SAVAGELAND *** USA 2015 Dir: Phil Guidry, Simon Herbert, David Whelan. 80 mins
In a found footage market overcrowded with paranormal flicks and woodsy sub-Bigfoot creature features, this is an admirable attempt at a pseudo “true” crime documentary. An illegal Latino immigrant, found with 15 different types of blood on his person, is convicted of a mass murder that virtually wipes out a tiny town on the Arizona-Mexico border.
Various talking heads representing local media, the church and law enforcement elaborate upon how and why the guy was deemed guilty of the extraordinary crime. Extremely well edited, this offers a credible insight into how tragedies incorporating a racial angle and child victims can escalate into ill-informed witch-hunts; although made before the election of Herr Trump, it’s a timely look at the world’s hate-fuelled fear of immigrants. The acting is uneven, weakening the overall impact, but the movie makes clever – and chilling – use of still photography, rather than the usual amateur-styled film / video footage. This novel approach does make the fleeting reversion to standard video documentation for the final reveal feel oddly anti-climactic.
Review by Steven West