An investigation into a government cover-up leads to a network of abandoned train tunnels deep beneath the heart of Sydney. As a journalist and her crew hunt for the story it quickly becomes clear the story is hunting them.
The timely story of a normal family disintegrating under financial pressure, eventually driven to the unimaginable. We witness the terrifying events unfold through daughter Judith's video camera, which subsequently becomes Exhibit A.
Searching for a missing student, two private investigators break into his house and find collection of VHS tapes. Viewing the horrific contents of each cassette, they realize there may be dark motives behind the student's disappearance.
When hundreds of videotapes showing torture, murder and dismemberment are found in an abandoned house, they reveal a serial killer's decade-long reign of terror and become the most disturbing collection of evidence homicide detectives have ever seen. Written by
Tribeca Film Festival
Despite the film having been completed and its theatrical trailer attached to several widely-released horror films in 2007, the film never received an official theatrical, DVD, or Blu-ray release. No official explanation was given as to why it was pulled from a theatrical/home-media release at the time. Its first official release didn't occur until seven years later in July 2014, when it became available as a "Video on Demand" title through DirecTV. See more »
When talking about a murder in Reading, Pennsylvania the female news reporter makes a reference to the town of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The reporter pronounces Lancaster as "LAN-CAST-er" but the town (at least this town in Pennsylvania)is properly pronounced as "LANK-aster." See more »
Instead of listing the actors and their respective characters, the credits only have a big "Featuring" section (in alphabetical order) with the names of both the actors and the characters they play. See more »
I've been seeking a resource to watch The Poughkeepsie Tapes since I saw the original trailer in 2008. After that, no word was ever spoken about the film again. I heard of no release, no screenings, and no mainstream DVD. What happened? As of today, at least to me, it's all still a mystery. Finally, I have seen the film in its entirety, and I hesitate not to label it one of the creepiest faux documentaries I have yet to see.
Found footage films are a dime a dozen, with already several released this year alone. They are an easy way to make a buck; shoot a film for no more than roughly five million dollars, and wind up making an explosive profit. It's as easy as that. Very few bring such motivation, confidence, and shining capabilities to screen, but The Poughkeepsie Tapes pleasingly differentiates itself from just another fake piece of work in the sea. Many found footage pictures today occupy a certain cinematic quality about them. Some of them, like the extraordinarily underwhelming Paranormal Activity 3, feel a tad too polished, and because of the extreme popularity of the franchise, seem to have taken a much more Hollywood route. The Poughkeepsie Tapes doesn't do that, and always remains in the field of campiness and believability.
It centers around the humble town of Poughkeepsie, New York, where, after police raid a house in the city, a stash of over eight-hundred VHS tapes of grisly murders committed by a sadistic man behind the camera are found. They are greatly detailed, even with static in the background and color and audio distortion personifying such an effective state of realism that I am without words. I've raved about cinematography and atmosphere in films many, many times before, but here, it is beyond haunting. A work of photography and directorial skill of immense levels.
We are presented with interviews of FBI officials, psychologists, police offers, victims' parents, and more. Every so often, the clips are punctuated by a videotape itself, showing one of the killers' acts of torment or assault. I was hauntingly reminded of August Underground, a dirty, degrading picture that showed two nameless characters running around going on a sick and unjustifiable murdering spree. The Poughkeepsie Tapes occupies more than just mindless snuff, but depth, efficient backstory, and impeccable detail in its photography, execution, and realism.
Some of his first tapes show him praying on the innocuous and the vulnerable. One of those is Jennifer Gorman, an eight year old girl playing in her front yard with her dolls, who is beaten over the head and abducted by the killer. As time goes on, his killings expand to acts that had to have required planning, strategy, along with a touch of crazy. One of the victims we closely identify with goes by the name of Cheryl Dempsey, a teenage girl whom he kidnaps one night while she is alone with her boyfriend. She is abused sexually and physically, being kept in his basement, as well as being referred to as "slave," which he continuously hammers into her head as her new name.
As the film progresses, things become deeper, more intriguing, and inevitably, more and more consuming. Images and sequences increasingly become exceptionally haunting, some of them for some people could be scaring, and many are some of the finest work in the genre from the last decade. John Erik Dowdle has effectively created a brilliant horror gem, one of keen timing and direction, and one of style and detail that doesn't rely solely on loud, abrupt musical chords and cheap exploitative jump scares. It sets itself up to be an involving piece for those seeking one, and allows itself to be discussed long after the credits finish rolling. Stay after if you're interested in seeing one more terrifying shot.
NOTE: For those interested in seeing the film in its entirety, the full film has been posted on Youtube in one convenient part, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NsuTTMiSScc Starring: Bobbi Sue Luther, Samantha Robson, Ivar Brogger, and Iris Bahr. Directed by: John Erik Dowdle.
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