Night #5: WNUF Halloween Special (2013)

Directed By: ???

The legend surrounding this movie was one of the more interesting things about it. There was no official release, instead bootlegs tapes were left at conventions and sometimes tossed out into the street at random, hoping to capture some of that Blair Witch Project magic. It clearly didn’t make the dent that movie did, since chances are you’ve never heard of it, but nonetheless this is a great little entry into the found-footage genre. And it’s actually found footage too!

So as much as I’d like to go along with the gimmick I think the jape is up, so here it is. In 2013 some filmmakers recreated a local TV station’s ‘Halloween Special’, for us in the UK the closest comparison was Ghostwatch, except this one is complete with commercial breaks, movies and cheap TV shows. In amongst all that is a nightly news report, followed by a special live broadcast from a supposedly haunted house.

For the first half hour or so you’re just watching this local station going about their nightly business, interrupted at every available opportunity by the breaks, so much so that it makes me think watching US TV must be a nightmare. Hilariously, as you’re supposed to be watching a duped VHS, you get moments where the bootlegger is fast forwarding through the parts they find boring (Like the weather) and just pressing play when it seems to get interesting again. There’s some bad jokes by the TV anchors, some hilariously deadpan news reports (Such as the one year anniversary of the death of a trick or treating kid, dressed in army fatigues, who had the misfortune of knocking the door of a Vietnam vet who promptly had a ‘episode’).

After that, the last hour is made up of the broadcast from the house, where we have a local Priest and two paranormal investigators (Presumably based on the Warrens, featured in The Conjuring) as well as the local reporter who’s leading the charge. It’s not really a spoiler to say that this last part of the movie pretty much goes the way that you expect, and though a little generic, charms its way through to the end.

What really helps is the way they nail the aesthetic. This doesn’t look like something that’s been run through an 80s filter in photoshop, this is something that took some dedication to reproduce. Everything about it seems to be authentic, and I can’t imagine how long it must’ve taken them to pull it off. It even has one of those weird lines across the bottom of the screen you used to get with a scratched up VHS. If it wasn’t for one or two performances that overdid it, you could sit this down in front of someone and convince them it was real. In fact, I still think you could in some cases. Still, the idea of the movie is good enough that you can overlook some faults in the execution. There’s really nothing else out there like it, and though you can get it on DVD now (And VHS), I wish it had just existed in its original form and carried that gimmick on a little bit longer. Still, I get the need to want to actually make money off the movie you’ve made, so I can’t begrudge them that.

My only real complaint is that when things start to get tense, they cut to commercial and it’s really to their detriment. It pulls that trick just a little too often and there’s no better way to deflate a scene than cutting to another commercial for the Arcade and Pizzeria (Boasting the latest toppings such as ‘sausage’). As it stands though, I’m happy to give this a spin every year. My only regret is that I didn’t put it on Halloween night, like Trick ‘R Treat there’s just something that works better when you watch these on the night in question.


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