herself a cable allowing her to take her laptop through the whole house), video messages she sends Johnny and the sites Johnny visits online.
The movie is slow paced, but it has more of a story in it than meets the impatient eye. If you for example take the time to read the websites Johnny visits, the story gets more body. So do use that pause-button on your remote control. What I like about that concept is that it gives the movie an even more intimate feeling, as you are researching sort of together with John.
Both actors did a good job, especially considering that they both lack acting experience. I found them totally believable and really natural in their roles. Both are pleasant to look at too. The psychic and John's friend Billy lacked that believability for me, but well, you can't have it all.
The bad is that the story could have been more tensed, and more could have been done with the endings. It left me with a slightly unsatisfied feeling, though I did like the fact that I really didn't see it coming. Still, it could have been done better. At the same time, the movie did hold me at the edge of my seat and I never found it boring.
All in all, TCS definitely has it flaws but at the same time it makes use of an interesting concept, it has more in it for those who pay attention, the acting is good and the end is unexpected. It's nice to see what can be done with a low budget and a creative mind.
It was a movie worth my time.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I picked up The Collingswood Story after another user on the Horror
Board had suggested that it was a good one to watch and had some
similarities to The Blair Witch Project, which I really enjoyed a lot.
I won't attempt to provide a synopsis of the plot here, since it is
readily available in a few of the other comments here, except to say
that it is the story of a guy and his long distance girlfriend living
in a town with a dark history and that a large portion of the film
consists of their on line web cam conversations.
This movie has been compared to The Blair Witch Project and there are some similarities-the first person point of view as the characters film themselves (this time on web cam instead of film), the slow build where "nothing happens" to a fairly climactic ending, a relatively few numbers of characters, a low budget and a supernatural air about the whole thing.
I liked the use of modern communication technology as it gives a bit of a fresh look at things. The acting was also generally good, and there was a definite, fairly successful, attempt to create a sinister and eerie atmosphere, to which the use of the web cams and their limited view of things contributed. Really, I have only two criticisms of this one. First, it seemed a little too similar to the Blair Witch Project, and though there were some new spins on the story and it is in a different setting, it just didn't catch my attention as a hugely original story. But that's not a big problem (most stories are in some respects telling of older tales). The second criticism I have, which for me is the larger problem, is pacing. While I can appreciate a slow build up in a movie, this one just seemed to me to drag on quite a bit. While a slower pace is warranted here for the creation of atmosphere and the build to the climax, this one was just a little too slow early on.
Others have criticized the ending, but I won't. It was a bit unexpected, but I haven't yet decided whether I liked it or not. Overall though, this was a decent movie, which is worth a watch.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Spoilers lie ahead. Proceed at your own risk...
This independent, very low budget film looks hopeful but does not deliver the goods. I simply don't understand how people can praise this flick to the skies. Did they watch the ending? It makes no sense at all. The movie is slow and deliberate in the building of mood, atmosphere, and suspense. In fact it's almost a bit too slow. The last scene is highly unexpected (nobody would guess what happens because it comes out of nowhere), but it makes the entire ninety minutes you've been watching make absolutely no sense. I hate stuff like that. It's a slap in the face to the audience. When I rented Haute Tension, which seemed like a really cool and gory throwback to 1970's horror, I was furious at the ridiculous "twist" that was thrown in during the the third act. What a cheap and stupid thing to do. What an insult to the audience. I feel the same way about The Collingswood Story. Another dumb twist that makes the entire plot lose sense of any kind. The girl Rebecca is in danger from this secret, evil cult; but in the end it is not she who is the victim. So, if her former boyfriend is the actual victim, what does that say about the whole plot? So she was in the cult all along and they were all planning this extravagant ruse to kill him? There are more plot holes here than in the Star Wars movies!
Also, this film is not shy about copying technique used in The Blair Witch Project. It's a shameless copycat, especially in the attic sequence. And the whole webcam device makes the film feel weighted down, like we're tethered to the main characters. I don't mind claustrophobic films like The Shining, but this felt like I was trapped in a computer monitor for an hour and a half. I know that this gimmick made the film extremely inexpensive to shoot (hardly any location shots or intricate cinematography). But a little goes a long way.
The film tries very hard to be atmospheric and suspenseful. After watching it alone in the dark I wasn't bothered in the slightest; it just wasn't scary... but I realize that sometimes that is subjective and personal. I like horror that builds momentum slowly, like Alien, The Others, The Changeling, The Haunting, and The Shining. These are films that take their sweet time, and slowly and delicately wrap their icy fingers around your neck. But The Collingswood Story just fails.
I must admit that I liked the fact that there was no blatant gore (sometimes I just want a scare and not a bloodbath) during the majority of this movie. And there were no cheap "jump" scares that are so prevalent in horror films today. But I just cannot endorse or recommend this movie because the ending sabotages everything. It almost seems like they had everything written (or even shot) up to the end scene, and then someone thought of John being the prey instead of Rebecca. Why??? It's one of the dumbest endings I've seen. But I have a feeling the filmmakers thought it was really a really awesome twist, even though it cancels the entire plot.
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