If you want to get to my sweet spot for found footage, you want to aim right for the fauxumentaries that are out there. I LOVE when a film can nail that, like POUGHKEEPSIE TAPES does. The idea of people making a doc about something crazy is great. (Not including BLAIR WITCH here because it stands in a weird spot where it’s a fake doc and then focuses on the people and not the doc).
SHEDIM, while it reeks of so many constructs of a lot of the recent found footage I have seen of late, it also is really focused on the doc element and not the – I Wanna Be An Influencer aspect.
SHEDIM finds a small group of documentary filmmakers as they are heading to the home of a missing man and his family. We learn that his brother had been making a documentary about the family but that suddenly the father had grown paranoid and enraged and wanted the doc to stop and the brother out of their house. Worried, the brother enlists his friend, who also makes docs (!) to see if he can find out what is going on with his recently disappeared brother. The team heads to the house where they lived and finds some clues and then heads out to the town they think the family headed to. After asking too many questions of the locals the father pops up with a gun and tells them they need to stop looking for his family and leave. The friend who is the doc’s director is able to calm the man down and to get him to agree to let them see the family and that they’re OK. What they find is that the family is living off the land in a house that is far off the beaten track. There is a fear of the father in the family, and of something else, something mysterious none of them will talk about. As the documentary crew embeds itself with the family we are shown the toxicity of the father and the paranoia that pulled the family out to the woods, and eventually, they start to get to the terrifying truth behind it all.
This is another one that is so solid but then just goes off the rails. As much as people want to rail on these films, the fact is that it’s hard to get these right.
The doc crew are great. The family is generally great (the father overplays things a LOT), and the mystery is compelling. There are some things that are far-fetched – he’s super secretive but lets them film everything (even bedrooms?!) because he got some money out of them. For a guy that ran away from the world this seems a bit…weird. The mystery is great too until we get the reason for everything and then it falls apart. Much like DAY OF DISAPPEARANCE once you know the WHY it falls apart. In both cases it’s too much. It needed to be simpler to be believable. There are some moments too where it seems like two characters are going to hook up and you can’t quite tell if they do or not and it doesn’t matter but, well, it does because it’s in the darned movie!
There’s a lot to like here but things get a bit convoluted and far-fetched and we just don’t get reasons for why things or happening or really a satisfying tie up to it all. The places the film goes is fascinating and I liked a lot of how it played out but the family giving them this much access, this readily didn’t feel earned. It could have been done in a very easy way with some dialogue to smooth it but whatevs.
Worth a look for diehards but as with most of these it’s a solid – meh.
2.25 out of 5