Wednesday, 16 July 2014

The Upper Footage (2013) - Horror Film Review

The Upper Footage starts with instructions on how to get the most out of the film which I found quite unique. It recommended that it be watched on a laptop, that decent headphones be used, that it be watched in a dark room, and lastly that it be watched alone. To get the most out of it I did just that rather than watch it on my TV that I had originally planned to do. The Upper Footage is from the found footage genre (Paranormal Activity, Apollo 18 etc) which I admit I am totally sick of, but is this one any good?

The start of the film gives some background on how the footage came to be found with a back story detailing how the footage had been blocked from being shown for years but has finally been released. Four rich kids in New York head out for a night of drinks and drugs, one of them; Will deciding to film the night (I guess his camera was new or something). Wanting to pick up some cocaine they head to a rougher part of town to get it where one of the group decides to bring a 'normal' girl (Jackie) back to a penthouse apartment. A drug fuelled night begins but is cut short when Jackie is discovered dead in the bathroom from an apparent overdose. Rather than call the Police the group instead decide that they are going to try and cover up the death, Will continuing filming on the premise that they can watch back the footage in the morning so as to get their stories straight for the cover up.

First off I wrote my notes for this in the dark, so it was with some dismay when I turned on the lights and discovered the pen I had been using was not actually working that well (amateur!) so my recollections will have to rely mostly on my memory. I am fed up with the found footage genre I had thought, the same old tricks are used again and again but with this film I found (footage) out that it is actually just supernatural horror that I am sick of. To call The Upper Footage horror would be doing it a disservice, it is certainly harrowing, but feels strangely realistic and like something that could actually happen. Of course it is always a leap to accept that events would be filmed by someone the whole time and here is no different with quite a loose excuse given.

The rich kids are portrayed as pretty horrible people. These young adults are racist, sexist, elitist and homophobic to a high degree but it never comes across as parody. Their interactions with Jackie (whose face is permanently pixelated out in a creepy fashion) have them treating her almost like a sub species due to her not being wealthy, this explains in part the insane plan they decide to come up with when she dies.

Taking place over one long night there are highs and lows, around half the film is the lead up to Jackie's death with the remainder much more poorly filmed that ties in nicely with the downward shift of the films tone. The camera is almost abandoned at times that leads to some fantastic sequences that take place over a period of time but all in one shot. I do not know if the actors ad libbed or if they had a script but it is very impressive that they were to stay in the moment during these shots. There is little effort made to get nice looking footage, a lot of the film is blurred, a gigantic section is just pitch black with literally nothing to see but lots to hear. I have just never seen anything like this, usually found footage is so unrealistic but here there was a feeling that this is something that could actually happen, it had me wondering just what I would have done in that situation.

The group (three males and a female) spend a lot of the film arguing, it almost seems at times they take turns to gang up on each other, this did get tedious at times as it just seemed to go on and on. The acting was not bad with the exception of the unending arguments, and they look the part appearing suitably drugged up during the party scenes and desperate after that. The second half did drag a little bit but was actually the more engaging part of the film with an almost real time feel to it all leading up to a shocking end. The Upper Footage is certainly a powerful piece of film making and the use of headphones creating some jump scares and bringing you further into the horror than speakers would.

Not a bad film at all, very well made (as in badly made, but that's what makes it seem more believable) with a realistic setting and an interesting plot. Worth a watch certainly, the plot while basic kept me glued to the screen.


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