Reviews: The Poughkeepsie Tapes

Completely illogical

For those who haven't seen it, the basic premise is that a typical suburban home is discovered to have a whole bunch of dead bodies in the backyard, and the killer, who lived there previously, left video recordings of his heinous acts. The killer is unknown and still out there, probably setting up shop somewhere new....

Creepy in the moment, but then you stop to think about it and go WTF?!. Part of the basic premise of the movie is that no one knows anything about this guy. They have nothing but a couple of police sketches to go off of. Yet, supposedly, the guy was living in the same house long enough to kill several people and bury them in the backyard and have that location be discovered. And in that whole time, what? He never spoke to his neighbors? Paid a bill? Had a job? The guy isn't living in the middle of nowhere. He's in fucking suburbia!

In the end, any potential creepy factor is buried under the flaws of the premise. If you want to set your movie in reality, you have to follow the rules of reality.

Uneven but unsettling and worthwhile.

I'm fascinated by serial killers. There's no denying that might say something unflattering about either myself or the society I am a part of, but that's how it is. The Poughkeepsie Tapes is a movie about a serial killer, but not your typical such. Instead, the movie revolves around the eponymous tapes, collected after a particularly nasty serial killer case in Poughkeepsie, NY. The film itself sets out to be a Mockumentary-style tale, resembling in part the sort of serial killer documentary one might find on The Discovery Channel if one is lucky a late night, but there's a couple of things with this presentation that bugged me a little. First one is that the movie is fond of throwing screens of static and some static sound at a rather high volume while switching from interviews with the various experts and people related to the killings to material from the tapes. I realize they should have some kind of mark for transition, which doesn't exactly strike me as professional TV material. Also, it feels like a first rough cut sometimes, thanks to some shots obviously beginning or ending before they should.

The acting is a bit so-so, but there's some good moments here and there. All in all it's a bit like Paranormal Activity, in that it kind of draws you in, and once you're in there... well. The Poughkeepsie Tapes definitely is a scary movie. You'd think a movie like this would really wallow in gore, but there's not really much of it. There's a little, but most of the time, the movie relies on the sheer brutality of the kills and torture actually shown, it sort of reminds me of Man Bites Dog in that respect, in the way it holds the scenes in length and not relenting on the violence shown. The killer has a sort of ├╝ber-BDSM kind of thing going for him, and I think those scenes might be extra disturbing for us on the other side of the spectrum of that particular fetish, but I digress. The movie also tries to describe brutality through witnesses or CSIs of various kinds. Some times it works really well, while other times, it comes off as more of a Bloody Hilarious-kind of thing, which I'm guessing wasn't intentional. Overall, I'd say The Poughkeepsie Tapes is worth a check if you're into horror mockumentaries, but don't be surprised if it creeps you out.