A horror flick doesn’t always have to have a machete-wielding revenant or some pissed-off and hungry demon outta hell to get under your skin (heh-heh). Sometimes, because of an unsettling view of a certain event in history, a frank depiction of a powerful (or sinister) personality, or turning a mirror on the dark side of human nature itself, a movie becomes, by default, a horror story. It still shows you something you don’t wanna see, something that gets to you…but it’s not the exposition of blood or organs flying about or the apprehensive terror of some unseen force living in your pantry. In these cases, it’s man’s own inhumanity; the bottom-of-the-barrel scrapings of human depravity that sickens us.
Upper Footage hit the bricks after a clever media campaign that detailed how a couple of YouTube videos that allegedly showed a girl overdosing on drugs whilst her high-society friends looked on became a media sensation. It seemed that the videos were placed as blackmail pieces for the socialites who had their faces obscured in the footage; pay up, or the video goes on without the obscurement. News services ran with it; a couple of high-profile celebrities were pointed at as having been in the videos; several websites reported that Quentin Tarantino himself had bought the footage with plans to release it as a feature film, but had to back off for legal reasons.
You get a montage rundown of all of this media activity at the beginning of the film, and then are told that you are about to see an edited version of the footage, with the face of the girl who died obscured for the sake of her family. What you see is a vlogger’s record of he and several of his wealthy friends out for a night on the town in the Big Apple; drugs, booze and women are all high on the “to-do” list. As we watch them in their limo ride, we hear a lot of bored, virulent chatter amongst them. At times it’s hard to hear with everyone talking at once, but as far as debauchery is concerned, these folks could rate up there with Caligula’s Rome; pawing over each other’s girlfriends, bitching about finding drugs, yelling racial epithets at people they pass; it’s all pretty vulgar. After a bit of this, one of them hooks up with a girl (with the pixelated face) and brings her along. The others callously make fun of her amazement at their wealth and belongings, and soon begin feeding her cocaine like it’s Christmas in Colombia…
I won’t say any more; you can get that same info from the trailer. Needless to say, the carrying-on doesn’t end well…and it’s the reactions of the rich kids (and the aftermath that their wealth and avarice buy them) that really forms the basis of the horror here.
Now, after all was said and done, this “true” story was revealed to be bullshit; the story was fabricated and leaked out early in an effort to build interest. However, it was also a kind of social experiment; throw this shit out on YouTube, plant a couple false stories, and see what happens. Well, what happened was that mainstream media bit into it hook, line, and sinker. I don’t know what’s scarier; the fact that there are people in the world that would act/react the way the assholes in the movie did, or that it’s so easy for pop culture to embrace falsities as the truth. There’s no gore; nothing horrifying other than the attitudes you’re exposed to. I found the acting to be pretty believable; granted, sometimes the behavior was sluggish or hyper, but I would guess a bunch of drunk/coked-up/panicked folks just might act that way. The way they addressed the biggest pitfall of “found-footage” films (why the fuck are you filming all of this?) was a little weak, but again, I can see where the same fucked-up and scared shitheads might think it was a viable thing to do. My biggest complaint is several extended sequences (and by that I mean stretching out for like, ten minutes) of where you don’t see a goddamn thing; the camera is sitting on the floor or in someone’s lap in a dark car…but, as I’ve said with other POV flicks, if you’re going to buy the concept of what it is, then that’s just part of it.
I didn’t love this film; it drags a lot in places (for the reasons I’ve mentioned), and I spent most of the time pissed-off and wanting to bash some of these jokers in the head (and that was before the overdose). However, I kind of think that was the intention; the film did inspire emotion, even if it was revulsion, so I didn’t hate it, either.
As far as the “truth” of the matter…the fact that the movie isn’t really a “true story” doesn’t upset me; on the contrary, I’m glad that I didn’t actually witness the deplorable events in the film…
…what does upset me is the fact that it quite possibly could have been true.
Now that’s horror.
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