“Real Video Footage” – Megan Is Missing and The Poughkeepsie Tapes
I have never particularly been a fan of movies purporting to be filmed on hand-held cameras by the characters. The Blair Witch project I found highly frustrating to watch, and I couldn’t even finish Cloverfield. Don’t even get me started on the August Underground movies, which quite frankly I found boring, predictable and the use of a hand held camera just made me feel dizzy. Though I guess the whole point of those films was simply to make the viewer feel sick… Recently I decided to watch Megan Is Missing after seeing it hyped up on Tumblr horror movie blogs. I admit to having misgivings as to whether I would like it or not. A few days later somebody recommended The Poughkeepsie Tapes to me, another film claiming to show “real” footage of murders caught on tape. The two films have a few things in common, they are both about murderers who film their kills, both are mockumentries, and in both the killers leave the tapes to be found by police. They are also very different, one is about a paedophile who uses the internet to lure teenage girls to their deaths, while the other is about an unconventional serial killer.
Megan is Missing (Michael Goi, 2011) is about two very different girls in their early teens who are inseparable. Megan is a promiscuous party girl who is very popular, whereas Amy is a good girl who does not have many friends other than Megan. Megan meets a boy on the internet who she assumes is 17 and a lot more sweet and sensitive than the guys that she is used to. She meets up with him, but dissapears soon after, leaving Amy, as well as her parents and the police desperately trying to find out what has happened to her. Soon after Amy vanishes as well. The film is composed of a mixture of video footage taken with Amy’s camera and news reports about the dissapearence of the two friends. Two parts of the movie have become renound for being highly disturbing, two pictures which are shown to have been “found on the internet”, and the last 20 minutes of the film. The acting is not particularly good, though I think the girl who played Megan was by far the best, and the later scenes with Amy were quite realistic. The director, Michael Goi, stated that he made this film in order to show people the dangers of giving out your information on the internet and, as somebody who has met up with people I have met on the internet several times, I admit to finding it quite disturbing. The footage of Amy being kidnapped and after her kidnap I found quite chilling. However I found the notorious last 20 minutes did drag on a bit too long for my liking. I also thought that the goings on at the party the girls went to were exaggerated, but maybe I was just a good little girl and other kids my age were out drinking, having sex and taking drugs. I’m not an expert on contemporary American teenage life, so I can’t say for sure. The charecter of Megan was easy to feel empathy for, she seems to have been a genuinely caring young girl, who had had a rather terrible past and now had very little self worth, which makes what happens to her in the movie even more sad. Amy, too, is a likeable character, so different from her peers.
Internet predators are an increasing problem in a world where more and more young people are gaining access to the internet everyday. For the most part this is a good thing, but there is also a more sinister side. Megan Is Missing attempts to shock us into being wary of the people we and our children are speaking to, and that not everyone is the who claim to be.
I was surprised to find that the “hand held camera” aspect didn’t annoy me as much as it had in other films. In fact I barely noticed it.
The Poughkeepsie Tapes (John Eric Dowdle) is more like a mockumentry than Megan Is Missing. It shows interviews with police officers, FBI agents, the parents of the victims and other characters in order to tell the story of a serial killer active in the North East corner of the United States. The film claims to show footage taken by the killer of his victims that had been found in the house he was living in. One of the victims had been kept alive and forced to live with the killer as a slave. The storyline follows the hunt for the killer and the techniques police used to try to find him. I found the acting to be fairly good in this film and the characters were fairly believable. The kills did not appear to be gruesome for the sake of being gruesome which somewhat makes a change when it comes to these sorts of films. I enjoyed how the viewer watched the killer change his tactics and develop on screen. It was also interested to see into the psychological side of serial killer investigation and being able to see the events from the point of view of the lawman rather than the victims. This does not mean that we are emotionally removed from the victims, on the contrary, we get an insight into the emotions of the killer’s “slave” Cheryl. The plot line is a lot more gripping than most slasher horror movies. It genuinely feels like we are watching a real documentary and is an interesting indie horror film that is genuinely worth a watch.