The Wicksboro Incident

Dir: Richard Lowry
Star: Bobby Harwell, Kyle Nudo, Dan Brinkle

I can see the appeal of the found-footage genre. It's incredibly cheap to make, with the flaws like bad audio quality and poor camerawork adding to the sense of reality. And it can be incredibly profitable, as both Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity showed: if you can capture the public's interest, you've hit the jackpot. However, for every one which manages that, or which brings a new spin to the genre, there are ten which seem content to roll out the same tired clichés. This one is a bit of both. It starts interestingly enough, with footage of an interview with a man, who claims to have been part of a secret government research project in the 50's, which appears to have uncovered evidence of aliens living among us, before both the project and the remote Texas town in which is was located, were wiped off the map. He managed to avoid the fate, and has been living under the radar for over 40 years. Now, coming to the end of his life, he wants to blow the lid off the cover-up, and agrees to return to Texas with the film-makers to locate the facility.

So far, so decent enough. But then things fall apart, as they encounter a local sheriff, who alerts the authorities, and they then start hunting down the investigators. The second half of the film consists of little more than the camera being waved around by an epileptic baboon, in more or less complete darkness, with occasional shots of authority figures - the camera is also held onto far beyond the point when any sensible person would have dropped it, the better to run away. Things end, probably inevitably, with the "confession scene", which is particularly shamelessly ripped off from Blair Witch. It's a shame, because the first, more measured half is actually effective and creepy. Harwell, who plays the first-hand source of the information, Lloyd, seems thoroughly credible, and the story he tells comes over as plausible and well thought-out, enhanced by a wealth of detail. If this more restrained approach had been kept up, I'd have been a lot happier and more entertained. Instead, when Chris came in near the end, she watched a few minutes of wobbly darkness, and asked, "Why are you watching this?" I didn't have a good answer.

[September 2014]

More lost than found
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