Friday, November 12, 2010

Snuff: A Documentary About Killing on Camera (2008)

Director: Paul von Stoetzel

Starring: Mark L. Rosen, Larry C. Brubaker, Raymond P. Whalen, people with initials for their middle name

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Ever seen a Snuff Film?

Plot: Feature film examining the existence of films in which people are murdered on camera and the culture surrounding them. Through interviews with former FBI Profilers, Cultural Academics, and Film Historians the documentary delves into the disturbing history and myth of Snuff Films. The FBI claims there is no evidence to prove the existence of Snuff and, therefore, Snuff Films are a myth. This documentary analyzes the relationships between war, cult films, serial killers and pornography to prove whether or not this pervasive myth is, in fact, reality.

My rating: 5/10

Will I watch it again? No

Their definition of a snuff film is one where someone is killed on film for the sole purpose of selling it for profit. Fair enough. That definition may be too narrow for most but whatever. If that's where they're going to start, they'd better have a strong finish, right? The talking heads are all over the place whether they exist or not ending with one of the producers, Rosen, telling the story of how he was approached by someone from the Philippines in the 70s to market his actual snuff film. Rosen sounds convincing but I'm not sold. It's too sensational and manipulative for me to believe. It's almost too well told. Reading the comments on imdb afterward, many point out the inaccuracies and outright lies found in the film. That's a cause for suspicion as well.

I couldn't help but be skeptical when watching it. It's short enough (76 minutes) to kill some time but there's too much footage from movies like SNUFF (1976), HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER (1986), CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST (1980) that pads the film. There's also a great deal of time spent on filmed beheadings by al-qaeda that will turn most people off, including me. There's no need to actually show the beheadings but they do, only to be sensational. That's where my big issue lies is that this 'documentary' crosses the line from wanting to inform to almost wanting to become the subject itself. I'm all about sensationalism - but not here, not this time. It's available on Netlix instant viewing if you still care.

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