WNUF Halloween Special

Year: 2013

Synopsis: On Halloween 1987, local WNUF airs a special with a TV personality touring a purportedly haunted house.

Pros:
• An overall effective parody of the found footage genre, old VHS recordings, and 1980s local channels.
• Paul Fahrenkopf did an excellent job as the TV personality and reporter, providing the driest of straight-faced humor.
• Surprisingly well constructed with how the fake commercials showed a kind of 1980s hypocrisy, as well as adding a bit to the plot.
• Thanks to the fake commercials and visual style, was oddly reminiscent of the horrifyingly real Star Wars Holiday Special, as well as just about anything ever put on a VHS/Video Cassette from the late 1970s to the early 2000s.
• Some of the visuals were genuinely shocking, while many of the camera shots of dark corners in the background provided palpable dread.
• Never took itself that seriously, ever so subtly winking at the viewer at times.

Cons:
• Though they were fun in the long run — and technically accurate for the time, the sequence of commercials prior to the “special” felt a bit overlong.
• Felt like it could have gone further than it did with the bloody horror, as it tended to lean more toward comedy.
• Might be too easy to take this too seriously.

Discussion:
The found footage genre has always been on odd and inconsistent one. At its best, we are provided a disturbing first person experience into horror. At its worst, we’re scratching our heads, feeling that them still filming was an extension of the protagonists’ stupidity. This Halloween Special succeeds in its anti-commercial undertones. “WNUF” wanted ratings to better advertise themselves and their sponsors. The kids outside the house seem pretty oblivious: keep rolling, this is great! The tape recorder blew up, amazing! There’s unexplained noises and a suddenly locked door, even better! They kept rolling because it was their jobs. In fact, the reporter was so into being a good host for the special that he deluded himself into thinking he was never in mortal danger. This was perhaps one of the most plausible found footage films ever made, albeit ironically.


Rotten Tomatoes — N/A

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