We’ve reached the point where all one need say is that a film is of the found footage variety to induce eye rolls and dismissal. Though such a declaration is typically followed by a hurried, “Wait, wait! This one is different,” they rarely are. Taking such a stance with Paul McGhie’s project, however, would be a gross miscalculation because Webcast truly was different.
A pair of present day college students embark on a documentary film for a class project that revolves around family dynamics following the sudden disappearance of Chloe Webber’s (Samantha Redford) aunt in 1984. Though memories fade with time, that none of the family members could recall what aunt Amelia looked like was not what baffled and intrigued Chloe, it was that none of them seemed to really know who she was. While filming outside Chloe’s mother’s house, Webber and her boyfriend Ed Dickens (Joseph Tremain), capture the image of a young woman sprinting from a neighbor’s front door only to be tackled by a family member. Confused by the unknown, Chloe and Ed begin to ponder whether the girl was struggling with recovery from drug addiction as they’d been told, or actually being held against her will.
The more the pair look into strange sounds and visitors next door, the stranger and deeper down the rabbit hole they find themselves, only to press on in hopes of finding the truth which never surfaced with Amelia’s disappearance. In the spirit of leaving the film unspoiled, I won’t reveal any more, but from that point forward, Webcast is creepy, frenetically paced and truly jarring.
The Blair Witch Project (1999) was clearly an influence on McGhie, and while Webcast felt like a hike to Coffin Rock set in suburbia, its ultimate credit was that it held one firmly glued to the screen, repeatedly asking “What the hell is going on here?” Not because the script was misguided or confusing, but because much like the best of television, Webcast offered just enough peeks behind the curtain to leave one with a primal urge to know just what was lurking in the dark.
McGhie’s writing and direction were perfectly paced, Redford and Tremain’s thoughtful and reserved performances enhanced the feeling of uncertain dread and the twists and turns delivered on intended effect.
It is no easy task to take a subgenre that has run the gamut over the past twenty-plus years and give it an original spin, but Webcast does just that. It is legitimately frightening and what’s more, believable. Nothing was forced and no leap of faith was required to follow the story from beginning to end. Every action and conversation of the characters were the same any one of us may have made had we found ourselves under similar circumstances.
And that’s why Webcast works.
The trailer will leave you itching to see it, but once you’ve take it all in, you will understand all too well that Webcast delves much deeper into the sinister than you could have possibly imagined. And as with all good pictures, it will stay with you.
Above all, Webcast left notes of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” lingering on this writer’s tongue. Not because any character ventured upon revenge or found themselves walled up, but rather out of the concept of regret. Much like The Blair Witch Project, the idea of perseverance in the face of uncertain adversity posed an important question — At what point does turning back go from a reluctance to be scared off the scent to the smart play?
Webcast is the bystander effect put to film. It will leave you questioning whether doing the right thing truly is the best course of action.
At present, Webcast is not slated for theatrical release, but you can find more information on how to see it and demand it play at a theatre near you at isawthewebcast.com.