Despite the success of the found footage film, it’s close cousin the mockumentary hasn’t seen much of a boost in it’s popularity. While the two genres may at times overlap, the mockumentary is a genre of it’s own. With roots going back to the mondo films of the 60’s, although not advertising themselves as fact although some such as BBC tv’s GHOSTWATCH has certainly convinced watchers that it was real. Now directors Phil Guidry, Simon Herbert and David Whelan have delivered a film that may bring them the attention they deserve with SAVAGELAND.
Framed as an investigation into the overnight killings of 57 people in the Arizona border town of Sangre de Cristo, (the films title refers to the dismissive name the local whites refer to it as). The entire town is brutally wiped out except for one man, Francisco Salazar, an illegal immigrant found covered in the blood of several people. Despite the sheer impossibility of one person committing them, he’s charged and convicted of the murders. However, during the appeal a roll of film is discovered, pictures Salazar, an avid photographer shot during that night. What they reveal is truly shocking, something truly evil, and possibly a warning of worse to come.
Set up like a documentary, with interviews, news footage, etc this obviously isn’t a film full of jump scares. What it does have is a compelling premise and set up as news footage and interviews with everyone from the local sheriff to a writer who covered the case and a local activist. Punctuated with snippets from a local Rush Limbaughesque radio personality we see why it was so easy for these people to believe one man could have committed all those murders. He’s Mexican, and Mexican just do that kind of thing as one local says. SAVAGELAND doesn’t shy away from the more controversial issues a case like this would stir up, and feels so much more real for it.
This all gets thrown on it’s ass when, during his appeal the film he shot as he ran for his life that night is found. 36 images. 35 of them terrifying, the 36th heart breaking. The pictures are the stuff of nightmares, incredibly well done and creepy. They show the evil that came out of the desert and wiped out the town as he fought to survive. At this point the film becomes chilling, the kind of cold, disturbing chill that makes you not want to walk around your own apartment in the dark.
SAVAGELAND isn’t a film for those who want a traditional genre offering full of scares. But for those who want a film that will have them looking over their shoulder hours later this is perfect. SAVAGELAND is currently available on most VOD platforms via Terror Films.