To call Half-Caste (2004) a good film would be an overstatement, but it is good for what it is, a cheapy direct-to-video horror flick.
It absurdly advertised itself as "a true story," having been inspired by without imitating The Blair Witch Project (1999), about a documentary crew tracking down the origins of the legend of a jungle were-leopard.
It has some extremely effective creature imagery toward the end, created by an acrobatic, dancerly performer (Phillip Graham) in a marvelous leopard costume. It's great to see something of this sort done this effectively without requiring CGI FX, but just a straight-out performance.
The mix of humor & horror blended effectively. Putting the bulk of the humor before they knew stuff was going sour made the jesting credible. A sequence with an African village's sangoma witch-woman was riveting, a performance so convincing I even now am half convinced she was a real witch-woman in a real village.
But long talky sequences lacked a level or writing or acting to be effective, & the climactic "relationships" arguing while being descended upon by the creature didn't add a great deal to the climax even though the characters' irrationality was convincingly sewn into the plot.
Overall it was an attention-holding film with a reasonable pay-off at the end. As no-budget horror goes, this is a winner. And even better is the same director's Head Trauma (2005).
The now-familiar style of Blair Witch Project was afterward much-imitated, because cheap & easy once someone else showed you how to do it. Well, who showed the makers of Blair Witch how to do it were the makers The Last Broadcast (1998) who released their version a year earlier.
It involves the slain crew of an amateurish webcast program called Fact or Fiction, simulcast for public access television. They'd gone into the Jersey woods to investigate the legend of the Jersey Devil, & that was it for all but one of 'em.
We enter into the faux documentary presuming to use lots of video tape taken by the doomed crew, together with interviews with people who had known Jim Suard (played by Jim Seward; most of the "actors" used variatiosn of their own first names in their roles). Jim's a possible psychopath & definite nurd who liked the internet & magic tricks.
Jim used his knowledge of magic tricks to pose as a psychic, adding spice to the Jersey Devil quest as he heads off with three other guys into the pine barrens.
Later Jim would be tried & found guilty on the basis of tape available to the police. A final tape, however, needed a great deal of restoration, & it just might reveal that Jim was not after all a killer.
He was the only one who made it out of the woods alive. Steven (director Stefan Avalos) just vanishes never to be seen again, but the other two (Locus Wheeler & Rein Clackin) got ripped o bits.
The resolution of the mystery is very badly done & pretty much eradicated the effectiveness this fragmentary film drummed up along the way. It is ultimately a badly photographed, piss-poor psycho killer tale dragged out into unadulterated tediousness.
But for a film reputed to have cost $900 to make, the first digital feature film edited entirely with PC desktop software, it's impressive that it's as good as it is. Good enough to inspire Blair Witch which in turn inspired a veritable subgenre of films patched together with every possible excuse for looking like the homevideo footage they really are.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl