The big talk of the past couple days is the overtly hostile audience reaction that greeted The Poughkeepsie Tapes at Harry Knowles' Butt-Numb-A-Thon this past weekend. For those who haven't seen it, Poughkeepsie is a horror-mockumentary, a "found footage" movie like The Blair Witch Project, in which we're told about and shown clips from the 'found' video library of a prolific serial killer who terrorized Poughkeepsie, NY for years. At BNAT, the audience greeted the film with boos and hisses and the mood was so hostile that a planned Q&A with the filmmakers was cancelled on the spot. Today, AICN and other sites are running advance reviews that spoil the movie's secrets and trash it as a completely failed project.
Here's where I come into this -- I saw The Poughkeepsie Tapes at Tribeca and I enjoyed it, but only because I was seeing it on a completely different wavelength than the filmmaker. You see, the director actually thinks his movie works as a faux-documentary. He thinks the audience is fooled. Not only is it not fooled, but when watching the film at Tribeca I never even imagined a serious attempt was being made to trick me into thinking this was real. It was only later, when I conducted an exclusive interview with John Dowdle, that this came to light. See, I thought it would be perfectly okay to talk about the film not being real during the interview, and I happily pointed out all the 'cues' that clued me to the fact that it was phoney. This caused John great agita and weeks after the interview was published, I started getting frantic, panicked emails from the film's publicity people asking me to cut out the passages where I talked frankly about the film being fictional.
John, get a new marketing team. No human being with a third-grade education or higher is fooled into thinking your movie is a legit documentary. Again, I didn't even know I was supposed to think that. But the point is that I didn't care -- I thought the movie actually worked as a horror-comedy and I gave it a positive review, and I certainly wasn't the only one. That's the direction to spin this thing. Otherwise, you're just pissing people off by insulting their intelligence.