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This film goes to proof how a movie about killing, torturing and mutilating people in fact can be boring when there are no brains behind it. Graphic descriptions and exaggerated sickness is far from enough for a horror to be scary. This movie constantly tries to convince me that I am scared and repulsed by repeating how sick and disturbing it is. But I do not want a movie to tell me I am disturbed, I want to feel it myself. This is another example of how sometimes the attempt to make the story seem real actually has the opposite effect it is so unrealistically exaggerated that you start doubting in everything it claims. Mockumentary worked for The Blair Witch Project and Rec (of course the Spanish one) but it's getting really old and obviously does not always have the desired effect. I was constantly asking myself what is the point of this picture? Is it to make me aware that there are a lot of serial killers in the USA? Is it to show me how to make a homemade snuff or that if I plan carefully and change my M.O., I can kill as long as I want? I can tolerate pure entertainment if it is nicely done. This movie is not and therefore is completely worthless.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Well paced, but it reminds me of some real-crime US documentaries from
the '70s, so not an original.
It is unpleasant, but no jump scares and no tension. So it's not a horror either - although there is a disturbing murder at 1:09.
The interviews to camera aren't convincing - I guess that's difficult to get right, to balance script and improv with good editing.
The two main characters are interesting. I think they showed too much of the killer in his mask and ruff - gave the impression of a dramatic bloviator, which ruined the deliberate mystery for me. The interview with Cheryl was a chance to make a great story, to show how she was in love yet doomed, show us the real killer. But it was just a bit sad.
The decision to use "authentic" '80s sound & vid quality for the first half was a bad call - although it had some effect, I found it irritating. The soundtrack relies on discord at scary moments, elsewhere a soft xylophone rhythm.
Well worth a watch, but it me no horror makey.
I was first introduced to John Carpenter's "Halloween" at an early age
and have been an avid horror fan ever since. 20+ years later, horror
films are still a constant among my viewing habits. However, most films
in the genre have become predictable, repetitive, and anything but what
they are intended to be: scary. The found footage style is especially
clichéd, which lowered my expectations for this movie further still.
Needless to say, this film absolutely shattered all of these
"The Poughkeepsie Tapes" is an unrelenting, voyeuristic look into the world of a depraved and very successful serial killer using the "hand cam" and documentary style to an absurdly unsettling degree. The presentation, cinematography, acting, audio, costumes, pacing... essentially every portion of this film is chilling. This film never saw a cinematic release (despite a trailer displayed during "The Mist") and even more baffling, isn't available on DVD. This only adds to the mystique of the film, of course. The degree of realism is uncanny and was achieved without the pretentious "based on a true story" tagline.
Without giving anything away, Stacy Chbosky gives an absolutely haunting performance as victim Cheryl Dempsey despite a small amount of screen time. In fact, everyone from the realtor at the beginning to the authority figures "interviewed" throughout the film are incredibly convincing. Not only is this a must-see for horror fans, this film is a testament to the fact that you do not need "A-list" actors, bloated budgets, or absurd amounts of computerized effects to make a compelling film. "The Poughkeepsie Tapes" is a frightening film experience and will, no doubt, leave a lasting impression on even the most season horror movie veterans.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Like many people have mentioned before me, I remember seeing this
trailer before some major release and being shocked that it was being
released to the general public like that. I had been following it a bit
on some of the horror websites and was intrigued; I suppose that's why
I hadn't forgotten it after all these years. I had some time to kill
today and decided to watch it and I was rather pleasantly surprised by
Not to say that The Poughkeepsie Tapes is "entertaining" - it's obviously a dark and unpleasant movie, and its structure means that we have no clear resolutions or "victim turning the tables" moment of catharsis to give the audience something to cheer for or even a deep understanding of killer and victims because we've only got those snippets of the tapes from which we get our information. Parts were also incredibly frustrating, especially if you like your stories to have a beginning, a middle, and an end.
What worked for me was how there were some very clever parts and the killer was interesting even without the audience getting to really know him or see him. You had to be quiet and follow along with all of the tapes and the talking heads in the interviews or you'd miss some things, and I liked the way I wasn't beaten over the head with plot points. Plus, the scene with the killer entering the room with the "car trouble" lady was one hell of a disturbing image. I get that The Poughkeepsie Tapes won't be everyone's cup of tea, but if you can get past its flaws, you might find some worthwhile moments.
Part of the found footage explosion that's been rapidly gaining
strength since Blair Witch Project, the Poughkeepsie Tapes is a rather
brutal, joyless film that has achieved a reputation for its vile,
disturbing content. Essentially, it's a combination of two genres: the
aforementioned found footage genre, and the pseudo-snuff genre, an
offshoot of "found footage" that attempts to emulate the style and
content of what a real snuff film would theoretically present.
Both genres had already run their course by the time of Poughkeepsie's release (especially pseudo-snuff, which didn't have a course to run from its onset), and as such, it doesn't really offer anything different from other hardcore horror entries. Most of the originality comes from its frame story, which is a Dateline-esque documentary on a serial killer in the Poughkeepsie area interspersed with footage the killer shot while torturing or kidnapping his victims. Any semblance of a story would revolve around the police's investigation of the killings (which doesn't really go anywhere until near the end of the movie) and the fate of one of his victims, a young woman who was kept as a sex slave.
Like all pseudo-snuff films, the film's sole intention is to disturb the viewer, which it succeeds on some levels; the killer's footage is brutal, fairly realistic, and does emulate the footage of real life serial killers rather well. It survives on psychological torture, refrains from excess gore which would shatter the illusion of realism, and so perverse as to keep the viewer's attention. Lacking a plot, however, the "found footage" wouldn't be enough to sustain itself as a movie (to which August Underground is a testament).
To fill the void, the "Dateline" scenario is presented, which fails miserably from bad acting, melodramatic presentation, and a conscious awareness that the investigators seem to be the most incompetent group of crime fighters ever assembled. Why would hacksaw patterns be the sole determining factor to keep a medical investigator from connecting the murders? Why is one FBI agent the only person to have viewed all of the footage? Such scenarios, and more, are presented in an attempt to sound well researched and credible, but mostly manages to fall flat on its face.
Nonetheless, it does hold onto some sense of flow and progression, which at least makes the movie watchable in between the (mostly) non-progressing scenes of carnage. Even so, the most curious part of the film is the fate of the killer's kidnapped sex slave, whose story is mostly depicted through the found footage. What surrounds that is hackneyed, albeit brutal and disturbing, footage that presents nothing new to extreme horror enthusiasts. For the uninitiated, however, this will be the most brutal film you'll see until you reach the age of 14, I'm sure.
I love horror films or anything with blood and guts but they made this film look real as possible and the story is nuts and the ending with his slave makes it even crazier....if you like sick or creepy films then yea watch this because it will leave you in aw....i read the reviews and some girl said the same type of stuff as me and she said even days after watching this film she kept thinking about it and i would agree I'm going to have this film on my mind for days....i need to get drunk to forget about how this type of stuff really goes on...so yea i need 10 lines to post this thats why I'm dragging it on this looonnnggg lol
The Poughkeepsie Tapes is a part mockumentary, part found footage film
about the tracking of a serial killer, and the footage they found from
I gave this this film a rather average 6 out of 10; although in terms of the genre, it is probably better than most out there. For me, the mockumentary elements surpassed the quality and interest of the found footage parts - the acting and scripting of the talking heads were of good quality, believable and added depth and intrigue to the plot.
However, I was expecting more horror from the 'found footage' elements of the film. While they were sinister and gory in part, they seemed to lack horror and suspense - especially as we are sold the story that the recording was a pivotal and essential element of his crime and motivation.
For me the highlight was the mockumentary interviews in the final scenes - they were well acted and scripted, and very genuine. The closing scene were also very good (and while not exactly a twist due to it being somewhat predictable) it was a very good conclusion, leaving the viewer with questions but still drawing the film to a close well.
Definitely worth a view if the genre is of interest to you - although if mockumentaries and FF are not of interest to you, you would probably be better off giving this a miss.
I saw The Poughkeepsie Tapes on Youtube as the film is virtually
impossible to find on DVD, thus the experience might've been slightly
marred by the sub-par quality, especially as the film itself is
constructed to look like an old camcorder. My feelings towards it are
very mixed. Did the film scare me? Yes, it absolutely did. I didn't
think that it would and I kept lying to myself that it wasn't scary,
when in fact I was actually quite scared and I don't scare too easily.
Yes, I watched it on my own in the middle of the night, but I do that
with lots of horror films and they never usually scare me. When it was
over as soon as I moved I chills crept up my spine and I kept thinking
about it. It certainly disturbed me and got under my skin which is a
good thing. There are some very, very effective scenes. In particular,
the crawling scene which is exceptionally well done and the interview
with Cheryl is very unsettling. I also loved the masks, they were
really creepy, especially Cheryl's female Michael Myers mask.
However, was this film good? No, not overly. The first thing that struck me was the acting by the FBI people etc. they were very wooden which took the realism out of the film. They also had some very contrived lines to say such as, "My wife watched half an hour of the tapes and she couldn't touch me for a year." and, "If this gets to theatres, the killer will be watching regularly." This dialogue to me seemed like an over the top attempt to scare the audience, but it actually treats them like morons because we know it's not real and we know that the killer is not sitting next to us in the cinema... Mainly because the film didn't even reach cinemas which is actually a shame because it's still a lot better than a lot of films on currently.
There were also quite a few dull moments and little to no plot development. I know that it's supposed to be a mockumentary but there needs to be more to it than just watching a killer do sick things to people. Although a lot of the tapes did have some disturbing moments, like him talking to kids etc. this didn't really add much to the film. One of the more interesting and disturbing ideas was unfortunately glossed over, which was the killer's bizarre balloon fetish. There weren't enough insights like this to help us get to know the killer and I think this is important for a film focusing on a serial killer and is one reason why Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is so effective. However, the music was well done and unsettling, although sometimes the tapes could've been creepier without the music because it takes the realism away. Also, sometimes it was impossible to see what was going on thanks to the wobbly, washed-out image.
So all in all, it was an OK experience. I wasn't exactly bored, but it definitely needed more padding out. The directors' clearly have a lot of potential because they can craft some truly terrifying sequences, there just aren't really enough of them. There needs to be more to a film other than it just being scary, otherwise it just turns out dull, even though it did do scary very well. I liked how it was able to get under your skin and not rely on jump scares. It also surprisingly, didn't have much blood and gore, which I find impressive. I'd like to see a European or Asian remake (even though that would never happen) because I think that the film would be more focused if it was put into the hands of say, Kôji Shiraishi who directed the wonderful mockumentary, Noroi: The Curse which is just as scary as this film (probably even scarier) but also much better made. However, Poughkeepsie is a film that I would recommend, especially if you want a good scare.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I watched this film last night on the recommendation of a friend. I had
never heard of it so I had no expectations going into it. My friend
merely said it was "unpleasant to watch". Okay, I can go on that.
The format of the film is laid out like a true crime documentary. A 1 hr. 24 minute long episode of American Justice (sans Bill Kurtis), showing a series of found footage clips of the killer and his victims, interspersed with interviews with law enforcement, victims families, etc. The acting, while not necessarily bad, is acceptable. There were some victims who were more convincing than others. The actress who played Cheryl Dempsey had probably the most screen time of any of the other victims and while I felt she did a decent job, I found another victim with much less screen time to be much more convincing. Her scene arrives about 1 hr. 8 min. into the film and is probably the creepiest scene in the whole movie for me.
The level of gore is pretty low here, with just a few quick grainy scenes of severed limbs, a body on a table, some aggressive hacking and sawing and whatnot. I found the implied violence to be somewhat effective. The combination of the grainy, distorted footage, the exaggerated blackness that occurs with such poor video quality and the sounds coming from the victims all created a chilling effect, with your imagination filling in what you can't actually see.
What kept me from being totally absorbed by this film was how sloppy and mashed together everything seemed. It was as though ideas were snagged from all over the serial killer universe and smashed together to create the "ultimate serial killer" who encapsulates traits from almost every classification of serial killer known to man. He can even frame a cop (the hokiest premise in the whole film), all the while staying anonymous. In order to create this enigmatic killer, ideas are borrowed from all over the spectrum, such as Leonard Lake/Charles Ng, Bundy, the Black Dahlia murder, Jack the Ripper, Maury Travis, BTK killer, Richard Cottingham, David Parker Ray and even the killer from Se7en. In addition, since the killer is never really seen (except in costume) and mainly heard, I really wanted to be creeped out by his voice. I would feel a chill when he would be speaking to his unknowing victims in that nice guy normal voice, luring them into his trap. But when it came time for the actor to really put the crazy hat on, his efforts fell short for me. The maniacal high pitched machine gun giggle is a bit too cliché.
The found video footage further pulled me out of the experience because some of them were so dark, grainy and/or distorted (including the audio) that it's almost impossible to tell what's going on. Filler? Overall, I felt the film was fairly entertaining. There were certainly several moments that were genuinely creepy. The first video we see of Jennifer Gorman's abduction serves as a chilling, shocking opener. While it isn't graphic, I found the implication truly disconcerting. However, there were so many ideas thrown together for this film and this killer that the end result felt incohesive, overstuffed and sloppy. The upside to this is that nobody has to pay a dime to see this film since the only place to view it is on YouTube. It's relatively short in runtime, easy to find, easy to stream and free. Not too shabby. 6/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
After contemplating what Id be sitting alone to watch, how disturbing
this would actually be, and as a Mock Documentary I was very
apprehensive to watch 'The Poughkeepsie Tapes'.
I cant say this was the most disturbing, or scariest movie i have seen, although while watching, had me looking back over my shoulder a few times.
The story was just a tad over the top from the start, the acting from the reporters, at the beginning and a few other minor characters, spoiled the reality.
Otherwise I felt the acting was entertaining, especially the case officers and teacher whom were interesting, humorous and real.
There was a few unanswered questions, which tends to bother me, and the 'tapes' were sometimes just too blurry to get the full effect of what was really happening, I'm still guessing?
I couldn't miss a second and had to rewind if I happen to look away. I found it clever, it kept going- the end was further than expected.
This is one of those films I loved, one I can't wait to tell my friends about, but follow with 'you may think its silly'.
For those who can leave work at home, I would say its a keeper!
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