Just So We’re Clear…It’s Fake

I have to admit that I am a little surprised by how effective Found Footage films and faux documentaries are in convincing people they are real. 

Really real. 

I remember when BLAIR WITCH PROJECT came out and how some people were outraged that such a film could be released. They wondered how some company, how Artisan, could profit from the mysterious disappearance of these young people. 

Once they realized they’d been had, they got angry. 

How dare they try to trick people that way!

It was a sign of how good the advertising campaign was and how well crafted the mythology of the entire project is. From the documentary they aired on SciFi Network (old spelling back then) and an ad and web campaign that made you think that these people were really missing, I can appreciate how folks MAY be tricked. 

It seems believable. 

Until, that is, you take a moment to think about it. 

I get that our media and Hollywood are dodgy but can you really see something like this – a document of the last days of a trio of friends who disappeared and were clearly harmed – being released? Especially as a movie?

Really?

Not bloody likely. 

Seriously, what family would allow that to get out?

Things are dodgier now, to be sure. I reviewed two movies – VIDEO X and BAD KITTIES – that have convinced folks they are real. It’s a credit to the filmmakers and their casts that people aren’t sure. As with BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, I stand by the – come on, is someone gonna put this stuff out there? – but then I have to remember that with as many streaming platforms as there are, as many cable channels, as many streaming video services, and with the proliferation of crime content out there…COULD something like this appear one of these days?

I dunno, to be honest. 

I still don’t think the cops or families would sign off on things being released but, well, we did have a time when beheading videos were out there. If the right, or wrong, person gets their hands on something then it can be released. 

At least in some way. 

In some form. 

In a way that makes people money though?

Not likely. We aren’t quite THAT cynical. 

Yet. 

For my money, the well done ‘mockumentary’ (a name I hate because it sounds too much like they are mocking the thing, and not, well, aping the structure) is the one that can trick you. With good actors, and an effective way to trickle ‘found’ footage into talking head material, you have something convincing. Look at THE POUGHKEEPSIE TAPES for a great example. You never see SO much that you think that it’s impossible but you see enough to make you think it’s real. It helps that there are serial killers who filmed their exploits so you start to think…is it possible?

The line is getting blurrier and blurrier. 

There are so many documentaries on murders and murderers and each one is desperate to grab your attention that the idea that, if they could get their hands on some sort of footage of the crimes, they might show it is not impossible. The appetite for this sort of entertainment is high right now. 

We are fascinated by murders and murderers and what creates both. Serial killers have held us in their grasp for years now. 

How can someone become the sort of monster that hunts other people for some sort of pleasure?

None of this is to say though that I have seen a movie that convinced me that their fiction was fact. There are good found footage films, and good ‘mockumentaries’ – FAUX docs people, please! – but none of them tricked me. I will say though that if you are consuming this stuff on a streaming service like Tubi, where there are potentially hundreds of films you have never heard about, and which only have a short blurb about the movie and maybe a trailer, it might be easier to be tricked. 

You start to think…who put this on here?

What is this?

Is it possible?

You wonder if something was made that no one was hip to, that sort of fell between the cracks and saw the light of day. 

What if?

Is it impossible?

Far from it.

We have to remember that once upon a time CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST tricked Charlie Sheen into thinking that a real woman had been brutally murdered on film. 

We can be tricked. 

I mean, I was just a teenager when the ‘gore movies’ hit the videostores and kids were rushing to get films that were nastier than the FACES OF DEATH films and completely real. These were like the modern porn films where it was just a sex scene without the old fashioned stories of before and these were just scenes of explicit violence or death with nothing but a small set up to tell you what was happening. 

This led to gore websites and on and on. 

So then you have to ask…could it happen that a movie, or a doc is released showing footage from a death or murder?

Absolutely. 

It may be out there already and I just can’t think of it. 

So it’s all possible. 

Never doubt what greed and people’s appetite for blood can lead to. 

For now though, we only have the fiction on those virtual video shelves, not the fact. 

Thankfully. 

A day may come when that changes but for now…it’s still just a movie so you can relax. 

…c…

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