(A.k.a. THE BURNINGMOORE INCIDENT)
Okay, we're back in "found footage"/mockumentary territory (greedily, this film strives to cover both grounds). As is mandatory within either sub-genre, the whole thing opens with an onscreen text disclaimer: "Due to the controversial nature of this film one family made an unsuccessful attempt to get a court injunction against it ...".
From there, THE BURNINGMOORE uses a great deal of onscreen text and non-linear storytelling devices to spin the yarn of a demented killer and the reality TV show crew who unhappily stumbles across him.
We first capture a glimpse of the brute lurking in shadows as a horny couple enter a derelict house on March 6th 2010, with their trusty camcorder in hand. As the blonde woman (Lauren Schiefer) begins to strip for her most excited man, a hulking figure advances from behind and slashes her throat.
Then we're taken into "the study of a psychotic mind", as an earnest male narrator tells us of the Parrish family - a husband, wife and three children - who lived in Selden, New York, until December 2005 when the father of the family went berserk. Detective Bruce (Joe Pallister) recounts how he responded to an emergency call only to encounter a bloodbath at the family home. The mother and her kids had been murdered by father James (Geoff Tate) - who had fled the scene.
An interview with a local tattoo artist (Cort Bengston), accompanied by old CCTV footage, reveals that the shaven-headed James had visited his parlour shortly after the killing spree, having the word "MOROS" tattooed into the back of his skull. Handily, the oncoming onscreen text explains that this means "God; spirit; doom personified".
Ah, that tallies with what comes next. A big reveal that a subsequent police inspection of James's home computer found thousands of downloaded files suggesting he was obsessed with "ancient mythology and ritualistic sacrifice".
All of which is good and well, until the documentary we're watching dries up and tells us James went missing for years. Thankfully, he did reappear again in March 2010 ... but only to make mincemeat of a bunch of people in the wrong place at the wrong time.
To be more precise, a bunch of TV people who've chosen the wrong derelict building in the Bayside, Queens region of New York to film the pilot episode of their new home improvement programme "Getting Hammered" from.
"The following footage is a compilation of over one hundred hours of raw tape captured by multiple cameras" forewarns the narrator, as the film shifts gear from Crime Channel-esque documentary and segues into more conventional found footage territory. This allows us to bear witness to the last hours of the aforementioned film crew as they unwittingly disturb James's hiding place - 132 Burningmoore Lane - and consequently end up staring straight into the "eyes of evil".
Well, if I was compiling hours of raw material in order to expose the grisly details of several sadistic murders, the last thing I'd be likely to keep in the final edit is footage of people talking in their car about the benefits of having a crap. Or bickering with gophers to illustrate the routine of setting up scenes for an on-location shoot. We didn't really need to see any of this ... did we?
I suppose you could argue that these sequences introduce us to the protagonists/victims. All of whom are so one-dimensional and fundamentally unlikeable that introducing them seems a tad counter-productive. I'd have felt more empathy for them as they died, had I not had to suffer their frat boy-style antics (nothing endearing about that when it's being carried out by middle-aged men) beforehand.
It takes a while but, yes, the murders do start coming. And they come quite prolifically once they begin. But there's nothing of much note in them either, and I'm disappointed to report that Tate is underused in his role - or at the very least kept in the shadows for the most part, acting effectively as a modern-day bogeyman. Which would ordinarily be great ... but this is Geoff Tate!
I mean, be honest. You read the nondescript movie title and check out the mediocre DVD cover and you think "meh". Correct? Then you notice that the cover says "Starring Geoff Tate" and you think to yourself "THE Geoff Tate? Him out of Queensryche? The one with the big lips, peachy head and Bruce Dickinson-ish voice?". Yes, it's him. And, of course, suddenly you want to check out a film that has the bollocks to cast the slightly ridiculous Tate as a vicious killer.
Well, he doesn't shame himself. But, as I say, that's more down to director Jonathan Williams' choice of hiding him in the background for the most part (Tate's most prominent role in the movie is singing over the closing titles). So he's hardly given the opportunity to vindicate himself as an actor either.
On the plus side, the house used as a the primary location is nicely atmospheric in its state of disarray, and Williams doesn't muster quite a few decent compositions from it (there's one scene in particular which stood out for me, offering a darkened room lit only by an open door with a straight line of line peeking through it. It momentarily reminded me of Argento's INFERNO).
By and large though, this is predictable and insipid fare, blighted by unoriginal direction and charmless, unconvincing performances. The scares don't register and there ends up being very little point, no credible conclusion or purpose, to the whole plot. It's a poor film (which may explain why, despite the involvement of a "rock star", it's sat on the shelf for several years).
THE BURNINGMOORE DEATHS is presented uncut on this region-free DVD from Cleopatra, which is being distributed in the US by MVD Visual. The 16x9 picture is generally a tad soft and dark, although colours are strong and there are no compression issues to worry about. The docu-drama style of the storytelling dictates that various sources of filming have been employed so, as ever with this type of film, it's really difficult to assess the video quality. I mean, half of it is MEANT to look shitty ... right?
English 2.0 audio is efficient throughout.
The disc opens to an animated main menu page. A static scene selection option affords access to the movie by way of 8 chapters.
Extras are fairly minimal. We get a 63-second gallery of on-set photographs in a mix of colour and sepia.
Other than that, the only bonus material on offer is trailers for THE BLACK ROOM and BLOOD TRAP, along with the original 102-second preview for THE BURNINGMOORE DEATHS.
Geoff Tate fans will be understandably intrigued by the promise of him appearing as a psychotic killer in a horror movie. All I can say to that is, don't be. You barely get to see his visage and he doesn't get the opportunity at any point to stamp his personality onto proceedings. I'm not even a fan of the fella, but I feel bad for him for having featured in this turd and not even being given the chance to make it watchable for novelty value alone.
Review by Stuart Willis
|Released by MVD Visual|