Directed by: John Erick Dowdle
Starring: Stacy Chbosky, Ben Messmer, Samantha Robson

I am usually a fan of low budget found-footage films and mockumentaries. But of course there are always exceptions (Blair Witch & Paranormal Activity come to mind) and THE POUGHKEEPSIE TAPES is one of those exceptions.

A mockumentary about a one of a kind serial killer known only as the 'Water Street Butcher', the film starts by telling us about the boxes of VHS tapes which were found in an abandoned house. These particular tapes contained scenes of torture and murder and were apparently filmed by a notorious serial killer known only as the 'Water Street Butcher'. The movie then continues to chronicle the Butcher's crimes and the subsequent police investigation. It does this by introducing us to a whole slew of characters, from the family members of victims to police officers, FBI agents, experts, news reporters, and the list goes on. This is where I first had issues. 
These fake documentaries are supposed to look as realistic as possible, otherwise there really would be no point to display them in this type of format. And since the bulk of the movie is made up of interviews with people, it would make sense that for the movie to seem real these people should be believable, right?
Well that's where the movie loses a lot of points. Not only does it have way too many characters, but the acting (or over-acting) is horrible. I was not convinced at all.
While on the subject of realism though, I do have to admit that there were a couple of clever devices used to make parts of the story seem factual. 
First of all is the fact that Poughkeepsie actually had it's very own serial killer in the 90s named Kendall Francois (A lot of people seem to think that this movie is based on his crimes, but if you do a little research there aren't really a lot of similarities between the two) who was linked to the deaths of at least 8 women.
Second is the use of real locations. Not only is Poughkeepsie a real town in NY, but it really does have a Water Street and a Dutchess Ave. During the film you will notice that a signpost depicting the intersection of these two streets is shown more than once.
And thirdly there is the reason why the Water Street Butcher didn't make headlines around the world. The excuse used is the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre, which is perfect if you think about it. That event overshadowed any other news event at the same time.

But even these clever devices weren't enough to save the movie. Not only was the acting horrible, and the characters too numerous, but some of the scenes involving 'found-footage' went from being slightly disturbing to being just plain ridiculous. And asking an audience to believe that a serial killer is actually some sort of mastermind genius who can not only evade the police for so long, but actually frame a police officer? 
The premise is a good one, and I think that if it was all simplified a little it might have been better. As it stands though, it's definitely one of the weaker entries into the found-footage / mockumentary subgenre.

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