Let me start with this off by saying that I haven’t had this much fun in a long time. The fact that the Unnamed Footage Festival played almost exclusively messed up and bleak content only seemed to add to the fun. It really goes to show what a positive and uplifting community horror fans can be, and I feel lucky to have been there to witness it (in a virtual setting).
This year, Unnamed Footage Fest was entirely online, with the films and shorts playing non-stop for 24 hours. An ongoing chatroom was open with attendees, the Unnamed Footage Fest team, and even some of the featured filmmakers popping in from time to time. I say this with all honesty—everyone was hilarious, cracking jokes and referencing memes throughout the night. I was there to cover Block 3 but was having so much fun that I stayed for the majority of the fest.
Space Clown was the first film in Block 3, and what a way to start. It opens with a frankly incredible rap number, and I wish I could say the rest of the film had that same energy. It goes as far as it can with the clowns from space theme but lacks the darkness of Killer Klowns and the humor of other clown horrors like Killjoy. I realize this is an early film from this director, so I’m curious what his more recent work is like.
Basically, a meteor shower brings the titular Space Clown to earth, and he spends most of the runtime torturing our poor protagonist. There are fart and poop jokes. There’s genital mutilation. It’s all over the place.
A standout music video style 2001: A Space Odyssey segment at the end broke up the pace a little. After at least five end-credit scenes, members of the festival’s virtual chat joked that Space Clown would never end! Thankfully, it did and we moved on to several shorts.
One short film in particular that made everyone in attendance lose their minds (myself included) was Tofino 2018. I’m biased and fell in love instantly because my hometown is quite near Tofino, so the footage of two guys driving there was a drive I have actually taken before. They are hyped as hell to go to the beach and yell “TOFINO!!” a lot, which led to a chorus of the same in the chat. I highly recommend watching it on YouTube.
Next up was a wildly different tone with Reel 2 by a filmmaker named Slasher Victim 666. I’m not sure how much I’m missing by not having seen the first Reel previously, as it even directly references it. SV666 believes that he is the best filmmaker to ever live and spends a lot of time torturing women and being a big creep. Some scenes were pretty gruesome (one involved peeling a face off) while others were quite comical (Christmas themed?), giving me some whiplash. The final third is an all-out massive torture fest that is not for the faint-hearted.
I was surprised at how many Canadian films were shown at the festival, with the next feature also taking place in my home country. Long Pigs follows a filmmaking duo as they interview and watch a serial cannibal kill and prepare his meals. It’s interesting how casual and almost homey this felt, considering the subject. It’s extremely matter-of-fact, with the killer showing exactly how he cuts up a body with techniques similar to carving a deer.
I’m drawn in much more when found footage directly addresses the inherent moral issues with following someone like this while he commits heinous crimes. The line between observer and active participation is blurred, and that’s a deeply interesting topic. Who are you making this film for? Who benefits from this? It’s something I appreciate as I view more found footage films.
After a strange restless sleep, I returned just in time for Descent Into Darkness: My European Nightmare. This was a different cut from the one that is widely available, according to Unnamed Footage Fest staff. I’m spoiling it a bit, but while some versions show violence at the beginning, this one does not. It’s a gradual progression as we follow the cheerful Borat-like Sorgoi through his vacation diary and eventual breakdown.
I’m still honestly a bit in shock at the turn of events in Descent. My partner, who was home and only glancing over occasionally during the film, asked me, “How the heck did we get here?” Listen, I was here, and I can’t exactly tell you. It just gets worse and worse for Sorgoi. It gets wildly violent and depraved. I’m glad that I experienced it with others to at least lessen the blow.
An exciting new cut of Murder Death Koreatown followed, with instructions from the anonymous filmmaker to destroy it afterward. What plays is not unlike Sorgoi’s downfall but in a different way.
A murder happens near anon’s house, and he becomes obsessed with it to the point that he believes he has secret information involving a reported third party the murderer blames it on. He consults a psychic who tells him to leave it alone, everyone he talks to is clearly done with his nonsense. All the while, the chatroom was poking fun at how anonymous sounded a little bit like Kermit the frog.
Once again this was a film that made me think deeper about how we view things, this time our relationship around true crime. Hundreds of unsolved and cold case podcasts, blogs, and YouTube channels exist. While many of these have led to new breaks in cases, you have to wonder about the consequences of dredging up traumatic events that we are not equipped to deal with, whether in a conversational or professional aspect. When does it go too far? It’s hard to say, and I certainly don’t think I can tackle that topic myself, but it’s food for thought.
I feel incredibly thankful I was given the opportunity to attend Unnamed Footage Fest as part of Horror Obsessive. Thank you to the entire Unnamed Footage Festival team for putting together a fantastic event. Please consider donating to their GoFundMe for independent and small cinemas.
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