Oh hey, look it’s a faux-umentary, or a ‘mockumentary’, as the cool kids call them. I don’t call them that, but I was never considered cool. Well, other than mom. Mom thought I was pretty cool. I think.
As I have said before, I love faux-umentary films. When done right, it pairs the found footage element with the talking heads of a documentary and gives everything an element of chills that we don’t get otherwise. I mean, I love found footage but when presented as if it’s ‘real’, as if someone is commenting on the very things we are seeing. It’s sort of like Oh My God, Did You See That?
It validates our horror and gives it context.
The purer ‘found footage’ version of this, with us just seeing the this footage and raw and making of it what we will. We are voyeurs seeing what was never meant to be seen.
I love this stuff.
Let’s dig in!
SHADOW OF THE MISSING is a strange little faux-umentary that takes us to a British film festival to investigate the disappearance of some filmmakers that had been in attendance. We are given the story of an American director and the men that fill out her crew as they take in and film the film festival. We soon learn that these filmmakers have disappeared under strange circumstances and no one knows what might have happened. The crew had been investigating a nearby abandoned church when it mysteriously caught fire and they were never seen again. Their footage, however was, as it was found by a festival goer and we are shown that footage as well as interviews with people familiar with the case. We are given theories as wild as the fire being from a crashed flying saucer, to local witches, to demonic intervention. What we begin to learn though is that there were many people who may harbor some bit of guilt from their disappearance but then there is their footage, and the horrifying strangeness the crew encounters, leaving us with the question – what happened?
This is given to us as a serio-comic film with a lot of riffing on what may have happened. It’s a strange balancing act, to mix horror with comedy, and here you can see them valiantly trying to walk that tightrope with varied results. I admire that instead of what we expect, which is a straight forward People Go Where They Aren’t Wanted And Find Out About It film to one where their path to what happens is a little less straight forward. We are given a chance to know the crew and the director guiding them forward, as well as the people that told them about the church, encouraged them to go there, those that were with them, and perhaps the person that may have set the fire. None of this though explains what happens.
It’s a mix that is admirable but doesn’t quite work.
The horror is pretty well done, if familiar, the acting is mostly good – with some more ‘up’ to the riffing than others – and it is a creepy story. The big problem here is that the film is trying to serve two masters – comedy and horror – and serves neither well. Some of the comedy is really funny as we see that these weren’t the most beloved people and that people aren’t really that anxious to find them. Some of it falls flat though, as it consistently undermines the horror. What may have worked better is what they did with the priest they show watching the footage, where he is skeptical and jokey at first but begins to believe something strange happened to the people as it all plays out.
This is going to be a win for some folks that want a carefree, fun, found footage movie and not something heavy. This will fit that bill. For me though, I needed there to be more horror and more of an explanation as to what is going on instead of a hundred theories and Maybes that are never answered. In the very least it would have helped to end on a beat similar to LAKE MUNGO, where you get a final revelation that alters how you see things.
This one wasn’t for me but there are folks that will dig it so maybe give it a look.
2 out of 5