Out today from our friends at Scream Factory comes the eagerly awaited home release of The Poughkeepsie Tapes. This film has been hovering at cult status for years, ever since its 2007 Tribeca Film Festival screening, where it was bought by MGM. We've never really been told why MGM pulled the film's theatrical release from its 2008 slate, but the cast and crew seem to think it had to deal with a disastrous screening in Austin. We may never know why the film was yanked, but finally, here it is for collectors to enjoy at home.
Directed by John Erick Dowdle (Quarantine, As Above, So Below, No Escape), The Poughkeepsie Tapes centers on the home video collection of hundreds of VHS tapes left behind by a serial killer for police and the FBI.
This faux documentary's gruesome footage is interspersed with interviews from the affected families, police, FBI agents, re-enactments, and even an FBI training class on serial killers. Those who watch the Investigation Discovery channel, aka what I like to call "The Murder Channel," will see just how well done The Poughkeepsie Tapes is and how much they reflect those kind of true crime shows.
I'm not sure what the budget was for this film, but I'm willing to bet they did huge things with little money. The film stands out from the indie pack with genuinely creepy visuals shot at angles that may haunt you. Dowdle uses his film school training to the best of his abilities here, and then goes ahead and breaks the rules.
Most actors are quite believable, and really sell the story, particularly Stacy Chbosky, who played Cheryl Dempsey, one of the killer's first victims who was kept in a basement and subject to all kinds of torture. The Poughkeepsie Tapes is definitely not a film for everyone, particularly those who have a low threshold for violence and torture. For those who love true crime and found footage films, The Poughkeepsie Tapes is a treasure.
The film looks and sounds wonderful, and has that grimy, warped, colorful and degraded-as-hell VHS quality at times. It's a bizarre film that's truly unsettling at times, and makes you want to take a shower afterward --- I dare say the film achieves the same kind of effect as Wes Craven's Last House on the Left.
Is this film up your alley? Check out the trailer below and read more about Scream Factory's release of The Poughkeepsie Tapes here.