ByBenjamin Marlatt, writer at

The Robertson County Sheriff’s Department has officially released to the public cell phone and video camera footage found on the dead bodies of the Sawyer family – Michael (Ted Jonas), Janette (Julia Cearley) and their two children Brandon (Andrew Hellenthal) and Dana (Catherine Alter).

The film you are about to see is an account of the tragedy which befell this group of four, in particular Brandon and his bitchy sister Dana. It is all the more tragic in that they were young stars destined for greatness. But, had they achieved very, very long careers, they could not have expected nor would they have wished to see as much of the mad and macabre film as they were to participate in long, long ago. For them an idyllic summer week – wait, it’s supposed to be January.

Clearly these guys don’t know much about winters in Tennessee.

Anyway, the events of that week were to lead to the discovery of one of the most bizarre crimes in the annals of American history… The Bell Witch Haunting… Massacre.

It’s natural that movies that popularize the found footage genre like The Blair Witch Project or revitalize it like Paranormal Activity are gonna lead to copycats. Any filmmaker can just slap a “BASED ON TRUE EVENTS” tag on their film, so it’s my objective duty as the well-respected, world-renowned journalist that I so clearly am to pick through this footage with a fine-tooth comb and come to a decisive and fully assured conclusion as to whether this is true, unadulterated evidence of a heinous crime brought on by supernatural forces or flat-out bull shit.

So the film opens with footage from the car cam and chest cam belonging to an Officer Bungalon. At approximately 20:14 pm, Bungalon has discovered the murdered bodies of a young man and woman.

Okay, now it appears we’ve cut back 6 hours earlier to what looks like – uh – let’s see there’s topless girls, and I guess there’s some underage drinking and a little bit of pot smoking going on. Must be a Girls Gone Wild rave – wait… they’re singing “Happy Birth – oh, it’s a family birthday party. My mistake. I got confused ’cause I figured debaucherous stuff like that only happened at Marlatt family gatherings.

Aaaand after that, looks like I won’t be welcome back at the next Christmas party.

The party seems to be going smoothly with everyone having a good – wait. There’s a girl out on the patio just standing there, motionlessly. Her eyes have this blank stare, so dark and empty, like her entire being’s been swallowed up by the very callous, inhuman form that possesses her weary soul. Oh. My. God… Clearly she’s drunk. I don’t know why everyone at the party’s getting all creeped out by it. Trust me, I should know. I’m surrounded by ‘em.

And there just went New Years and Thanksgiving.

It’s now being reported that the bodies of that lush and her ride home were found on the side of the road by Officer Bungalow or whatever his name is.

Our next piece of evidence appears to be Dana’s fashion podcast, where she flaunts her oh so fashionable taste in $12.75 dresses she bought at the O’Hare Airport while her brother creepily catches her with his camera from inside her closet. How is this related to the case? It isn’t, but I can see her nipples.

Noooo, it’s not that I’m a creep like her pervy brother, it’s that they’re that noticeable.

So, moving on, what I’m seeing now is another crucial key to this case. Dana’s being comforted by her mom and dad ’cause apparently she’s suffering from night terrors. Thankfully, Brandon is a dickhole enough of a brother to videotape his sister’s traumatic experience for us.

And now, here is another highly relevant section of footage. I believe it’s a MONTAGE SET TO TCHAIKOVSKY’S “RUSSIAN DANCE”, and – wait a minute… How did I not notice that? How is that possible in a found footage movie?

That’s a sweet camera Brandon’s got to be able to do all that on the spot. Boy, I wish mine could do that.

I mean, the only other possibility I can think of is the Robertson County Sheriff’s Department edited it as a tasteless gesture toward the Sawyer family’s memory.

Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. I’m thinking those night terrors are more than just everyday nightmares for Dana. There’s some weird paranormal stuff going on in her room. It’s frightened some of her friends off, and once again, Officer Bungle in the Jungle has been called back to investigate a missing person’s report on one of Dana’s friends at 22:34 PM ACCORDING TO HIS CAR CAM. Upon investigating, it’s around 20:36 PM ACCORDING TO HIS CHEST CAM when the officer stumbles upon Dana’s missing friend who has hung her – what the hell? Okay… I see what’s up… These guys thought they could fool me.

End of Daylight Savings Time, duh.

Now, the plot is thickening with this case and things are starting to escalate for the Sawyers by the 21TH and 22TH of Jan…

Oh my God, it just now dawned on me. I can’t believe it; it’s been right there in front of me the whole time practically in big, all caps, bold, underlined and italicized letters.

The film has no opening or closing credits. This footage is starting to gain more and more credibility the more of it I see.

Anyway, during the 21th and 22th of January, Dana has another horrible night terror that, once again, Brandon is thankfully tactless enough to capture on camera for us. But what’s even more troubling is Janette’s discovery while unpacking family pictures that EVERY SINGLE PICTURE HAS A PRECISE CRACK WHERE DANA IS. Now, of course, I could be as clueless as Janette in this instance and just shrug it off as no big deal, but momma didn’t raise an idiot here. I’m fully aware of the horrifying revelation that’s taking place, and look, I’m not one for telling people how to go about their business, but if I had shoddy workmanship done by whatever piss poor moving company was moving my belongings, I’d ask for my money back.

But that’s just me.

Now, shit’s starting to get real ’cause it looks like Dana might be possessed. It went over my head too that something might be wrong just like it did with her family. We already solved the picture debacle and I figured those weird airy echo whisperings were from Enya singing in the background. However, my suspicions began to arise just a little bit around the time Officer Electric Boogaloo – who’s either the only cop in the county or just gets constantly dicked around by his fellow cops – found her in a ditch eating a raccoon.

Oh… she’s not possessed; she just has Lyme Disease.

Wait, never mind. Now she’s furiously hovering in the air above her family and the local priest called in to perform an exorcism.

Sooo… I guess she’s contracted rabies too.

Let that be a lesson, kids. Don’t eat an animal’s feces.

Unfortunately, the exorcism was a major fail. It wasn’t so much the priest’s lack of enthusiasm as it was his neck getting snapped by Dana.

I guess that means the power of Christ doesn’t compel you.

Wah… Wah… WAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

Needed a little more Al Jolson jazzy hands.

So what’s the verdict for these “true events” now that the evidence has been presented to us? We have the Sawyer family, whose utterly clueless nature goes beyond that of even the most bottom of the barrel slasher film characters, the sheriff’s department was not only kind enough to edit in a musical score but also package the footage inside a snazzy looking DVD case, and this was produced by same guy that thought tornadoes slinging sharks around Los Angeles was a great idea.

Sounds legit to me.

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