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Review: ‘Faking a Murderer’ is a Horror-Infused “Unreal” True Crime Story

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Filmmakers (and brothers-in-law) Stu Stone and Adam Rodness have done the documentary format (Netflix’s Jack of All Trades) and are no strangers to horror (Scarecrows, The Haunted House on Kirby Road). Their newest film — Faking a Murderer — is a clever, crazed combination of the two genres, creating a unique, unreal true crime story.

Directed by Stone and co-written by Rodness and Stone, Faking a Murderer follows the two filmmakers on their noble yet perhaps misguided quest to track down a seedy-looking stranger they’ve discovered online who — in a disturbing video — seemingly confesses to a murder. Or at least that’s what they think. Seeing the popularity of true crime shows, they decide to try and turn this discovery into their own killer hit. With the support of a distributor (both moral and financial), Stone and Rodness set off on their journey to try and track down this elusive creep. When they bring the video to law enforcement, they’re told — repeatedly — that it’s really not much to go on, and they’re putting a lot of time and energy into what essentially is a fool’s errand. Determined to make this work, they flex, stretch, and break their budget in pursuit of a hit new crime story. Are they in over their heads? Yes. Is it fun to watch? Absolutely.

There’s a sincerity in Rodness and Stone’s determination (and their performances) that makes for a really endearing and entertaining film. But with that determination comes misguided confidence and unchecked hubris. Stone and Rodness really — really — want this guy to be the murderer they’ve been searching for. There’s a lot lying on the line if they’re wrong, so the question is, how far will they go to make a true crime story… well… true? 

Fans of Digging Up the Marrow will find a kind of familiarity in Faking a Murderer, in which filmmakers — playing themselves — use their experience and resources to investigate a mystery. The marketing for the film avoids the term “mockumentary”, instead promoting it as an “unreal true crime story”. As “unreal” as it is, it feels very true; you’re pulled in by its simple sincerity. Think of it as less Behind the Mask: the Rise of Leslie Vernon and more Catfish-meets-Deliverance, with an energy that slides from silly to somber. 

Throughout the film, Rodness and Stone’s various pitches, interviews, and meetings blur the line between truth and fiction; their conversations are earnest, their energy keen, and their hopes high. It makes it easy to lose your sense of what scenes are carefully crafted versus those that unfold organically. This balance of sincerity and scripted keeps Faking a Murderer grounded and honest, while still stirring in some drama to keep things interesting. 

I won’t speak too much on the film’s final scenes (it’s far more fun to see for yourself), but I will say that it’s a great finish that throws a solid punch, while at the same time, lightheartedly cushioning the blow. There’s an epilogue that sums it all up perfectly and shows that Rodness and Stone don’t take themselves too seriously. 

With Faking a Murderer, Rodness and Stone have created a film that is both grounded and completely off the rails, tossing caution to the wind to chase down a wild story. They’re stubborn and recklessly optimistic, which — in this case — is a winning combination. Faking a Murderer may lean less on the “true” part of true crime, but it sure knows how to be “unreal”.

 

You can find Faking a Murderer on Hollywood Suite, or watch the trailer below

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Brad Dourif Says He’s Retiring Except For One Important Role

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Brad Dourif has been doing movies for nearly 50 years. Now it seems he is walking away from the industry at 74 to enjoy his golden years. Except, there is a caveat.

Recently, digital entertainment publication JoBlo’s Tyler Nichols talked to some of the Chucky television series cast members. During the interview, Dourif made an announcement.

“Dourif said that he’s retired from acting,” says Nichols. “The only reason he came back for the show was because of his daughter Fiona and he considers Chucky creator Don Mancini to be family. But for non-Chucky stuff, he considers himself retired.”

Dourif has voiced the possessed doll since 1988 (minus the 2019 reboot). The original movie “Child’s Play” has become such a cult classic it’s at the top of some people’s best chillers of all time. Chucky himself is ingrained in pop culture history much like Frankenstein or Jason Voorhees.

While Dourif may be known for his famous voiceover, he is also an Oscar-nominated actor for his part in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Another famous horror role is The Gemini Killer in William Peter Blatty’s Exorcist III. And who can forget Betazoid Lon Suder in Star Trek: Voyager?

The good news is that Don Mancini is already pitching a concept for season four of Chucky which might also include a feature-length movie with a series tie-in. So, Although Dourif says he is retiring from the industry, ironically he is Chucky’s friend till the end.

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Editorial

7 Great ‘Scream’ Fan Films & Shorts Worth a Watch

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The Scream franchise is such an iconic series, that many budding filmmakers take inspiration from it and make their own sequels or, at least, build upon the original universe created by screenwriter Kevin Williamson. YouTube is the perfect medium to showcase these talents (and budgets) with fan-made homages with their own personal twists.

The great thing about Ghostface is that he can appear anywhere, in any town, he just needs the signature mask, knife, and unhinged motive. Thanks to Fair Use laws it’s possible to expand upon Wes Craven’s creation by simply getting a group of young adults together and killing them off one by one. Oh, and don’t forget the twist. You’ll notice that Roger Jackson’s famous Ghostface voice is uncanny valley, but you get the gist.

We have gathered five fan films/shorts related to Scream that we thought were pretty good. Although they can’t possibly match the beats of a $33 million blockbuster, they get by on what they have. But who needs money? If you’re talented and motivated anything is possible as proven by these filmmakers who are well on their way to the big leagues.

Take a look at the below films and let us know what you think. And while you’re at it, leave these young filmmakers a thumbs up, or leave them a comment to encourage them to create more films. Besides, where else are you going to see Ghostface vs. a Katana all set to a hip-hop soundtrack?

Scream Live (2023)

Scream Live

Ghostface (2021)

Ghostface

Ghost Face (2023)

Ghost Face

Don’t Scream (2022)

Don’t Scream

Scream: A Fan Film (2023)

Scream: A Fan Film

The Scream (2023)

The Scream

A Scream Fan Film (2023)

A Scream Fan Film
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Another Creepy Spider Movie Hits Shudder This Month

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Good spider films are a theme this year. First, we had Sting and then there was Infested. The former is still in theaters and the latter is coming to Shudder starting April 26.

Infested has been getting some good reviews. People are saying that it’s not only a great creature feature but also a social commentary on racism in France.

According to IMDb: Writer/director Sébastien Vanicek was looking for ideas around the discrimination faced by black and Arab-looking people in France, and that led him to spiders, which are rarely welcome in homes; whenever they’re spotted, they’re swatted. As everyone in the story (people and spiders) is treated like vermin by society, the title came to him naturally.

Shudder has become the gold standard for streaming horror content. Since 2016, the service has been offering fans an expansive library of genre movies. in 2017, they began to stream exclusive content.

Since then Shudder has become a powerhouse in the film festival circuit, buying distribution rights to movies, or just producing some of their own. Just like Netflix, they give a film a short theatrical run before adding it to their library exclusively for subscribers.

Late Night With the Devil is a great example. It was released theatrically on March 22 and will begin streaming on the platform starting April 19.

While not getting the same buzz as Late Night, Infested is a festival favorite and many have said if you suffer from arachnophobia, you might want to take heed before watching it.

Infested

According to the synopsis, our main character, Kalib is turning 30 and dealing with some family issues. “He’s fighting with his sister over an inheritance and has cut ties with his best friend. Fascinated by exotic animals, he finds a venomous spider in a shop and brings it back to his apartment. It only takes a moment for the spider to escape and reproduce, turning the whole building into a dreadful web trap. The only option for Kaleb and his friends is to find a way out and survive.”

The film will be available to watch on Shudder starting April 26.

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