THE BURNINGMOORE INCIDENT
Director: Jonathan Williams
Year of release: 2010
Country of origin: USA
Running time: 82-86 minutes
DVD/Blu ray: DVD only as far as I know
Also known as: : Reality Kills: The Burningmoore Incident
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: Presented throughout in a documentary and recorded footage format we are told early on in the film about an individual by the name of James Parrish, a seemingly happy family man with three children. Far from normal however James snapped one night and seemed to descend into madness. First he gets a strange word tattooed onto the back of his head translating to something along the lines of "doom personified" and then he goes on to butcher his entire family in cold blood before disappearing into the night without trace. Five years later a home improvement reality show is being filmed in a large thought to be empty house on the grounds of what was once an old army base. The plan is to convert the house which has been rigged with cameras in each room into a quaint bed and breakfast. In addition to the fixed cameras cameramen will also film the workers as they redesign and transform the house with the footage to be edited together for the television show. Little do they know however that James Parrish who was never caught for the murders years earlier has been living in the house whilst it was empty. He soon sets about systematically slaughtering the workforce with the killing spree caught on the cameras.
Good points: As the whole thing is presented in a very different way to what we are used to in the slasher genre it comes across as very unique and is quite unlike any slasher I've seen before. Though this approach does have its downfalls and doesn't always work it sets the film so much apart that it really separates itself from everything else (well of the slashers I've seen anyway). As mentioned It is a combination of sorts of found footage type material mixed in with documentary style filming with the slasher story of James Parish going about his grisly work thrown into the mix as well. It makes for a very different animal and it is refreshing to see something being bold enough to try and branch out into what is perhaps relatively uncharted territory for the genre.
The whole thing has been very well edited together as well with it all looking professional for what I'm assuming is probably a rather low budget affair. The documentary style stuff at the start that brings us up to speed on James Parish in particular is very well done coming across as authentic. The bulk of the film, the footage supposedly filmed for the reality show is entertaining (most of the time) and stylish in its own right.
It has sort of a creepy disturbing aspect to it as well which is probably largely down to the unique way in which it is presented. It comes across as more real and gritty than most. I'm not the type in my adulthood to really find any film scary but this one is a bit more scary in a sense than a lot of other slashers. James Parish comes across as something of a demented demon of a kind and his hulking presence coupled with the more intimate recorded footage presentation can make for an unsettling experience. Though they are not really anything alike I got a similar sort of unsettling vibe from this as I did with fellow low budget Indy flick Frayed.
There are a couple of little nods to Halloween and Friday the 13th in the shot of Parish from afar staring up towards the house/camera and the Crazy Ralph type homeless man who tries to warn the boss (Cole I think?) and the team of the danger in the house.
Bad Points: Though he does cut a menacing figure in terms of presence the James Parrish character doesn't look very good when it comes to his outfit as he just wears normal clothes and a hoody. He actually reminded me a lot of the killer from Comedown. As I've probably said time and time again though for me slashers don't have the same appeal without a proper mask or costume.
With taking such a radically different approach in how it is presented it means we don't get the typical small group of characters that we can get to know and consequently no final girl (or boy). It is more just a larger group of more minor characters all contributing equally so we don't get to know many of them in particular that well to start rooting for them once the violence begins. Plus each one is picked off separately pretty much which is often the case in the genre I know but even more so here. As such there is hardly any interaction between the characters during the killings or discussion about what is going on as for the most part they don't realise there is any danger until they are individually confronted. There are a few characters that we see a bit more of than the rest like the boss and house owner Cole, the host with the longish hair and the plumber and clown of the group Fitz but not really enough even with these to get properly behind them. The way the story plays out anyway we aren't encouraged to root for any one of them in particular.
There were some things that I felt were a bit unrealistic like the guy that kept trying to put his own music on and then wouldn't turn it off when told to even when logic and good sense would also suggest he should. Then he does the same thing again later when his boss has specifically told him to do his work quietly. I also thought it was unrealistic that the Jimbo painter character would be left to carry on painting when most everyone else left due to the building inspector. I think he was either supposed to be too stoned to hear the order to leave or had headphones on but surely one of his colleagues would have realised he wasn't outside and gone to bring him out? Finally the whole thing (as in the film from start to finish not just the reality show footage) looked as if it were being presented as a documentary that would air on TV but that would never happen as it would be to upsetting for the families of those killed. It would be too upsetting and graphic to make it onto TV full stop really even if it were aimed at catching the killer so I'm not sure where the documentary was supposed to have been available. Maybe on the internet but they never said.
Verdict: This is a very unique and interesting entry into the slasher genre that deserves to be more well known than it currently is. Just being so different makes it worth tracking down and I'd say it would make a most worthwhile addition to a collection. The different approach doesn't entirely pay off as it doesn't provide us with a small group to rally behind or a final girl to confront the killer at the end. The killer visually is also a bit of a disappointment but despite the flaws it has a certain stylish charisma about it. Worth a watch for sure I'd say. Give it a whirl and see what you think.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
1) Lauren: Throat cut.
2) Mike: Stabbed while lying down.
3) Jen: Strangled with cord.
4) Fitz (Plumber): Bashed in the head with a lug wrench type implement.
5) Pete (Electrician): Electrocuted by being shoved into what I assume was some sort of fuse box or generator.
6) Vinny (Building inspector): Hacked up with an axe (off camera as we only hear it happening).
7) Interior designer: Stabbed repeatedly in the back as she tried to get away.
8) Photographer: Strangled in upstairs hallway.
9) James/Jimbo (Painter): Throat cut.
10) Stu (Music guy): Shot with what I think may have been a nail gun and then finished off with another tool, possibly a sander or hand powered saw.
11) Camera man: Killed in the attic as the bodies were discovered, couldn't really tell how.
12) Cole (Boss and house owner): Beaten up and then thrown out of an upstairs window.
13) Paramedic #1: Found dead inside ambulance.
14) Paramedic #2: Found dead lying face down in the road next to the ambulance.