Saturday, April 18, 2015

Let's 'Lose' This Found Footage! Amirite?: "100 Ghost Street: The Return of Richard Speck" (2012)

It seems that for every one tolerable "found footage" film there are at least ten terrible efforts. This monstrosity falls squarely in the latter category.

A group of six or so douches (not literal douches, but no one to root for, either) set out at an abandoned dormitory in Chicago to make a documentary about mass murderer Richard Speck, who killed eight nurses in one night in 1966. This isn't just any documentary, they want to capture the ghost of Speck on video (he died in prison almost twenty years ago), and luckily have the necessary ghost hunting equipment like EVP devices, sensitive microphones, infrared video recording technology, and, most importantly, a remote-control toy truck named Clyde with a teeny-tiny camera on it.

I'm not going to bother you with characters' names and such (one poor guy is killed within thirty seconds of the film's beginning) because the film is shot so badly I couldn't tell half the cast apart. The two dude cameramen look exactly alike, as do two blonde female crew members. One scene has a camera guy and one of the blondes exploring on their own, and I had no clue who I was looking at. The special effects include lots of blood smudges, and people getting dragged away by unseen forces (could we call a moratorium on THAT?). There is no credited cast or crew, since this was "found at the scene," and somehow expertly cobbled together by the Chicago Police Department's in-house found footage editing task force.

Richard Speck was a disgusting piece of humanity. Google his name, and thousands of articles pop up detailing his crimes, and his shocking existence in jail. An infamous video surfaced years ago showing him performing oral sex on another inmate, taking drugs, and sporting female-like breasts thanks to smuggled hormones; all while being incarcerated. It seems the screenwriter couldn't even get the basic story of the crime right, and huge errors abound throughout the film. Getting actors to improvise can sometimes work, but here everyone screams at each other trying to be heard, resulting in something much less than Altmanesque. This technique is simply lazy writing. Giving people a general direction ("you're scared") with little characterization, then yelling "action" is obviously not working in this genre, and I once sat through a film called "Amber Alert" that illustrates this point even better. There is a distasteful scene involving spectral rape that would serve as a low point in any film, much less a cheap found footage horror flick that somehow found its way onto a streaming service. The only plus is the abandoned hospital (in Los Angeles) that serves as the film's location.

"100 Ghost Street: The Return of Richard Speck" is pure garbage. The explanation of the title is too stupid to be believed, and so is the rest of the film. (*) out of five stars.