Before Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story took Netflix by storm, there existed a low-budget production called The Poughkeepsie Tapes. This comparison is not hyperbole. Directed by John Erick Dowdle, the found footage, documentary style film is about a fictional serial killer and his collection of VHS tapes. The story itself is mysterious, nerve wrecking, and available to stream on Prime Video. Definitely one for the crime drama fans.
Viewers might recognize characteristics of the antagonist from iconic villains of the genre. Such as Hannibal, Se7en, and Dexter. The movie is a character study combined with a who-done-it mystery. Not in the traditional sense but a particular character is missing throughout the course of the story. Like most documentaries or specials, FBI agents and other members of law enforcement narrate the events that take place.
As expected, testimonies are given by the victims’ families and friends, which grounds the film even more. Unlike most slashers, this one is in his infancy stage. Viewers witness him grow over time, become smarter and more vicious. His intellect can best be described as genius level, as some feats are reminiscent of Light Yagami from the anime, Death Note. Some murders are committed in real-time from the camera POV.
Details of each kill is not always shown, but heavily implied which makes it more effective. The fact that the person behind the sadistic acts is never given a name or face, creates an atmosphere of obscurity. With a runtime of 1 hour and 21 minutes, The Poughkeepsie Tapes is a chilling tale of torment and cruelty. To date, I’ve seen nothing like it. This hidden gem earns a 7.5 out of 10.
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