AFTER THE SIGHTINGS – found footage review

Do you remember the weird clown sightings that happened a few years ago? You know, some weird kids dressed as clowns and stood around and acted weird, then other people did it, and as more folks did it they began to take it a little too far. Remember that? Something sorta funny but more surprising because it didn’t lead to someone getting shot?

I do.

It was a weird time.

A time both playful and dangerous in these times we are in now. Considering how quickly people are shot and killed these days, it’s a shock that none of these literal and figurative Bozos didn’t end up deceased. I admit though that there’s a part of me that really liked that moment in time because we need a shake up once in a while. A little playful anarchy to remind us that life isn’t always black and white but sometimes purple and orange with polka dots. The biggest impact it seems though that has come from those sightings is 1. a rash of faked ‘sightings’ in ‘scary’ YouTube videos where people pretend they’re finding something HORRIFYING! 2. works like AFTER THE SIGHTINGS that took inspiration from those sightings and did their own thing with them.

Nothing wrong with that at all.

You could really do a scary project taking inspiration for that.

Heck, as hack as ‘scary’ clowns are these day there are still movies like HAUNT, HELL HOUSE, LLC, and TERRIFIER that show how scary clowns can still be. The thing though is you have to use clowns as a jumping off point and DO something with them. Otherwise you have a random clown with a chainsaw at a haunted house, an image that isn’t scary because it doesn’t mean or say anything.

Enter AFTER THE SIGHTINGS, a movie set up as a faux-documentary by a couple that want to make a film about the rash of clown sightings. The couple decide to focus on the area where they live and to use other sightings as back-up for how far reaching the sightings are. It seems though that in their area The couple do some interviews and in doing them they meet someone who tells them where to find a bunch of clowns, out in a wooded area near their town. The couple heads out and find the clowns, as well as some trouble. They manage to get away but not without a good scare and the man losing his wallet. After that run-in things only get more horrifying when the clowns leave a present for the couple on their doorstep, letting them know in a not-so-subtle way that they know where the couple lives. The man has reached his limit and wants nothing more to do with the documentary or the clowns but the woman insists that they need just one more encounter to really hammer the film home. The question suddenly becomes though – can they survive another run-in, or will they become victims to the very things they are documenting?

There really is an ineresting idea here, wanting to do a fictional delving into what the clown sightings mean. The trailer even promises that sort of revelation. Unfortuantely, what we get is a terribly mediocre movie with flashes of possibility that just devolves into what many people consider ‘torture porn’ – I don’t, but don’t get me started on that.

The use of the faux-documentary is pretty great and really opens things up. The problem is that the footage of the ‘clown attacks’ is really corny and doesn’t convey terror so much as silliness. Here is where you get the heavy doses of – why are you still filming, you idiot – that so many people think that the subgenre is all about. This is the first misstep in the film and it’s a shame because they could have really set the tone for the whole film by showing ‘discovered’ footage of scarier attacks. It’s also frustrating because you only need to look at YouTube to see where the bar is for ‘scary’ encounters and then do something different…that doesn’t involve chainsaws or fake sabers.

Then there is the ‘awful’ footage the couple buys of encounters at a gas station that should have been given to the police but hey, whatever. The two encounters are ridiculous and nonsensical and if that’s the level of empathy the workers for that store have – a woman is kidnapped and the guy just watches – then brother, that place has a hard time…and cigarettes for sale by the single.

The chemistry between the couple isn’t bad but the fact that the woman consistenly bullies the guy to continue with the movie that was sorta ‘his’ is weird, especially since she reveals a reason for her to want to tap out of it. It becomes one of those things where it’s like…I mean, do you WANT trouble because you sure keep looking for it.

Lastly there’s the cowns.

They are awful.

They are off the rack goofball clown costumes with no character and the actors bring ZERO to the roles. There was no thought to make them scary or to give them personalities – look at Art the Clown and see what the possibilities are here – so that you just get some idiots dressed as clowns and looking to commit crimes. Woo. Scary.

This is one of any number of terribly frustrating faux-doc/found footage films where there was one idea and nothing added to it to flesh it out. Instead of a creepy crawly film we end up with just another movie exploiting a current event for a quick buck. As credibility and believability are stretched thin everything falls apart with a meaningless finale that adds nothing to the film and only serves to remind us that there was no real plan in place as to how to make the movie scary.

Hey, good for them for making a movie. That alone is an accomplishment. Alas, that’s about the only thing they accomplished here. The movie is bad, bad, bad, and utterly forgettable and just adds another title to the proof that ‘scary’ clowns need to take five.

1/2 out of 5

(it’s bad).

Hey, I write books, go get you one.

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