Authorities find over 800 VHS tapes made by an elusive killer in and around Poughkeepsie, New York. We the viewer – most of whom are absolutely not police or FBI agents – get to watch some of these and see what terrible things this killer did. Awful things. Twisted things. Why did they let us watch these?
This wasn’t as much out-and-out scary as it was supremely unnerving. I had to keep telling myself, “This isn’t real, this isn’t real.” I believed myself for the most part, but a little part of me knew that I’m not a smart person and was probably lying.
This movie is 86 minutes long. There is a whole lot of life-scarring material in this movie for it being so short. There are things in this movie I will carry with me for years. Maybe the rest of my life. I may pass those things down to my children. They don’t deserve this, man.
There is a lot of stuff going on here, but a decent portion of the movie deals with the kidnapping/torture of Cheryl Dempsey. She was a teenager when she was abducted. She was abused physically and mentally to a terrible extent. We see the torture. We see her mind cracking under the strain of it all. It’s heartbreaking.
In a particularly chilling scene, the killer videotapes himself as he approaches Cheryl’s mom, offering to help find her child. Eventually it dawns on her mother that she is talking to the man who took her daughter. As she is paralyzed with fear, the killer laughs and walks off. That scene broke me down. Of all the things I saw him do over the course of this movie, that felt like one of the worst. It felt like someone punching me in the gut. The torture I can take. But that? That’s a bridge too far, fella.
But that wasn’t the worst. Not really. He did some, let’s call it “creative surgery,” that was horrifying. Just horrifying.
Both his psychological and physical torture are next level sadistic. If this man existed in real life and was anywhere close to my town, I would have picked up and moved a long time ago. Maybe burned my house on my way out of town for good measure.
I feel like I’m really talking this movie up. I liked it, but it wasn’t perfect. There are some slow moments. There are some scares that don’t really land. But those are small moments and relatively easy to overlook. Again, it’s a short movie, and those moments are in the minority. For the most part, this is an extremely well-done movie. It used the found footage genre to perfection.
If you’re looking for an unsettling serial killer movie, this is it. It has had a troubled release history, so it’s not the easiest movie to track down, but you can find it if you search hard enough. That aspect makes this a little creepier: it’s a movie about hours and hours of torture and murder, and it’s not easy to track down. That aspect makes it feel a little more real.
Turn off the lights, check to make sure all your doors and windows are locked and throw this on. You may find yourself staring at the screen as the credits roll, wondering what you have gotten yourself into. Then checking all the closets in your house. Just in cases, you know?
Notable actors: Bobbi Sue Luther, a real serial killer (probably)