Last found footage flick for a while, I swear. Blame it on Wekufe: The Origin Of Evil. That led me to thinkin’ of these conspiracy/cover up found footage movies which led me back to Nietzermann which led me back to arguably one of my all time faves of this type, Savageland.
First off, it’s not exactly what you’d call bona fide found footage. Really neither is Nietzermann which is more like confiscated footage. Savageland is more like mockumentary with a specific found element.
It’s true that I mentioned this movie just over a year ago back in Post #6 before I even started this godforsaken Horror 365 project. In fact, that post was really the first movie post of the rebooted Blogferatu. The first 5 posts were more like a little warm up and throat clearing.
In fact, of the first 5, only Post #3 was an actual review at all (the Netflix series, Ratched). So it wasn’t until Post #6 that I well and truly started delving back into movies, starting off with a handfulla horror mockumentaries.
Now, I’ve made it clear on numerous occasions that the zombie subgenre, while it certainly has its standouts, would not be included if I were to belt out my own personal rendering of “My Favorite Things.” But every now and then, something comes along that manages to be truly new and different. Such is the case with Savageland which concerns a zombie attack on Sangre De Cristo (SDC), a very small Arizona border town.
The lone survivor, an undocumented immigrant and day laborer, Francisco Salazar, is also an amateur photographer (this is important later). Naturally, the local sheriff assumes that since Salazar was “illegal,” Mexican, and found covered in blood, he must be guilty, so he’s arrested.tried, and executed in short order.
Normally I prefer my horror straight no sociopolitical chaser, but now and then someone manages to make it work well. I’m given to believe by Cinema Parrot Disco that such is the case with Platform, so I’ll likely get to that one solely on her recommendation. As for Savageland, it pulls of some commentary on race very effectively. The rednecks of nearby Hinzman are convincing enough to make one wonder “Huh. Are these guys actors?”
But see, here’s the thing. There are no zombies, at least none we see in terms of any video footage showing them shambling about and gnawing on anyone, so at first, Salazar looks pretty guilty. But then we do get some glimpses of the attack. These come by way of an accidentally discovered roll of 35mm film. Turns out it contains 36 black-and-white photos taken by Salazar.
The photos are released but immediately dismissed as fakes and buried by the court, and Salazar is found guilty and executed in short order for the murders of SDC’s 57 residents. As I’ve been avoiding for the last coupla movies, I won’t go into what happens next although, admittedly, it probably ain’t hard to sort out if you give it a good think.
It’s worth pointing out, however, that what makes Savageland work so well is its tone. It totally comes off as a documentary. Everything’s presented in a straightforward, matter-of-fact manner in much the same way Zombie Survival Guide, reads like a manual. But where the book creates humor, Savageland creates tension. The film’s major selling point and most chilling feature has to be the grainy, blurry photos that suggest more than show the nature of the events.
The overall effect is more than convincing enough to make you wonder. I mean, if there really was such an attack, and nobody wanted the truth exposed, what better way than to pass it off as fiction? Not the first time such a claim has been made. Lots of writers have stories situated in the Lovecraft mythos. If you read enough of them, you’re bound to come across some that suggest what Lovecraft wrote was all true and merely masked as fiction.
The overall effect is more than convincing enough to make you wonder (well, if you’re a raging paranoiac like a number of us here in Castle Blogferatu). So yeah, Savageland…it left a mark.
BODIES- 57 offscreen, 2 onscreen
Streaming- Roku Channel, Tubi, Vudu
Rent- Prime, Vudu