Review – The Poughkeepsie Tapes



I don’t really know how to introduce this movie except to say that from the many stills I had to choose from online as my picture lead-in, I chose this basic one because anything else from the movie was too weird and creepy. I’ve read other reviews about Poughkeepsie Tapes, and it seems to make its way onto the same lists as Cannibal Holocaust in that it’s one of those movies you watch thinking that you’re ready to see anything because you’ve watched probably thousands of horror movies, but after seeing it you realize that some things don’t need to be seen (or filmed for that matter).

I love a good found footage movie, and I love seeking out any movie that I will actually find scary. Though I wouldn’t say I thought Poughkeepsie was “scary”, I thought it was disturbing and just gave me that sinking feeling in my stomach. The movie is a blend of found footage and “documentary” where we find out through interviews about a serial killer who just happened to film all of his killings/tortures. And of course, we get to see some of those killings. Hooray?

Normally when you see a slasher film where a bunch of people are being killed, it’s kind of entertaining and at times funny to see how creatively the people are killed and just think, “Oh man, they did NOT just go there!” For instance, think of the Final Destination franchise where people are just getting killed on a consistent basis. Some of the deaths were so far fetched that they were more humourous than gruesome. Then we have a movie like Poughkeepsie that shows only a couple of deaths but leaves a far more chilling impact than any teenage slasher ever could.

During the first half hour or so of the movie when they cut to the found footage, it was kind of irritating because the footage was such poor quality: grainy, not in focus, dipping in and out of being in colour – I kept dreading when they’d go back to the found footage because it was hard on the eyes and boring. By the end of the movie, I just didn’t want them to go back to the found footage because it was always so messed up. The poor quality of the footage added to how disturbing it was. I don’t know how to perfectly describe how something can be made to feel worse based on its quality except to say that there’s a difference between being lost in the dark and being lost in the daylight. Even though the surroundings are the same with or without light, you can’t help but feel a little more anxious in the dark.

By the end of the movie, you’ve seen a lot of weird stuff and you feel weird about that and then feel depressed that things like this happen in real life (I couldn’t help but keep thinking about the Amanda Berry and Michelle Knight case and how terrible their experiences must have been for 10 years in captivity). I know that all horror movies should hit me this close to home, but for some reason, Poughkeepsie is the one movie that stands out as something I wish I hadn’t seen. It wasn’t all that bad, but just…you know, I worked in a warehouse once that processed damaged food goods (think dented cans, crushed boxes) and we were never supposed to get fresh food there because it would have been shipped for miles and gone rotten. There was a time once where whoever shipped to us thought it’d be funny to put some raw steak on one of the pallets as a little surprise. We’re talking maggots, people. Squirming and jumping around. Not life altering by any means, but I could have done without witnessing that.

Have you seen Poughkeepsie Tapes? Did you feel the same way I felt? Or did you love it and now you want to hunt down Cannibal Holocaust? Cannibal Holocaust by the way…would not recommend. One of the scenes has stuck with me even to this day and I saw it close to 10 years ago. Now if you’ll excuse me, let’s look at happy things!