Schlocktoberfest 2K16 Day 10: The Poughkeepsie Tapes (2007)

Bringing a realism to horror that has never felt this authentic before.
Bringing a realism to horror that has never felt this authentic before.

Synopsis: In an abandoned house in Poughkeepsie, New York murder investigators uncover hundreds of tapes showing decades of a serial killer’s work.

There has been a point in time in everyone’s lives where we’ll catch a brutal true crime story on the news and for some morbidly fascinating reason we can’t pull ourselves away from the television screen. The stories of The Zodiac Killer, The Manson Family, John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer and Aileen Wuornos are not the easiest to digest but thanks to seminal docudramas ala Unsolved Mysteries, The FBI Files, and The New Detectives viewers were given a fact driven narrative on serial killers early beginnings, what drove these people to kill, and in most cases (apart from The Zodiac Killer) how law enforcement were finally able to crack every case and bring these murderers to justice. In an age where media sensationalism can draw us in no matter if its newspapers, television, Youtube, Wikipedia or even Facebook or Twitter when a newly discovered piece evidence in a cold case becomes a trending topic the entire world reaches that same exact tipping point from when a serial killer initially started to gain prominence.

The most effective way of bringing person’s fears out into the open isn’t by watching some silly ‘scary’ movie but by focusing on the horrors of the real world. War,  conflict, murder, death, crimes of passion while I’ve found myself ignoring the headlines in general nowadays I do know that doom and gloom sells over sunshine and roses. The creators behind The Poughkeepsie Tapes obviously did their homework using the docudrama format as their foundation in order to keep the audience emotionally invested. Noted serial killers throughout history have been known for keeping mementos and again the film makers decided to use that by giving the killer an obsession of documenting his descent through a camcorder and hundreds of VHS tapes. And this is where The Poughkeepsie Tapes become completely unnerving because where its completely a work of fiction the real life influences start to stick out in the back of your head to the point where you feel you shouldn’t continuing watching and yet through macabre curiosity you want to see how things play out. One particular scene shook me up  and put me in a place emotionally  that I haven’t felt in quite a while and this is where the serial killer enters the home of a 19 year old college student and hides himself in a closet waiting for the opportune moment to strike. The 19 year old invites her boyfriend over for a movie night and they casually walk around the house not knowing there is someone lurking in the shadows. As a horror movie aficionado I’ve felt nearly every form of terror known to man however The Poughkeepsie Tapes really took me out of my comfort zone. In checking out the backstory of the making of this unique horror/thriller it was interesting to read that this was made in 2007 but for some reason not explained the film’s initial theatrical release was pulled. In July 2014 The Poughkeepsie Tapes made its debut on Video On Demand via Direct TV but less then a month later it was once again removed from distribution. Director John Erick Downe has gone on record that MGM is considering a wider release for it so whether or not that even happens is currently unknown. Tracking down a copy is absolutely mandatory, yes the subject matter and the way its presented does sort of have that controversial aura surrounding it but lets not forget so did the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The conventional ways that Hollywood goes around trying to scare us every year has fractured the system from within so we as movie goers have to step off the beaten path and explore the unconventional in order to keep our hearts racing and the adrenaline pumping.

Final Grade: A


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