WNUF Halloween Special (2013)
The first 1/3 of the movie is the local evening news with two anchors dressed up for Halloween and all the news that evening is mostly Halloween related, tips for safety, dentist candy buy-back program as well as a sad story involving a young boy who was accidentally killed the previous Halloween. They also ran a story about a group of religious fanatics protesting the holiday and trying to ban it forever. All throughout the anchors are making their usual lame newscaster puns and discussing the highlight of the special about the journalist going in the local haunted house with a pair of paranormal professionals. In-between the news and the actual special are commercial breaks and that was a joy seeing fake yet looked real enough for 1987 commercials for local businesses like carpet installers, arcades, record compilations and local farms as well as the season’s political ads.
The other 2/3 of the film is the actual special where a smug and skeptical journalist leads the two paranormal investigators and their clairvoyant pet cat into this haunted house. He cracks jokes and is very above this whole operation and you can tell he’s only doing this for the ratings. They even bring in a priest to do a possible exorcism of the house. I don’t want to go into spoiler territory but of course there are twists and turns along the way.
Is It Actually Scary: Unfortunately no. Which is a real shame since they put so much great effort into the look and authenticity of the film. It looked perfect in how old it looked, from the fashions, technology and music of the era. But the only complaint I had was in how lacking it was in the scares.
How Much Gore: Very little since this is supposed to be the evening news and even when things get hairy for the journalist in the house there’s not much in the gore showing department. You see some blood but not enough to raise an eyebrow.
Best Scene: The best aspect of this film is the fake commercials. I thought they were going to be super annoying because like typical basic cable of 1987 there was a commercial break every 10 minutes of broadcast. However they were the things I looked forward to the most. But the best scene would have to be the live viewer call-in seance they set up while in the haunted house. Without giving too much away it was a disaster for the TV crew. Every call they received was a prank. It was hilarious.
Worst Scene: The ending fell flat and was too typical of a found footage film.
Any Nudity: Nope.
Overall: I just saw a review for this film last week. I never heard of it before that review. It seems to be very underground and as indie as they come. Its not on Netflix nor is it sold yet on Amazon. After some quick Googling I found a site that sold it. Not only on DVD but also on VHS for a more authentic feel! I jumped at the chance to dust off my old VCR and sure enough watched it last night. It was a hoot. It actually felt creepy watching a videotape in the dark to a video as if it looked taped off of TV 26 years ago. I have seen a bunch of new and old found footage horror movies (why haven’t they tried to make a found footage comedy or rom-com. Hell I’d check out a found footage martial arts movie!) and they always fall short in the scares or even good stories. Some don’t even have a reason to be found footage. The Paranormal Activity movies are such cheese; the only reason I still check them out is to see if they do any good jump scares. Kinda like going in a carnival funhouse or spook-house. But this movie actually makes the best use of found footage (since the [REC] movies) and went the extra mile by adding the commercials and other unique VHS-style things like fast-forwarding and video-tape glitches.
The main highlight, for me, was all the local commercials looking like they were made in 1987. For a found footage film this is not only unique but gives the film or tape an added authenticity. Out of all the found footage movies I’ve seen they’ve all been videos people made filming documentary-style videos and obviously edited down to make a narrative film. Not this video. It was made as if it was taped on a VCR in real time. It even has points where the person who recorded it fast-forwarded the tape on some commercials and slower parts before the actual special.
I know its hard to find right now but keep it in mind for next year. I’m glad I was able to get it in the mail before Halloween and I thoroughly enjoyed it (on VHS!) Hopefully it will be more readily available in the near future and if it does gain in popularity (like it should) I’m sure they’ll be a ton of copy-cats but at least they’ll be copying a very good example.
Score: 9 Clairvoyant Cats (out of 10)